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Wanda's Picks April 2014
Written by Wanda Sabir   
Tuesday, 01 April 2014
Notes from Prison

By Wanda Sabir

Beverly Henry died. I just got the email today. I don’t know if she made it to Cirque Soleil or to the snow or to Disneyland. When one's time is short, the list can get long and after most of her adult life behind bars for drug related crimes, Chopper had a lot of living to catch up on. 

I don’t know if she ever found out where the cancer was located and if it was connected to the mastectomy she had with no follow-up in prison 20 years before? I wonder what her daughter thinks of the $1,000.00 she was able to leave her? I caught the train down to visit her only visited once in February about a month before she died. She was in a lot of pain, her poor body not what it was when the state took her into custody--There should be a guarantee that a person will leave in better condition than when they entered, rather than the reverse.

The State of California owes women prisoners their lives back—imagine going into prison healthy and leaving with a terminal illness. This is the case for many of the women there. Beverly Henry told me to tell her story and I plan to begin right now. A warrior to the end, it was her voice that told women to stand up for their rights even perhaps especially behind bars.

Today is March 21 (the morning Chopper died)—

Spring is here in the Central Valley where more women used to be locked up than in any other place in the country, perhaps world. I don’t know about those numbers since converting VSPW or Valley State Penitentiary for Women into a men’s prison a couple of years ago, but California is still in the lead for incarceration and the closing of this prison doesn’t mean the women were released, no, they were just shifted to another cell elsewhere—often county systems which are ill-prepared for the stresses and needs of those incarcerated for long periods of time.  California is not off the hook; one woman I met with laughed and said, “They release 30 and admit 80 more.  Overcrowding is still high.”

I can’t remember how long I have been participating in California Coalition for Women Prisoners Legal Advocacy team, Sister-to-Sister, I’d have to look back at reflections written or photos, but it has been at least six-eight maybe more years. I cannot think of any activity I have been a part of that brings so much pain as it uplifts my soul. I do what I do for them. Every time I meet someone inside who is happy to see me no matter how long it has been or that I might have forgotten their names or the details of the case, the fact that I am there gives them hope, hope I always hope is not displaced given the fact that resources have decreased over the years which means we do not have a staff attorney dedicated to habeas cases, that is, women convicted of crimes connected to spousal abuse. The majority of women with capital cases are battered women.

This time I met two women who were excited to meet the columnist: “Wanda’s Picks.” It is these smiles that make me continue to visit and write despite the ever increasing load I place on myself as needs increase while the hours to accomplish goals and objectives stay the same.

I got up at 4:30 a.m. to prepare for the all day excursion to Chowchilla State Prison that morning March 21. I even hosted a special radio show on Thursday so I could rebroadcast it the following morning almost three hours earlier (5:30 a.m. instead of 8 a.m.).  After starting the pre-recorded broadcast, I showered, jumped into my clothes, texted Hafsa that I was running late at 6:15 a.m. and drove to the West Oakland BART Station.

When I got into the rental van Friday morning at 6:45 a.m. the energy was youthful exuberance and excitement. The six women were introducing themselves, sharing stories of graduate school plans, current projects which ranged from work with incarcerated juveniles, volunteer projects that matched adults with youth for mentoring and a rehabilitation program which at 50 percent recidivism rate, is seen as successful. A wrap around program, this is one that supposedly connects prisoners with services to provide for needs which were critical in any sobriety intentioned program, yet with minimal follow up and no guarantees.

I listened and watched the women settle in after introductions, with their technology—iPhones all around. Some were mothers having to juggle work with school with parenting. All seemed to be doing well—one woman was just accepted into law school on a substantive scholarship, another was taking a trip to the east coast to visit colleges and universities. Still another, a recent transplant from the East Coast was completing her graduate internship with former prisoners with alcohol and drug problems. All were college grads or about to be graduates from elite and prestigious institutions like UC Berkeley and Smith. We were a mix of three volunteer groups traveling together, one the Sister-to-Sister teamed up with the Compeñeras Team who are bilingual Spanish, as the Sister to Sister team has minimum members so to keep active we had to bring in others—

Ultimately it is about freeing the women and advocating for their human rights.


Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” in Oakland


This performance, April 16 and 17, 8 p.m. both days, at The Uptown, 1928 Telegraph Avenue (at 19th Street), benefits the California Coalition for Women Prisoners Benefit.  

