PhD Candidate, Stefanie Benjamin, is currently in the process of drafting the final chapters of her dissertation study at the University of South Carolina in Educational Foundations & Inquiry. Informed by both performance studies and collective memory theory, Stefanie’s study centers around Let Them Be Heard, a theatrical production that breathes life into the narratives of former slaves, performed at three plantation sites in the U.S. South. Specifically, she sought to understand the lived experience of the performance through the eyes of three key stakeholder groups (plantation museum curators and docents, the director of the Let Them Be Heard production, and the show’s performers), and the impact of the performance on those individuals and on the plantation sites where the performances took place. Ultimately, she is attempting to discern the viability of positioning plantations sites on which such performances occur as educative spaces capable of fostering discussion around a deeper, more accurate representation of enslaved community members’ lived experiences in addition to contributing to the reinterpretation of the practice of slavery in the U.S. into a new, more complex way. Benjamin’s dissertation study stands as a means of fostering and facilitating critical dialogue in/about spaces where marginalized voices are silenced intentionally.
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