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Casting Call: Room

Room, a variation on the escape room, is an interactive multimedia installation, performance, and speculative retelling of historical narratives from the lives of three women, enslaved in colonial America. The project has been conceived and directed by artist Marisa Williamson. Room will be open as an exhibition during SPACES’ public hours. The interactive game play and live lessons will be free, but viewers must sign-up to attend.


Tituba has magic powers. She is intelligent, sensitive, and capable. She cannot help but attract suspicion. The dark, West Indian woman, strange among strangers in Salem Village, dresses in black and often wears her hood pulled up over her extraordinary hair.

Sally Hemings is a seamstress. With time and patience, her obsessive mind and unsettled hands can pull almost anything together. While she works, her imagination runs far and wide; beyond Monticello, beyond her master’s restrictive pen, rummaging through the past before fleeing quietly into the future. Sally has the secret gift of foresight.

Phillis Wheatley is a genius. She was only eight when she was kidnapped and shipped from Africa to America. To the Boston family that purchased her, it was obvious that the young creature had talent. She taught herself from her master’s books; a private and uncommon education. Phillis is a poet. Her poetry is stirring.


Performers will be contracted for performances: July 11,13, 18, and 20 (5:30-9:30pm). We anticipate approximately 15-25 hours of rehearsal (to be scheduled), including technical run-throughs, prior to performance events. A stipend for participation will be provided.


Escape rooms became popular in North America in the 2010s. They offer players an opportunity to engage with each other and compete against the clock to solve puzzles and challenges using clues, hints, and strategy. The content of these puzzles and challenges relates to the theme of Room, being presented at SPACES from June 21 - Aug 2, 2019.

This new media platform adapted for the space of the gallery, operates as a framing device for narratives inspired by three historical women: Phillis Wheatley, Tituba of Salem Village, and Sally Hemings. The details of their lives are extraordinary, unique, and not widely known or even knowable. Yet, as black women in colonial America, enslaved for the majority or entirety of their lives, the challenges they faced--the puzzles, strategies, and obstacles in their environments--can be assumed to share some common themes. Room takes up these themes; blackness, privilege, genealogies of resistance, and the possibility of escape--as they may, or may not be compatible with the escape room form, as dictated by rules and/or commensurate with skill, strength, endurance, or luck.


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