I’ve come across very few organizations which tackle sensitive and complex issues with such fearlessness as the Intersection. Based out of San Francisco, this alternative art space is currently involved in a yearlong exploration of the California prison system entitled, “The Prison Project.” Here musicians, actors, performers, scholars, and activists collaborate to expose the vast issues of imprisonment. The first show to launch this project is a theatre piece co-written by Jimmy Santiago Baca and Ntozake Shange called, A Place to Stand.
The Intersection has partnered with a mosaic of organizations in the community to work through this project including, California Prison Focus, BuildingBloc, and Prison Radio. I’ve been a regular audience member at the Intersection (and have, at times, volunteered as well), and am always impressed by their unique ability to bring various facets of the community together to expose pressing issues in a way that captivates the viewers.
Last year, resident artists Campo Santo presented Hamlet: Blood in the Brain that literally left me crying for days. It revealed a segment of life—a reality that is so far from my own but so close to others’. I wept for injustice, for inequality, for sadness and hurt and death and sorrow. The performance finished, the actors pulled out chairs and settled onstage to answer questions from the audience. My tears freely flowing, I looked up and locked eyes with one of the actors who with a simple nod of his head acknowledged my process. I was so deeply moved not just by the performance or the material that was presented that evening, but by the pure courage with which these actors undertake their roles every night. For weeks, each and every one of those performers go deeper into themselves to reveal the often terrible ways issues like imprisonment, gangs, drugs, and homelessness affect each and every one of us on a cellular level. No one is left untouched.
I applaud this art space for the brave and conscious work they are doing, and encourage San Francisco residents and visitors to peek at the Intersection’s calendar. Along with theatre, one will find jazz, literary series, and works in progress occurring almost every night, and can enjoy the free art gallery upstairs featuring multi-media artists. Check out theintersection.org.