Sabrina Peck: Director and Choreographer
Original Works




Young Artists

Cornerstone Theater

About the Artist

Speaking Our Streets

Speaking our Streets grew out of a class in community-based performance that I taught at Duke. Just past the ivy walls lay the neighborhood of the West End, a neighborhood often publicized in the local media for drive-bys and drugs. Students accompanied me into the neighborhood to conduct theater and dance workshops, oral histories and research with teens, seniors, African-American former tobacco factory workers, Latino tobacco field workers, religious leaders, 60s civil rights activists, Duke cafeteria workers, and other local residents. The portrait of the community that emerged was far more complex than the students had imagined. Seniors shared with teens stories of what the neighborhood was like in its "heyday," when the school at the center of the community was bustling (not boarded up) and the neighborhood was intact (not ripped in two by a highway). At the same time, young people spoke of the pressures they live with every day and their frustrations over how they are misperceived.

Speaking our Streets interwove these stories into a rich theater piece with dance, music and slide projections. The performers were community members of all ages and Duke students from the class. Several "portraits" were set to the recorded voices of some extraordinary people: Katherine Harris, (the first African-American supervisor at the American Tobacco factory); Bob Davis (an African-American former Duke worker who recalled the details of segregation and baseball in Durham); and Peytan Langley, an 11-year old girl who eloquently described how writing poetry "took the stress out." We performed it to diverse audiences both in the West End and on the Duke campus.

Sabrina Peck
West End Community Center teens, Lyon Park Recreation Center seniors, residents of the West End, guest artist Clay Tagliaferro and Duke students from Peck's course in community-based performance
Robert Stromberg and Sabrina Peck
Vito Di Bona, Bradley Simmons and David Watford
Ed James
Mayme Webb, Thomas Womble, Jessica Almy Pagan, Maura Dillon, Lilja Stefansson and Anna Chapman
Jessica Almy Pagan
The Institute of the Arts at Duke University and The Center for Documentary Studies

"Thanks so much for the beautiful gift of "Speaking our Streets." You have a marvelous way of organizing the thoughts, words, movements and sounds of a community into an art form. You were persistent in your desire to tell this story, a story that involved all the layers of the community—the seniors, the youth and our new Latino influence. The work was moving and very thought provoking. It really showed how fluid our community has been over time and how it continues to evolve."
—from a letter by Mayme Webb, West End resident

Photo Essay