Welcome to American Blues Theater’s Chicago premiere of Roan @ the Gates written by Artistic Affiliate Christina Telesca Gorman and directed by Lexi Saunders.  We’re proud to share this relevant and timely story.

You’ll find hundreds of news articles about data collection breaches, whistleblower protections, and surveillance of U.S. citizens by our own Democratic and Republican-led administrations. Open a newspaper or search your browser. Ask Alexa. Or Siri. Or Echo. Heck, even On-Star will respond if they’re feeling cheeky.

Do you read the privacy statements before using a new app? What about reading the ever-changing notices from your credit card companies? Ever receive a pop-up ad about a subject in which you’ve had a conversation only to suspect your phone or computer was “listening”?

Christina Telesca Gorman’s title character Roan says, “What’s being collected and stored is not information; it’s leverage.” 

There are five U.S. federal laws that include a right of access to personal data: Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Family Educational Rights and Privacy Acts (FERPA), Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), and Privacy Act of 1974.  In addition, California’s privacy act for residents began January 1, 2020.  The most comprehensive data protection legislation is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union. Even the United Nations created an aspirational Sustainable Development Goal 16, target 9, which calls for the provision of legal identity for all human beings.

This play’s drama teeters on the balance between marriage vows and the required oath to the Constitution by some federal employees. Christina Telesca Gorman made this topic personal, intimate, and poignant. As you weigh Roan’s decisions in this perilous situation, try not to think about all the data points collected on you today: point-of-sale purchases, web addresses visited, social media posts, cell-phone tower pings, and municipal and private businesses’ video and audio recording devices.

If you haven’t heard this battle cry yet, you will:

data rights are human rights.

– Gwendolyn Whiteside

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