Tickets are available online at:  TVMOAKLAND.BPT.ME

CCWP is a grassroots social justice organization, with members inside and outside prison, that  challenges the institutional violence imposed on women, transgender people, and communities of color by the prison industrial complex (PIC).

Theatre

Cultural Odyssey in association with African American Art & Culture Complex presents: RHODESSA JONES & IDRIS ACKAMOOR 35th Anniversary Showcase of New Works!

Thursday, Friday, & Saturday, April 3rd, 4th, & 5th, 2014, 6 PM - 11 PM. There is a SPECIAL GALA PARTY ON SATURDAY! All performances are at the Buriel Clay Theater, 762 Fulton Street in San Francisco. Tickets are $10-$25. Regular: $20 - $25. Call 415-292-1850 and/or log on to www.culturalodyssey.org/tickets or brownpapertickets.com/event/584286 .

Watch this preview: http://culturalodyssey.org/v2/season/spring14/video.php


Engaged Faith: An Update from Haitian Fr. Didi Horace with translation by Pierre Labossiere
Friday, April 4, 2014, at 7 p.m. at the Newman Hall/ Holy Spirit Parish, 2700 Dwight Way in Berkeley. Admission is free. For information call 510-482-1062.
 
Many people are familiar with “the too painful to look at” facts about Haiti: 10 years after the coup which ended the reforms of the Aristide government; four years following the earthquake which killed hundreds of thousands; the cholera epidemic carried to Haiti by UN ‘Peacekeepers;’ billions of dollars on non-disbursed foreign aid with billions more unaccounted for; luxury hotels built to promote tourism while sweatshops provide the only labor for the hundreds of thousands of Haitians still living in tent camps.

However people are less familiar with the community-driven responses to these realities exemplified by the parishioners of native born Father Didi Horace. As Superior of Voluntas Dei, Haiti, he oversees its seven missions in largely rural areas of Haiti with one in Port au Prince. Each mission includes a school which also provides for the nutritional and healthcare needs of its students, some of whom walk four miles daily to attend. His ministry brings him in daily contact with both the issues of everyday life confronting rural and urban life and church-based initiatives to address them.

Fr. Horace is visiting the Bay Area for the first time.Pierre Labossiere, Co-founder of the Haiti Action Committee; Haiti Emergency Relief Fund (HERF); Haiti Committee, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant,  is very familiar providing tangible support to the Haitian poor who have been largely ignored. Besides direct aid (food, clean water systems, medical supplies) HERF funds schools, mobile health clinics staffed by visiting US medical teams, and micro loans for everything from local food production to worker cooperatives. Pierre will translate Fr. Didi’s presentation.
 
Free will donations to HERF will be gratefully accepted. Visit www.haitisolidarity.net


Jazz Hero Award Goes To . . . The Dynamic Ms. Faye Carol

The Jazz Journalists Association Recognizes the Dynamic Miss Faye Carol with the Jazz Hero Award at Yoshi’s, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, 1-3 p.m., Saturday, April 12, 2014. $20. (510) 238-9200, www.yoshis.com


Bay Area Flamenco Film & Concert


Bay Area Flamenco presents: Guitarra de Palo, direct from Spain in person and on the big screen in a Andrea Zapata Girau's hour-long music documentary, Guitarra de Palo. The concert following the film features de Palo and other artists from the film, many among Spain’s top flamenco-jazz artists: flamenco guitarist Anton Jimenez (Joaquín Cortés), renowned flautist, Jorge Pardo (Paco de Lucía/Chick Corea), legendary trumpeter and percussionist Jerry Gonzalez (Fort Apache/Comandos de la Clave); blues-flamenco guitarist Raimundo Amador (Pata Negra), bass player Javier Colina (Bebo & Cigala), percussionist  Isreal Surez “El Piraña” (Buika/Paco de Lucía), flamenco dancer David Paniagua (Antonio Canales) and flamenco singer Rafita Jimenez, Sunday, April 6, 6 p.m. at Brava Theater, 24th and York in San Francisco. For tickets visit www.bayareaflamenco.org Tickets are $25, $45, and $65.

