A mosaic photo of Melisande Short Colombe, comprised of hundreds of smaller personal and historical photos from her life
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The Laboratory for Global Performance & Politics Presents World Premiere Original Virtual Production “Here I Am,” in Conjunction with Emancipation Day the Week of April 16 (Opening Night April 15th at 5:30 p.m.)

An Original Performance by Mélisande Short-Colomb, Descendant of the GU272, Bringing Her Family’s History of Slavery to the Table of Acknowledgement

Washington, DC – The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics (The Lab) is pleased to
present “Here I Am,” a multimedia performance uplifting the story of Mélisande Short-Colomb, a
native of New Orleans who began her studies at Georgetown in 2017 at the age of 63.
Mélisande is a direct descendant of Abraham Mahoney and Mary Ellen Queen who were among
the 314 members of the group known today as the GU272, enslaved people owned and sold by
the Maryland Jesuits in 1838 to rescue Georgetown University from insolvency and bankruptcy.

“Our ancestors have waited patiently through centuries for us to come to the table of
acknowledgement. ‘Here I Am’ fulfills my desire to give voice to those families, including my own,
and to our tenacity and strength as a people — to close the full circle where we began our
American lives three centuries ago and where we are today.” – Mélisande Short-Colomb

More than an autobiographical chronicle, this ritualistic experience weaves narrative, music, and
imagery, inviting the audience on an experiential journey exploring Colomb’s loving and
complicated relationship with the institution that enslaved her ancestors. Interrogating
uncomfortable truths, rather than offering easy answers, Here I Am challenges participants to
bear witness and to reckon with their own histories, and to imagine the future of racial justice in

“ ‘In my view, we all must make as many contributions to upholding the truth in our national
consciousness and conversation as we can. Being a part of ‘Here I Am’ gave me another
opportunity to be a part of the truth telling that will ultimately free us all” notes project co-creator
Nikkole Salter.

“Here I Am” is co-created in collaboration with Nikkole Salter (Obie Award-winning playwright);
Somi Kakoma (Grammy Award-nominated musician), and Derek Goldman (Co-Director of The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics). Somi Kakoma also contributes as Composer and with Vocal Performance alongside Mélisande in this fully virtual performance. The innovative multimedia design is led by award-winning designer Jared Mezzocchi.

“It’s been an honor and an inspiration over these five years to work closely with Meli and to
witness the development of her extraordinary testimonial– as a descendant, a witness, a force
for truth, and as a catalyst for essential conversations and necessary change.” – Derek Goldman

“Here I Am” will premiere online in conjunction with Emancipation Day the week of April 16.

Preview: Tuesday, April 13 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Opening Night: Thursday, April 15 at 5:30 p.m. ET in association with the Universities Studying
Slavery Annual Conference, hosted by Georgetown
Friday, April 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, April 17 at 3:00 p.m. ET

Talkback Discussions will follow each performance.

Team of Co-creating Artists

Jeremy Bennett, Multimedia
Michael Donnay, Stage Management and Research Dramaturgy
Derek Goldman, Direction and Script Development/ Dramaturgy
Jared Mezzocchi, Multimedia Design and Direction
Andre Pluess, Sound Design
Nikkole Salter, Script Development/Dramaturgy and Direction
Alberto Segarra, Lighting Design
Somi Kakoma, Composer and Vocal Performance
Alex Troesch, Original Photography

This event is part of the Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program’s
2020-21 15th anniversary season, “Seeds of Change: Reimagining the World,” programmed by
Davis Performing Arts Center Artistic Director Prof. Maya E. Roth.

Mark your calendar and register for this FREE event here:

Contact: Alyssa Kardos
Communications Assistant, The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics
(202) 257-7576