Leveraging the arts to bridge the divide between the public and law enforcement.
It is through our common humanity that we will build the world we want to live in.
At The Red Door, we employ a systems theory philosophy based on the premise that all systems, whether they are institutions, individuals, or cells, are subject to a simple, repeating process through which change occurs. This is what we call the “Evolve Mindset.”
Our end goal is for all of us to Evolve — to undergo a fundamental transformation in how we see ourselves and engage with the world around us. But too often, we get stuck “Protecting.”
Many things can be perceived as a threat: a challenge to self-image, a changing belief system, or a potential loss of status or security. Instead of getting defensive, we suggest getting curious. By moving from “Protect” to “Expand,” we can receive feedback and gain new awareness.
The Red Door Project seeks to create environments where boundaries become more permeable, malleable and expansive, overcoming natural resistance to change. Moving through this cycle helps us become more flexible and effective.
Wilson’s “red door” was the entryway to the Pittsburgh home of his character, Aunt Ester, a mystical figure featured throughout Wilson’s 10-play American Century Cycle.
Aunt Ester was born in the year 1619, the year slaves arrived in America. The color of the door reflects Wilson’s connection to the Yoruba religion, in which shrines were traditionally painted red, a color of purification.
In Wilson’s play Gem of The Ocean a freed slave, Citizen Barlow, is instructed to visit Aunt Ester to get free of the internal chains binding him. As a way to guide his journey of personal transformation Aunt Ester asks him, “What is your life worth, Mr. Citizen? That’s what you got to find out. You got to find a way to live in truth. If you live right you die right.”
For those who are willing, entering Aunt Ester’s red door provides healing from a society ripped apart by the legacy of slavery and racism. The Red Door Project’s work is inspired by this journey of transformation and redemption.
Kevin is the Red Door Project’s Artistic Director, CEO and Co-Founder. He is an award-winning actor and director who has performed on the American stage for more than 40 years. Kevin is also a communication, organizational and diversity consultant with over 25 years’ experience working with private and non-profit organizations.
Lesli Mones is the Red Door Project’s Curriculum Director and Co-Founder. She is an executive coach and advisor who is known for her straightforward yet compassionate style. With a background in psychology, and more than thirty years of experience working with individuals and teams, Lesli has developed an uncanny ability for both getting to the heart of issues, and helping to illuminate the path forward.
Patrick is the Red Door Project’s Executive Director. Through his work at Northwest Classical Theater Collaborative, Patrick brought classical theatrical performances to culturally underserved audiences in prisons, shelters, and rural communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. He is an award-winning director with local credits at Defunkt Theatre, Portland Actors Ensemble, Post5 Theatre, Bag&Baggage Productions, and the Fertile Ground Festival. His work across the country includes credits at Chautauqua Theatre Company, The Guthrie Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Compass Rose Theatre, Theater Workshop of Nantucket, Steppenwolf Theatre, and the Hangar Theater.
Jory is the Red Door Project’s Development & Communications Manager. Jory worked extensively as an AEA stage manager in the Portland theater community from 2011-2018, with credits at Artists Repertory Theater, Third Rail Repertory Theatre, Coho Productions, and more. Currently residing in Austin, TX, Jory has served as Board Treasurer of the Blues Association of Austin, and volunteers with Love-A-Bull, an organization that works to improve the image and lives of pit bull-type dogs through community support, education, advocacy, and rescue.
Paige is the Red Door Project’s Production Project Manager. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a degree in Technical Production & Design. Her stage management career spans over ten years working in various Southern California theaters including Saddleback Civic Light Opera’s McKinnley Theatre, The Historic Lankershim Arts Center, Pasadena Playhouse’s Carrie Hamilton Theatre, and the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse. Prior to moving to Portland, she was the Director of Production & Design at California School of the Arts – San Gabriel Valley.
Tiona is the Red Door Project’s Executive Coordinator. Tiona is a former Peace Corps Volunteer (Botswana). She worked for 10+ years supporting, advocating for & mentoring international students studying in the U.S. (from more than 100 countries) and BIPOC & first generation college students. Tiona has extensive experience in higher education & non-profit administration. A Florida native, Tiona is learning to hike and is enjoying exploring Portland’s quirky local eateries and plant shops.
The Red Door Project uses monologues because stories are great tools for learning from one another. When we listen to the stories of other people, we see ourselves in those stories. This opens us up to compassion, which offers possibilities for how we can live together on this planet in less polarized and reactive ways.
A monologue is simply a long speech by one actor. With just one actor speaking, a monologue invites the viewer to be part of the conversation.
Monologues from The New Black Fest’s Hands Up: 7 Playwrights, 7 Testaments are autobiographical, and explore 7 Black playwrights’ feelings around and experiences with racial profiling. This show was commissioned by The New Black Fest in the wake of the police shootings of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and John Crawford III in Beavercreek, Ohio, among others. The Red Door Project brought this show to Portland in 2016, expecting a short run of 6 shows. The community and funders rallied around the show, turning this short run into a multi-year project, leading to nearly 70 performances across the Pacific Northwest between 2016 and 2019.
Monologues from Cop Out: Beyond Black, White & Blue are based on interviews with police officers, representing a diversity of race, rank and identity. The Red Door Project developed this show in conversation with Hands Up as a way to explore the issue from another point of view.
Written by playwrights from across the country, the monologues depict cops as they interact with the community, each other, their families, and the institutions they represent. Many of these monologues explore the intersection of identities of police officers of color, who often feel caught between two worlds.
“Pushing boundaries” is a goal shared by many in the arts community—though achieving that goal, along with attracting audiences and financial resources, is an eternal struggle.
Portland’s August Wilson Red Door Project is becoming widely recognized for creating powerful and deeply complicated theatrical experiences that attract sold-out audiences and lots of attention. And they’ve accomplished this feat with little to no marketing.
Kevin E. Jones is the principal conjurer and co-creator of The August Wilson Red Door Project, a nonprofit using the arts to change racial ecology. As Artistic Director and CEO, Kevin brings decades of experience as a professional theatre artist and a communications consultant, whose approach utilizes systems thinking, cognitive mechanics, and organizational change theory.
Produced as part of News Hour’s Arts and Culture Series, this segment introduces the work of The Red Door Project. Cat Wise’s reporting provides insight into the origins of the Evolve Experience and the way in which it fosters dialog and provides a model for how communities can meaningfully engage on the issue of race and policing. The filming took place as the Evolve Experience was performed for the first time, and features interviews with The Red Door’s founders, the retired deputy chief of the Portland Police Bureau, and cast members.
As we are growing in our capacity to deliver our programs, we are also growing in our capacity to keep our supporters informed about our work. This annual report will give you an overview of our activities in 2022, information about our financials, and a sneak peek of where we’re headed next. We are committed to transparency, and if you have any questions, or if there’s anything you’d like to know about that isn’t included here, please reach out!
As part of our commitment to transparency, we hire an independent firm to audit our financials annually. We are happy to provide these audited financial statements, which demonstrate our long-term fiscal responsibility.