The Orange County Arts Commission together with the Orange County Community Remembrance Coalition, Free Spirit FREEDOM, and The ArtsCenter, present HAUNTED, a new commissioned theatrical work by playwright and actor, Dr. Sonny Kelly. The production will air live from The ArtsCenter in Carrboro at 2pm on Saturday, March 27, 2021, and be available for streaming following the live production. To learn where to view the livestream event and sign up for an event reminder, visit https://artscenterlive.org/performance/haunted-presented-by-sonny-kelly/.
In the play HAUNTED, actor and playwright Sonny Kelly takes on the voices of historians, ancestors, elders, youths, politicians, pundits, and poets, as he traces the roots and routes of modern day anti-Black violence in America. Kelly recounts the roots of hatred and fear embedded in the story of the 1898 lynching of Manly McCauley in Orange County. He also tracks the routes of racialized violence in America as manifested in the colonial justice system, the Wilmington Massacre of 1898, the 2015 shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and the 2020 lynching of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia. Kelly digs deep to examine the impact that racial violence has historically had on our minds, bodies, and souls in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
HAUNTED is part of a series of events presented by the Orange County Community Remembrance Coalition (OCCRC) whose work has been inspired by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) of Montgomery, Alabama. EJI has embarked on a multi-year project to recognize the victims and survivors of racial terror lynching in the United States, focusing on restorative truth-telling and memorialization. To date, EJI has documented at least 4,400 African American victims of racial terror lynching between 1877 to 1950, with at least 119 racial terror lynchings documented in North Carolina during that period. Manly McCauley is one of those victims in Orange County. With HAUNTED, the OCCRC recognizes Manly McCauley and other victims of racial terror lynching and works to disrupt and overcome the detrimental systems and mindsets that have plagued America for generations, and to help usher forth a future of humanity, equity and justice for all of us.
Sonny Kelly is a world-class performer, story teller, motivator, speaker, and comedian. He holds a PhD in Communication & Performance Studies from UNC Chapel Hill (2020). Sonny is also a graduate of St. Mary’s University (MA, Communication Studies, 2008) and Stanford University (BA, International Relations, 1998). As a lover of theater and performance, Sonny has acted professionally on stage and television for over 20 years.
Free Spirit FREEDOM is a cultural arts initiative that utilizes artistic expressions to promote a cross-cultural memory that deepens and enriches the various dimensions of Orange County, North Carolina. With input from the community, we are collecting and archiving photographs, historic images, narratives and poetry for an on-going public exhibition. We are bringing to light the beautiful spectrum of legacies, heritages and cultures that characterize Orange County, giving emphasis to the story of African Americans and traditionally marginalized peoples.
Created in 1985 as the official government agency on the arts by a Resolution of the Board of County Commissioners, the Orange County Arts Commission (OCAC) serves as a clearinghouse for arts information, facilitator of arts programs and advisor to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners regarding the arts. As the Designated County Partner of the North Carolina Arts Council in Orange County since 1985, the OCAC is responsible for sub-granting state and county funds to arts organizations, schools and artists throughout the county. Our mission is to promote and strengthen the artistic and cultural development of Orange County, North Carolina.