092: Performance and story for environmental and health justice. The Lillies Project, and the Burns, Human Rights and Capabilities Project with Dr. Marie Garlock. [Episode 2 of 2]

“Communities seeking healthcare and environmental justice always have the best answers for how to transform their own conditions.” The second of two episodes with Dr. Marie Garlock discussing the role of performance and storytelling in health and environmental justice movements. In this episode we discuss the Lillies Project, an environmental justice project in Stokes County, NC, United States and the Burns, Human Rights and Capabilities Project in Malawi, Africa. All three of these projects fall under the umbrella of health justice and performative story collaborations, and they all include a number of partners and contributors, which is a staple of Marie’s work. 

At the conclusion of this conversation, I asked Marie for tips to share with artists who’d like to do this kind of work, but don’t know where to start and Marie answered that question with the same grace, humor, and compassion that you’ll hear throughout our conversation.

Lillies Project Dan River Ritual — photo by Meredith Branscome

 If you haven’t already, then I encourage you to go back and listen to the previous episode #91 in which we talk about what health justice means more broadly and about the first of three projects that she’s working on titled FLIPPING CANCER focused on people who face advanced cancers as patients, caregivers, + healthcare providers.

Content Warning: A reminder that this can be challenging content. We touch on rampant injustice and inequities, life-threatening illnesses, racism and other traumas. Listen when you feel able.


Marie Garlock, PhD  leads health, performance, collaborative research, and community-building initiatives that span the U.S. South and Global South. Marie is the director of It Is In You projects and is based in Durham, NC. It Is In You partners with people and organizations drawn together by the power of stories to promote health justice including clinicians, artists, scientists, educators, policymakers, faith and advocacy leaders across diverse communities, institutions, and coalitions. For over a decade now, Marie Garlock has been creating performances based on collaborative, community-embedded research. She works with learners and luminaries of all demographics to facilitate workshops, organize festivals, and offer tailored programs in creative communication and health equity across the U.S. and internationally. 

Mentioned: 091: The power of story to promote health justice. Flipping Cancer with Dr. Marie Garlock. [Episode 1 of 2]

This episode is brought to you by the Soapboxers, the official patrons of the Artist Soapbox. If you like these episodes and want more, get on the Soapbox!  This episode was recorded at the ASBX home studio. Artist Soapbox theme music by Bart Matthews. 

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Let’s talk about two more of the projects you are working on:

  1. The Lillies Project in Stokes County, NC
  2. Burns, Human Rights & Capabilities in Malawi

[What is this project? As an artist, how do you work with the participants?]


As an artist, what ‘does it take’ to work in this way with people? There are artists who consider themselves solely entertainers, but might be interested in supporting your work or dipping their toes into social justice work — what would you suggest for them?

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Quotes from Marie:

  • “Ritual–as time, space, and intention set aside–gives breath to memory and ignites imagination among people who deal with loss, trauma, and crises worsened or imposed by health injustices.”
  • “Adapted ritual and interactive, devised performance—woven with story/poetry, dance/movement, and musical/visual symbols—affords witness and opportunities for mutual respect within what I’ve come to call the sacred space of suffering. Perhaps even more importantly, these art forms center the creative strength and visionary change-making that arises when affected communities tend to the deep roots of their own dignity and self-worth.”
  • “Communities seeking healthcare and environmental justice always have the best answers for how to transform their own conditions. Performance that seeks to honor these wisdoms can bring them alive for new and different audiences, able to act in multidisciplinary ways on knowledges they now connect to much more intimately.”
  • “Along the way, mentors, communities of artists, scientists, historians, advocates, and listeners have guided me to 3 main styles of performance for health justice: (1) story and theater shaped by oral history adaptations from interviews and InterPlay performance research workshops, (2) ritual installation that is site responsive and part of mass movements/public action or community development and restorative justice programs, (3) bodily being and dance choreography co-made with people facing cancer, environmental health harms, and injury in U.S. South and Global South communities.”

Artist Soapbox

Artist Soapbox is a platform for original scripted audio fiction and an opportunity for artists to discuss their creative work in their own voices. We do this through our interview podcast, our blog, live events, and original audio dramas.

Artist Soapbox is an anti-racist organization. We believe Black Lives Matter. In addition, as a podcast production company, ASBX has signed the Equality in Audio Pact on Broccoli Content.

Artist Soapbox is more than just a podcast.

We lead writers groups, accountability support, workshops, and events. We produce and create audio dramas too! Listen to the Master BuilderThe New Colossus Audio Drama, Jesus Pancake, Declaration of Love, Food for Thought, and ASBX Shorts. Stay tuned to hear about more projects written by the Soapbox Audio Collective Writers’ Group.

Audio Dramas

Jesus (1400 × 1400 px)-2

Jesus Pancake

Jesus Pancake is the newest scripted audio fiction series from Artist Soapbox. Nine episodes of zany dark comedy.


The New Colossus

The New Colossus Audio Drama is a totally unhinged dark comedy reboot of Anton Chekhov’s classic play, THE SEAGULL.


Master Builder

This audio drama was adapted from Tamara’s 2018 stage play produced by Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern and inspired by Henrick Ibsen’s classic, The Master Builder published in 1892.


Declaration of Love

Co-producers Aurelia Belfield and Tamara Kissane of Artist Soapbox commissioned eleven NC playwrights to craft short audio scenes based on the prompt “Declaration of Love.”


Food for Thought

Three pilot episodes of new scripted audio fiction series inspired by the prompt Food for Thought.


ASBX Shorts

ASBX Shorts are six short audio fiction pieces created and produced by North Carolina artists. Artist Soapbox Shorts were specifically contributed by the artists to aid in fundraising and to get everyone excited about Jesus Pancake, our new audio fiction series in development.

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