Baltimore's Chesapeake Shakespeare Company has launched The Monument Project, an arts activism campaign to benefit the theatre's education programs. At the center of the project is a series of photographs of the company's Black actors standing on the city's empty pedestals, where Confederate statues once stood. The portraits were recently unveiled as large-scale banners hanging at the entrance to Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's performance space.
The City of Baltimore removed the statues in 2017, but the plinths remain standing, with no decision yet made regarding their use. CSC has paired the portraits of the Renaissance costume-clad actors with lines from Hamlet, The Winter's Tale, Romeo and Juliet, and the Bard's "Sonnet 55."
Poster-size copies of the photos be available for purchase, with proceeds benefiting CSC’s education programs, serving 16,000 students annually in Baltimore and surrounding counties (including parts of Washington, D.C.). For more information, visit ChesapeakeShakespeare.com.
Posing for the project are Tamieka Chavis, Renea Brown, Keith Romeno Snipes, Terrance Fleming, Isaiah Harvey, Gerrad Alex Taylor, and Shaquan Pearson. CSC member Séamus Miller conceived the initiative and photographed alongside Brandon W. Vernon; costumes are by Kristina Lambdin.
Chesapeake Shakespeare Company is Baltimore's third largest theatre company. In their "Statement on Equity, Access, and Inclusion," they have committed to color-conscious casting and increased hiring practices of BIPOC administrative staff, teaching artists, and trustees. The company has also created the Black Classical Acting Ensemble, aimed to mentor and train local Black actors at no cost to them.
Take look below at some of the campaign images, plus behind-the-scenes photos of the shoot.