The documentary film,"Guitarra de Palo", by Zapata Girau is an anthropological-musical voyage without dialogue or narration: the music speaks for itself. Shot in Spain, Cuba, the United States, Nicaragua, Germany, Russia and the Cayman Islands, the flamenco guitar acts as the main character as the film showcases some of the most renowned names of flamenco and its contemporary fusions. The documentary is highlighted by its stunning cinematography and its sound design, the work of Goya Award winner (Spain's Academy Awards) Pelayo Guiterrez and Nacho Royo-Villanova. See http://vimeo.com/user18373621/videos

Brava presents Lottie's Ghosts, a new theatrical work written and performed by Shakiri, March 20-April 6, 2014

Brava Theater Center,
2781-24th Street at York, San Francisco, CA 94110. Previews March 20. Runs March 21 – April 6, 2014. Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 p.m. For information and tickets log on to www.brava.org or call 415-641-7657

Brava Artist In Residence and Izzy award-winning choreographer, Shakiri, brings an innovative, original work for the stage to Brava Theater. Adapted from her novel by the same name, Lottie's Ghosts showcases Shakiri's skills as a storyteller, dancer - and as a visual artist with originally crafted, 'larger than life' stick figures she created to populate the stage and bring Lottie’s Ghosts
to life.

In the play - set amid the backdrop of 1960’s Oakland, California when the Black Panthers are active, civil rights are being sought, and the Vietnam War is in full swing - Lottie’s ancestors piggy back a ride with her dead mother, clamor to be heard and, as a result, wreak havoc on her life. In the safety of her sub-basement, she secretly paints them into existence. When Lottie’s adoptive son gets into trouble, she is forced to let go of her quiet demeanor, the unassuming library lady she’s become, and act.

The 10th Annual CubaCaribe Festival of Dance and Music Moving Forward April 5-27

The 10th Annual CubaCaribe Festival of dance and music will feature contemporary, popular and folkloric Caribbean dance and music.  2014 marks a major milestone for the CubaCaribe Festival which naturally inspired the theme, “Moving Forward,” as they honor the roots of the Caribbean and its Diaspora but also look to the future and to creating new cultural experiences for their audiences. The festival has been highly acclaimed for being the only festival to present both contemporary and folkloric cultural expression, religion, history, folklorica and politics of the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora. In this year’s festival we forge new ground with the expansion of what is considered folkloric and contemporary as it evolves to create new forms.

PERFORMANCE ROGRAM

Week 1: Moving Forward                                

April 11-13:    Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th street, San Francisco                                
Friday-Saturday @ 8 pm, Sunday @ 7 pm; Special Family Matinee - Sunday @ 3 p.m.
Tickets: $25 online; $27 door; Special Sunday Family Matinee: $10 youth, $18 adults (12 and older) www.brownpapertickets.com

Week 2: Alayo, Aguas & Arenas
April 17-19: Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon Street, Oakland, Thursday - Saturday @ 8 p.m. Tickets: $25 online; $27 door.  Visit www.brownpapertickets.com

SPECIAL EVENTS

April 5  Dance Workshop: Bomba/Tumba Francesa with Shefali Shah & Cheo Rojas at Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24 Street in San Francisco from  3:15-5:15 p.m. Tickets are $14 online and $18 at the door.

April 9: Lecture/Demo with Gladys “Bobi” Cespedes: The Yoruba Tradition In The Diaspora, Lucumi Migration to the USA at the MoAD or the the Museum of the African Diaspora, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 online and $12 at the door.              

April 16: Film Screening: Tengo Talento (Cuba 2014) Q& A with Dir: Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi at MoAD at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 online, $12 at the door.              

April 27: Closing Cuban Dance Party & CubaCaribe Fundraiser, TBA. For information visit www.cubacaribe.org


Art
Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles at UC Berkeley Art Museum February 12 through April 27, 2014

Barbara Chase Riboud’s Malcolm X steles grace the galleries at the University Art Museum, one of several exhibitions which close this edifice until the new museum opens at a later date. Her reception February evening was like an old homecoming, the who’s who at the talk and reception afterward with Mildred Howard, Arthur Monroe, Neshormeh Lindo, Raymond Saunders, Hubert Collins, and many others, including the founding curator of UCBAM who commissioned Chase-Riboud so many years ago.

