Daniel Bernard Roumain’s “The Telling” Displays Hard Truths of Society with Performance Stories

Violinist and activist Daniel Bernard Roumain gives a voice to those without the means or audience to do so, accompanied by impactful music, poems and dance during this PVDFest Happening.

Witness performances that exhibit both anguish and hope for a better future for BIPOC communities. Photo by Robert Torres.

Reflect on the ongoing issues of society during the multimedia performance “The Telling” by Haitian-American violinist, composer and activist Daniel Bernard Roumain alongside other musicians, dancers and spoken word poets.

On September 29, join nonprofit FirstWorks at the WaterFire Arts Center at 8 p.m. and witness performances that exhibit both anguish and hope for a better future for BIPOC communities. A town hall dialogue will follow the event. 

In the words of Roumain, “The Telling” recites the stories that have yet to be told and have always lived within BIPOC communities. One example of these experiences is Philando Castile, who was pulled over by police officer Jeronimo Yanez for a traffic stop on July 6, 2016. The stop quickly escalated as Yanez pulled out his weapon after Castille informed him he had a firearm, and the officer fired seven shots into the car, five of which struck Castille.

After learning about the death of Philando Castile, Roumain channeled his energy towards creating music to verbalize his thoughts on the discrimination.

Roumain notes that the traumatic story of Castile incites anger and rage, especially as a father. “When my son was four years old, other than his bed, his favorite place on earth was the backseat of our car. When I was four years old, the backseat of my parents’ car was always an adventure; it was a place that got us somewhere,” says Roumain. “For Dae’Anna to witness her father murdered from that bakcseat, then moments later to witness her mother handcuffed and both of them put in the backseat of a police car, at a certain point you wonder about humanity.”

The composer and activist wishes they was a surefire way of ending all police brutality, but sending important messages with music titled “I Have Nothing to Do Except Love,” “They Still Want to Kill Us” or “Love is the Only Word Sweeter than Black” starts a conversation and demonstrates the hurt people in BIPOC communities face.

“Titles carry weight,” Roumain says. “I’ve known that for years but I’m understanding that more, as my twelve-year-old son and his friend start to understand my work.”

FirstWorks executive artistic director Kathleen Pletcher asserts that the performance’s motive is to move the hearts and minds of the audience members forward. “Incubating new work with collaborators from across the country will engage our community, students and audiences with the transformative power of the arts,” she says. “Daniel is a clarion voice for equity, and at acknowledging and healing racial injustice.”

During this PVDFest event, Roumain states the guests should prepare for the hard truth and some soul searching. “I’m part of the global majority but that global majority doesn’t always have a platform,” Roumain says. “We’re seen but not always heard. The frames we occupy are sometimes surrounded by frames of death, trauma and violence. This concert will also be about black joy, beauty and black excellence.”

Tickets are free with a pay-what-you-can option to offer equitable access to all. Call or visit the FirstWorks website for tickets. 401-421-4278, firstworks.org



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