James Scruggs, an award-winning writer and performer, visited an Introduction to Theatre class led by Professor Bertie Ferdman on December 1, 2015. Scruggs shared his creative process with students and discussed his groundbreaking performance pieces addressing social crises such as racism in America and shootings of unarmed men of color.
Scruggs was awarded a 2015 MAP Grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation as well a grant from the Mellon Foundation to write and produce his performance piece 3/5 (Three Fifths), a title which refers to the Three-Fifths Compromise of 1787 declaring that enslaved Africans in the South be counted as 3/5th a person in determining electoral votes. The theatrical work 3/5 explores the root causes of violence perpetrated against people of color, says Scruggs, and does so by incorporating performance, humor, music, theater, choreography and immersive media design.
In his presentation at BMCC, Scruggs engaged the students in a hands-on activity with the creative tools he uses to develop his performances. The students then employed those tools in a final project. They also completed a critical writing assignment reflecting on themes in Scruggs’ work, said Ferdman, such as his use of contemporary social issues in combination with autobiographical experience.