Tempe Performing Artist Julie Rada: 100 Creatives

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Ashley Sikorski for Ashley Lorraine Photography
Meet Julie Rada.

Phoenix is brimming with creativity. And every other year, we put the spotlight on 100 of the city's creative forces. Leading up to the release of this year's Best of Phoenix issue, we're profiling 100 more. Welcome to the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today: 52. Julie Rada.

"We all want to 'write ourselves' into the cultural history of our time," says Julie Rada. "It just seems like making visible the heroes of people who are generally rendered invisible might be a very powerful experiment."

The Tempe-based performing artist is setting out to do just that with Unsung: The Heroes Project.

See also: Frances Smith Cohen of Phoenix's Center Dance Ensemble: 100 Creatives

With support from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Rada, who recently graduated from ASU's master's of fine arts program, will engage incarcerated men and women at the Federal Correctional Institute in Phoenix in the development of an original performance based on personal heroes and the lost heroes in history.

The artist has wanted to create performance works in prisons for the past 14 years. Last fall the 34-year-old completed an internship at Florence Prison, where she taught Shakespeare, and taught a physical theater workshop at Perryville.

She says that she wants to engage the prison system in her art because she wishes to address mass incarceration as the worst domestic human rights crisis we face.

"It's happening on our watch and in our backyards," Rada says. "I wish I could transform the whole paradigm of retributive justice in this country. As it stands, I am a theatremaker with a theatremaker's tools at my disposal. I make performances in prisons as my best attempt to intervene in a very broken system."

The performance will take place at the facility, though Rada says that she'd like to develop a piece that could both inside and outside the prison. "Using selections from Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's Voices of a People's History of the United States as springboards for our own fictional and auto-ethnographic writings, we will compile a new performance text, to be staged for prison staff and peers in August," Rada says. "I am spending most of my time prepping for this."

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