A Breath for George

Instructor Brian Grandison
8/31/20

George Floyd’s murder sparked protests, civil unrest and critical dialogue across the nation as a well as the world. Murals and memorials have been created in his honor around the Twin Cities, specifically at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue where Floyd took his last few breaths.

New Dawn Theatre Company, alongside many Minnesota artists, created the documentary, “A Breath for George,” to honor Floyd's life. The creation of the film began as a dialogue about his death and systemic racism amongst the theatre company’s founding members.

“New Dawn is a collection of artists started by Austene Van and 5 or 6 other amazingly talented women,” said Minneapolis College Theater Arts Instructor and New Dawn member Brian Grandison (pictured on the right). “They met and they were having conversations around the topic and [the documentary] sort of organically sprang up based on those conversations.”

With the purpose of honoring Floyd’s life, focusing on critical discussions around systemic racism and police brutality and providing hope for the future, the film features various Minnesota public figures and artists including, Melvin Carter Jr., James Craven, T. Mychael Rambo, Thomasina Petrus and more.

“There is value in people knowing that they are not alone in the way that they are feeling right now,” said New Dawn Artistic Director Austene Van regarding the film.  “There is also value in speaking truth to people who have never heard our stories or been in position to hear our stories.”

“The Talk” is a term used to describe the conversation many Black parents and guardians have with their Black children about how they should act when they have an encounter with the police. “The Talk” is also discussed in the documentary. For Grandison, he considers this one of the most important parts of the film, involving his friend and fellow actor James Craven.

“The story James Craven tells about getting ‘The Talk,’ is about how his parents sat him down… when he moved from New York to Minneapolis,” said Grandison. Craven kept delaying having ‘The Talk’ with his son because, ‘he didn’t think his son was old enough.’ [It’s] the idea of when do we have this conversation? When do we talk about it,” said Grandison.

Over the summer, New Dawn worked with 6 other Twin Cities-based theaters to host free outdoor screenings of the film. The theater company has scheduled more screenings for the fall. All screenings will follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Online showings are coming soon:

  • September 1 at 8:00 p.m.—Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • September 3 at 8:00 p.m.—Hallie Q Brown, at Martin Luther King Recreation Center
  • September 11 at 8:00 p.m.—University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Northrop Auditorium
  • September 15 at 7:30 p.m.—University of Wisconsin - River Falls

See the New Dawn Theatre Company schedule of events