NON:op presents “L’s GA: Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address”
Illinois Tour Dates
March 4, 7pm • McLean County Museum of History
200 North Main Street, Bloomington IL 61701
March 5, 6:30pm • Urbana Independent Media Center
202 South Broadway Ave, Urbana IL 61801
March 12, 7pm • Elastic Arts
3429 West Diversey Ave, Chicago IL 60647
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On November 19, 1863, President Lincoln spoke at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery and described the United States as a nation “conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” As we continue to witness disproportionate brutality against Black Americans, NON:op Open Opera Works presents L’sGA : Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, a concert tour of three commissioned works by Black artists that re-interpret and re-present the Gettysburg Address and Sal Martirano’s 1967 anti-war classic, L’sGA.
Chicago Hip Hop artist and poet Kao Ra Zen, 3Arts awardee and multidisciplinary artist A.J. McClenon, and Urbana poet laureate Ja Nelle Davenport-Pleasure explore themes of liberty, oppression, patriotism, racism, and revolution. Chicago Emmy winner, actor, and playwright, Willie “Prince Roc” Round, will be featured in a new production of Martirano’s L’sGA.
Concerts take place in Bloomington at the McLean County Museum of History (March 4), Urbana at the Independent Media Center (March 5), and Chicago at Elastic Arts (March 12). The performances will be preceded by a reading of the Gettysburg Address and poet and L’sGA collaborator M.C. Holloway’s Dance Wreck. The Bloomington and Urbana programs will include a panel presentation with scholars, activists, and artists. The Urbana program will include a presentation by the Writers of Oya from their writing workshop conducted by Ja Nelle and Kao.
L’sGA was created by Salvatore Martirano (concept and score), Ronald nameth (films), and M.C. Holloway (poetry and performance) in 1967 at the height of America’s war in Vietnam and rising protests. In L’sGA, Lincoln’s words were buried—almost irretrievably—by an onslaught of images, sounds, masks, and distortions. They became at once the empty bombast uttered by a puppet leader—part fascist, part clown—and visceral, bodily screams of rage against the slaughter in Vietnam, the suppression of dissent, the abuse of women, the oppression of minorities, and the dispossessed; against war games, pornography, blind prejudice, and empty, meaningless clichés of beauty.
A literally “gas-masked politico” delivered Lincoln’s text, cavorting, and blustering, with a voice distorted by helium pumped into his lungs, administered by a cartoonish nurse. The text itself was dismembered, interrupted, repeated, transformed into cheers and slogans, and eventually reduced to vacant shouts of blah, blah, blah.
The whole of L’sGA protested against a government that drafted young men—especially African-American men—as cannon fodder for American imperial dreams; that incarcerated, deported, or killed Black Panthers and other activists for daring to assert that persons are created equal; that poured billions of dollars into war machinery and the firms that built it; that enabled cities and cultures, home and abroad, to be destroyed in the name of safety and security.
L’sGA : Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address considers whether Lincoln’s dream of equality has been realized and what the Gettysburg Address can possibly mean to each of us in today’s world.
Saturday, March 4, 2023
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Cost: Free (registration required)
McLean County Museum of History
200 North Main
Bloomington IL 61701