What is striking about the art and artistry of Barbara Chase-Riboud, equally well known for her figurative sculpture Africa Rising (1998) which marks the sacred African Burial Ground National Monument site in Lower Manhattan as for her poetry and prose, is the subtle elegance of the petite woman whose visage belies the 40 years she has been making or creating art. The Malcolm X Steles exhibition, (the series created between 1969-2008), Chase-Riboud’s first exhibition in ten years closes the curtain on an institution experiencing a makeover soon to be unveiled. 

In her 1973 solo exhibition BAM/PFA’s founding director Peter Selz commissioned the work Confessions for Myself (1972) from the BAM/PFA collection that introduced Chase-Riboud’s fine art to the West Coast.  It is amazing, yet not amazing considering UC Berkeley’s radical and politicized history that Malcolm X Steles or monuments would conclude this phase of the BAM journey. 

The steles represent lives –the lives of public servants and stateswo(men) and artists, who Chase-Riboud lifts literally in work which combine seemingly incompatible elements—silk and bronze. She works big, the braided cord skirts are hand stitched or woven then attached to the metal bodies – the process is one of philosophical reinvention. The metal pieces varies from warm red to bronze and black; the skirts red, tan and black.  

Drawings and sketches are also a part of the exhibition, many of these portraits include stories one cannot always decipher (smile). It’s a good thing there is a wonderful catalog available. In reading about her life and listening to her speak, I learned that not only did the artist participate in the First Edition of the World Festival of Black Art and Culture, where she met presiding Negritude founding member, President Léopold Sédar Senghor, poet and statesman (1960-80), after she left Senegal, Chase-Riboud also attended the Pan African Festival in Algeria where she met Eldridge and Kathleen Cleaver and other BPP members; a friend of the Party, I can understand better the warm embrace she shared with Sister Elaine Brown that evening, whom she knew well from Ms. Brown’s sojourn in Paris, France (Chase-Riboud’s home for many years). 

(Sister Elaine Brown is everywhere. I saw her recently at the protest against police brutality and Kamala Harris, California District Attorney, mandate to stop, “killer cops.” Ms. Brown spoke and marched with family and friends. Just a week or so before that, I saw her at a policy breakfast called by Supervisor Carson at Geoffrey’s in Oakland). 

Chase-Riboud’s books are sojourns into a Pan African past—where thankfully she is calling names and marking important moments in our collective histories. Chase-Riboud’s art takes us along aesthetically across multiple landscapes and provinces from her first experience at eighteen or nineteen lost in Cairo, Egypt to her state’s dinner with Chairman Mao (1965) –the first American to do so, to her literary career launched, with From Memphis to Peking, by friend and at that time editor, Toni Morrison in 1974.  

Her mastery of the classics begins with Kemet or Egypt and her experiences there remain one of her biggest influences as she trekked the world— doing comparative artistic study, finding everything else—Rome, Greece . . . except perhaps China (smile) paling in comparison. 

“The [artist's] travels to Africa and Asia influenced not only her literary career but also her works of art. Her sculptures are a combination of geometric bronze forms and braided silk fibers.Her best-known 1970s sculptures also reflect African Masks. For example her 1972 freestanding sculpture Confessions for myself was made of black bronze and black wool. The hanging braids and fibrous stands allude to the supernatural, the rites and magic of Africa, and other non-Western realities. In parallel, during the same year, she wrote the poem, ‘Soledad,’” Charles Henry Hall writes on the blog Black World History. This is the year on March 27 the two surviving Soledad Brothers— Fleeta Drumgoole and John Clutchette —were acquitted by a San Francisco jury of the original charges of murdering a prison guard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soledad_Brothers). 

An only child born into a middle class African American family in Philadelphia. Her father, Charles Edward Chase, a contractor, and her mother Vivian May West, a medical technician, this precocious and talented child was taking dance lessons, playing the piano and writing poetry before ten.  Hers was a life, is a life of “yes” – “Yes this is possible.” “Yes, you can do this, if you are disciplined and exhibit mastery and creativity.” And in this encouraging environment, Chase-Riboud excelled.  

This thoughtful woman spoke that evening February 11, with Lawrence Rinder her distinctive use and choice of materials, and how her visual art practice aligns ideas of monument with memory. What I loved about her work and person is the intentional nature of her life; nothing is left to chance and she doesn’t mind being the only women or only black woman at the party (smile).  Chase-Riboud captures in her person what it means to be a Diaspora citizen. 

