Amiri Baraka Memorial (Johannesburg, South Africa)
I’ve been invited by the Department of Arts and Culture (South Africa) to participate in memorial services for Amiri Baraka on Wednesday, January 22nd 2014. I was first introduced to his plays Dutchman and The Slave as an undergraduate theatre major at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It was a pivotal moment in my development as an artist and a young black man. His words had the power to reveal the weight of history in a contemporary moment. Many years later I would perform Dutchman in Johannesburg South Africa and found his work just as potent in this post-apartheid context. The relevance of his work unfortunately continues to strike chord in a world were liberation and freedom are still being fought for in every corner of the globe. It especially rings true for those whom he first sought to educate and unshackle. He wasn’t content to write from his corner of Newark, but was one of the key architects and drivers of the Black Arts Movement. A movement that harnessed the power of artist to liberate, educate and empower Black people during the civil rights movement and beyond. The seeds that were planted during the Black Arts Movement continue to bear fruit in my work as a commercial artist and as an Artivist (Artist + Activist). I’m honored to add my voice to the many that are celebrating his life and legacy. Thank you Amiri Baraka aka Leroi Jones.
WE ARE HERE in Tembisa
Since being back in South Africa I’ve jumped head first back into We Are Here! On February 1st, 2014 we will conduct our second workshop with TX Theatre Productions located in Tembisa. The company is comprised of young men who devise socially and culturally relevant theatre. I will be co-facilitating the workshops with WAH ambassadors, Abel Mokwevho and Simphiwe Makapela
The Hunting of the Snark at the University of Michigan
From May 17th -24th , 2014 I’ll be at the University of Michigan participating in a workshop and lecture demonstration performance of The Hunting of the Snark. The piece will be directed by Anita Gonzalez. It’s an exciting process that is allowing me to work within an ensemble while exploring movement based devising, traditional storytelling and projection mapping!
I awoke that morning early...too early. The sun wise thinking to rise, night still tucked under his chin. I imagined he lay there listening to the steady sound of distant planets rotating through space...a sound akin to the swish of naked pirouettes on silk. He listened to inner rumblings and tiny explosions resonating from deep within....a celestial meditation hour. It was at that moment that I propelled myself from bed intent on active brain and diving into one of several incomplete something's that niggle at the base of my brain. Somewhere between the computer starting and intention she popped into my head. My finger dialed on instinct, not a surprised to me. Connected we jumped down the rabbit hole. She three more hours awake than I...i called to...just for...because...there's no rhyme or reason no purpose of the season. I called because I could. Company charges a thing of the past, no roaming, long distance or anytime minute concerns. We shared greetings and new things. Caught up on gossip and how you feeling now. Shifted from morning pleasantries and settled into the meat of our lives. Then a shift...a spot light...focused on my Oregon fellowship...a communing of art and man. "Tell me about you, oh love of mine" caught by surprise,but needing to unwind I launched into truth talk about this magical time. She paused me as she loosed her witch work and unraveled my mind, spoke to my spirit and channeled the divine. She spoke me and stroked me. Released me on my way. Affirmed me, bibled me and told me what the goddess had to say. I closed my eyes, sat inside and let it all wash over and through...blessings to start my day. I rose shook it on...locked the best of the best in place. That's the kinda start I welcome to everyday.
Gratitude Goddess, gratitude!
I arrived in Ashland, Oregon a few days before the start of my fellowship. My intent was to allow myself time to becomeacclimated to the town before immersing myself in the world of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). I recently just finished an MA in Applied Theatre where developing a consciousunderstanding of the community within which one works and lives had been drilled into us. I found Ashland to be a small, but cosmopolitan in its amenities. I also found its inhabitants to be warm and genuinely curious about the outsider. Its geography is protective, beautiful and inviting. The combination of inviting folks and inspiring environment encouraged me to be open to strangers and long for aimless walks. By the time I started my fellowship I was ready to see if my broader Ashland community observations would extend to the bubble of OSF. I found the company to be a fair reflection of the community within which it resides. My co-workers are an interesting blend of disciplines and originate from locals across the US. Their common denominator seems to be a love of theatre and a passion for OSF.I didn’t quite know what to expect of the fellowship in terms of my daily duties, but came open to whatever the experience would require of me. My first day included an orientation by the fair program manager, a thorough mind boggling tour of the OSF campus and lunch with my fellowship mentor. The lunch was a candid and relaxed dialogue that outlined expectations, responsibilities, and communication styles/systems and brought into focus a kindred spirit. My experience at OSF has been an ongoing recognition of like minds who truly believe that theatre has the power to impact lives. During my graduate studies there was often discussion about the inability of theatre to be both commercial and revolutionary. I maintained that it can and on some levels it must in order to be self sustaining and viable. I’m glimpsing at OSF that possibility in action as strong leadership seeks to find a balance between theatre that is entertaining, commercial and transformative. I’ll keep watching and probing and examining to see how this experiment unfolds.
Carnival and Jouvert: A Repository of Spirit, Community and Culture
(artist +activist) uses his/her artistic talents to fight and struggle against injustice and oppression—by any medium necessary