Hello Baltimore

In June, Baltimore's Single Carrot Theatre put their audiences on a bus and made the city sidewalks their stage with a boundary-breaking production entitled, Promenade: Baltimore. An exploration as well as a celebration of Baltimore, the "play" highlighted our city's complexity, struggles, treasures, and, ultimately, its undeniable beauty.

Video and photos by Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance Urban Arts Leadership Program fellow Leneé Freeman. Audio used with permission from Artistic Director Genevieve de Mahy Single at Carrot Theater

The bus traversed the city, passing through midtown neighborhoods, including Bolton Hill where I live, and many of the surrounding ones.  Audience members watched through the windows as actors on the street presented poetic expressions of everyday life in Baltimore, complemented by a lively mix of music, narration, and stories based on and told by neighborhood residents. 

These neighborhoods received national attention in April 2015, as this area was the heart of the uprising that took place in response to the death of Freddie Gray's while in police custody. Two years later, those events still feature prominently in many peoples' minds.

When the Theatre's production team asked for volunteers, I signed up to be interviewed as part of the effort to create a soundtrack of residents voices for the show. With the tape deck rolling, Artistic Director Genevieve de Mahy asked me questions, assisted by UALP Fellow Lenee Freeman.

I talked a lot about Sheng Zhen Gong, along with my love of and hopes for Baltimore. We all enjoyed the exchange. Afterward, Lenee used one of my quotes to create the video above. Genevieve had asked me for the message I would like to say to Baltimore, and this was my response.

The practice of Sheng Zhen Gong can help each of us cultivate the ability to cherish, honor and respect everyone. The movements and meditations open your heart to love. Then, we all win.