Born in this nation’s first capital, Philadelphia, her historic novels, Sally Hemings (1979) and Echo of Lions (1989) both characterized by lawsuits.  In the first, the Jefferson’s, the white Jefferson’s did not want to be associated with their black relatives— this work “earned Chase-Riboud the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for the best novel written by an American woman and sold more than one million copies in hardcover” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Chase-Riboud).  It took from 1979 to 2001 for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello and the National Genealogical Society to announce their conclusions that Jefferson had in fact fathers Hemings’s children. “Chase-Riboud having been the catalyst in changing Jeffersonian scholarship forever” (ibid). 

Chase-Riboud, sued DreamWorks for using her book Echo of Lions (1989) as the basis of the screenplay for its film Amistad. DreamWorks’s argument was the since the novel is based in historic fact, which no one owns the rights to, Chase-Riboud could not own the rights to her work. Not only did she get a satisfactory settlement in 1991, Granville Burgess vs. Chase-Riboud.  This copyright decision is an important one that now safeguards one’s rights to creative work based on historic fact. 

“Judge Robert F. Kelly concluded that while ‘laws were not enacted to inhibit creativity . . . it is one thing to inhibit creativity and another to use the idea-versus-expression distinction as something akin to an absolute defense -- to maintain that the protection of copyright law is negated by any small amount of tinkering with another writer's idea that results in a different expression’” (ibid). 

The resulting decision constituted a significant victory for artists and writers, reinforcing protection for creative ideas even when expressed in a slightly different form. Other historic works include Hottentot Venus (2003) completed after France in 2002 finally released Sara Baartman’s remains to South Africa where she was buried nearly 200 years after her birth, August 9, 2002.

Chase-Riboud is known internationally probably because whether it is her sculpture or writing, fiction or poetry, one can find residual elements of her expansive personal landscape on her philosophical or practical walking shoes (smile). 

Look for an expanded piece on her visit in a later article (smile).

On the Fly
The 12th Annual Oakland International Film Festival April 3-6, 2014 opens at the Grand Lake Theatre with the highly anticipated "Toussaint Louverture."  http://www.oaklandinternationalfilmfestival.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/oiff12officialprogram.pdf August Wilson's "Fences" opens at Marin Theatre Company,  397 Miller Avenue in Mill Valley. Check marintheatre.org or call the box office at (415) 338-5208 for exact show times. The 57th San Francisco International Film Festival is April 24 - May 8 at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, New People Cinema and the Castro Theatre in San Francisco and the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley.


33rd Annual NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARDS celebrating books published in 2013 by Northern California authors

Sunday, April 27, 2014, 1:00-2:30 pm: Awards Ceremony: readings & remarks by this year's award-winning authors from 2:30-4:00 p.m.: with a Book signing & Reception

The NCBA is at the San Francisco Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin, enter on Grove, Civic Center, San Francisco. The Reception  follows in the Latino/Hispanic Meeting Room. Nominated books will be on sale by Readers Bookstore at the Main Library. 

The Northern California Book Awards are presented and sponsored by Northern California Book Reviewers, Poetry Flash, Center for the Art of Translation, Red Room (redroom.com), PEN West, Mechanics' Institute, San Francisco Public Library, Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, and Readers Bookstore at the Main.

For more information: Poetryflash.org , 510.525.5476, This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it   Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/575840969192693

The FRED CODY AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN LITERATURE & COMMUNITY goes to Adam Hochschild, author, journalist, historian
The NCBR RECOGNITION AWARD goes to City Arts & Lectures.


World Renowned African Leader Omali Yeshitela in Oakland for April Events for Black Power, Self-Reliance and Black Community Health and Justice Uhuru Movement Will Host a Series of Events to Honor the Legacies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Hutton

During the first weekend in April, the Uhuru House, located at 7911 MacArthur Blvd in Oakland, will host a series of events for the purpose of establishing ongoing economic development and self-reliance within black communities. The three days of activities will begin on Friday, April 4th at 7pm with the showing of the historical film “Eyes on the Prize: the Black Power Years.”

On Saturday, April 5th, and also at the East Oakland location, the Uhuru House presents a Health Fair where practitioners will offer health and wellness workshops, clinics, and information sessions from noon to 4pm. Later that afternoon at 2:30, Uhuru Movement organizers will hold a ceremony to re-open the Uhuru House Garden Project that had been established in the ’90’s.

