“And They Lynched Him on a Tree” a documentary film

 

LynchedPosterV5Dear Friends,

I wanted to let you know that my documentary film will be shown at the Putney School this coming Sunday Evening at 7:30.

The film is made up of interviews with white and black performers of the William Grant Still piece “And They Lynched Him on a Tree” (composed

in 1940) which tells the story of an already convicted black man who was lynched by a white mob

for whom justice was too slow. The white chorus sings the part of the lynchers and the black chorus sings the pats of the lynchees.

Despite the graphic poster, no violent imagery is included.  Embodying the lyrics

through singing brings the experience of the story (and our shared history) home in a very visceral way and forms the foundation from which

the interviews were drawn. I was interested in how this experience might be different for the performers from reading about this aspect of

our history or seeing it portrayed in dramatic films and what deeper reflection it might inspire.

In the time between when the performance of the piece was first conceived a year ago by

Cailin Manson, the choral director, and the time it was performed (Martin Luther King day this year) the

endless news of police shootings colored much of what was said in the interviews.

It has a dramatic arc, interspersed with rehearsal clips and final performance and has much to give us hope

that further dialog might be possible. (51 minutes)

Hope to see you there-

christopher

 

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