Finally, on Sunday, April 6th, the Uhuru House will hold a commemoration of the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and “’Lil” Bobby Hutton, who were both killed in April of 1968 in the midst of the struggle for African community political and economic self-reliance. The Sunday event will feature Chairman Omali Yeshitela, leader and founder of the Uhuru Movement, and longtime leader and activist for African self-determination worldwide.

States Bakari Olatunji, local organizer with the Uhuru Movement, “Every year we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; however, we often whitewash the memory of Dr. King who, later in his life, represented the interests of black workers and spoke out against the violence of the U.S.”

Bobby Hutton was the first member of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, CA.  On April 6, 1968, just shy of his 18th birthday, Hutton was gunned down in West Oakland by Oakland police, just two days after the assassination of Martin Luther King.

Continues Olatunji, “’Lil’ Bobby Hutton is not just a local hero, but was a young man who stood tall for African people everywhere against police violence, poverty and oppression. We want to remember both these leaders and emulate the stand they took.”

The Uhuru House hosts activities to bring about change in the community and is part of the African People’s Education and Defense Fund aiming to end disparities in health, education, healthcare and economic development in African communities. The Oakland center is soon to be the home to the well-known Uhuru Foods & Pies and upcoming Uhuru Jiko kitchen, a part of Black Star Industries which includes an independent worldwide African marketplace. For more information contact: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

 
Every Five Minutes in a free performance at Laney College in Oakland, CA Saturday, April 19, 2014

The play Every Five Minutes by Scottish writer Linda McLean, is an unique look into the effects of solitary confinement on one Mo—recently released after 13 years behind bars. Captured by insurgents, he was tortured, denied contact with family or others outside of his captors. The effects of this deprivation are one disorientated man whom we meet at his coming out dinner. His dear friends Rachel and Ben (Carrie Paff and Sean San Jose) spend their13 years getting him free, yet haven’t up to this point been able to see Mo (Rod Gnapp), who has been hiding out with Sara, his wife (actress Mia Tagano). Once again this gifted playwright has brought work to us that immerses her audience into a world along the margins of society—

Though the playwright did not base this story on any one person behind bars, nationally or internationally, there is so much to remind audiences of current stories, one as recent as two weeks ago in the case of Aamer, 45, a Saudi citizen who lived in Britain before capture, who is suffering Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  The NY Times article states that a new strategy employed by attorneys for captives is to focus on the deteriorating health of the aging prisoners. Last December a Sudanese prisoner, Ibrahim Othman Ibahim Idris, “described in court filings as morbidly obese and schizophrenic,” was released (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/08/us/politics/judge-asked-to-free-ailing-guantanamo-detainee.html).

In another story August 2013, we read about 34-year-old Nabil Hadjarab, an Algerian man who grew up in France, picked up in a sweep in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sept. 11, 2001, and charged with links to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. He was tortured every step of the way, first at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, a place that  "would quickly become notorious, and make Guantánamo look like a church camp. When Nabil arrived there in January 2002, as one of the first prisoners, there were no walls, only razor-wire cages. In the bitter cold, Nabil was forced to sleep on concrete floors without cover. Food and water were scarce. To and from his frequent interrogations, Nabil was beaten by United States soldiers and dragged up and down concrete stairs. Other prisoners died. After a month in Bagram, Nabil was transferred to a prison at Kandahar  and finally to Guantánamo Bay January 2002” (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/opinion/sunday/after-guantanamo-another-injustice.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0).   In three separate hearings he was found innocent of the charges and recommended for release, yet remains behind bars.

Solitary confinement is topical in America, especially California with the hunger strikes at Pelican Bay by inmates in protest of the Secured Housing Units or SHU, Ad-seg for “safety” or “disruption.” Mo is an in your face example of the worse of what’s possible—he hears voices, he hallucinates, he has traumatic flashbacks to the torture—  Over dinner, he forgets where he is and at times grows catatonic as footage reels on the theatre wall—where a door lets in a comedic duo –Harpo and Bozo: actors Patrick Alparone and Jomar Tagatac, who invite Mo into their skit—where he is the star of his demise.

Footage show him in a crowd scene smiling, supposedly—the face is so arbitrary—it is supposed to be him, but is it him?  Earlier in flashbacks, we meet the prisoner’s mother who is unsympathetic to her son as she makes excuses for him to his stepfather who kicks him with his boots.

The only friend he seems to have is his little sister—they roll down a hill together—the grassy scene video is really vivid and lush.

90 minutes without intermission, one wonders how many times can we watch Mo’s attitude shift and change –Every five minutes?

Yep.

Strangers appears at the door—Mo hears knocking on doors in his head—the unknown is no longer pleasantly looked forward to, rather it is dreaded. At one point the person on the other side of the door is a Census Taker, actress Maggie Mason. Other times it is a bit more sinister, a creepy man with coal. Mo asks him if he is dead. God even pops by for a visit -- the conversation is amusing, as is the puppetry with one of the three pigs. One's imagination runs about as wildly around the cell as Mo's as he is tortured, then bathed even held by his captors as he loses consciousness.  There seems to be an odd attachment between the villains and the subject, evident in conversation heard just before Mo is released.

The shadows stalking Mo while he wakes are as real to us as they are to him. How does he put them to rest? Will he ever be able to put them to rest?

He crouches on the floor –he blanks out—the story starts over again as his friends do not leave even when his behavior is inexplicable and Sara keeps apologizing while Ben shushes his wife over and over again. I don’t realize until late in the play that we are going forward and back in time with Mo. For him, reality, what he knew 13 years ago has not changed in his mind—suspended, he is surprised when life is not as he left it—

This is disconcerting to him.  Molly (actress Shawna Michelle James), the child he knew as a baby is grown now. It is hard for him to comprehend the change in her. In fact, her growth is almost his demise—it takes him a while to return to present consciousness.

In an audience talk back panel I participated on at the Magic Theatre, April 9, 2014, following a performance with Elaine Elinson, author and journalist, and Veeba Dubal, immigration attorney, a question came up, what did he do?

He didn’t have to do anything to be captured. If the government wants him, he is theirs. It is important to not forget those men and women and children behind bars. Mo, never knew his wife came to visit him or that his friends were fighting for his release for 13 years. Often this is the case when the mail and other contact with the outside world is limited or censored. But the reason the fictional character is freed is because his family and friends would not let his name die. The reason why Mumia Abu Jamal is was not executed is because of the global mobilization. Others were released for the same reason, former prisoners such as: Herman Wallace, Robert H. King, Marilyn Buck and we hope others soon like Patricia Wright at CIW and Albert Woodfox at the David Wade Correctional Center in Homer, Louisiana.

For those for whom the idea of prisons and imprisonment is abstract and over there, Every Five Minutes directed by Loretta Greco, might not make you an activist or prison abolitionist, but it will certainly make your hand shake the next time prison expansion is on the ballot or Three Strikes (or realignment which does not mean releasing prisoners rather shifting them to other facilities which often are ill-equipped for long term imprisonment populations) and you will think before allowing yet more tax dollars go to the fortifying and expanding the prison industrial complex—the New Jim Crow or slavery.

Recommended for mature audiences, ages 17 years old and above. There is frontal nudity in the work. The play is 1 hour and 30 minutes without intermission/

Radio Interview with playwright

Listen to an interview with the playwright, Linda McLean (she is the third guest at 9 a.m.): http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks/2014/03/20/wandas-picks-radio-special-world-water-day-jazz

There is a free performance of Every Five Minutes at Laney College Saturday, April 19, 2014 at 2:30 p.m.; doors open at 2:00 p.m. The play closes Sunday, April 20, 2014 at the Magic Theatre in Ft. Mason Center. Though it is great the Magic offers these free plays and conversations afterward at Laney College, the set doesn't travel so I wonder how the complexity of this drama will translate in a bare stage. A lot of the work is captured in Hana S. Kim's lovely frightening and complex video and projection design. I hope this isn't left in San Francisco or Eric Southern's set and lighting design or even Sara Huddleston's sound design. I am almost tempted to attend to see how much more our imaginations are required to work (smile).

At Laney Saturday afternoon there will be an audience talkback with the Actors. Lake Merritt BART is across the street about 250 ft from Laney College Theatre.  The Oakland Museum of CA is also across the street.  There is metered parking on the street bring quarters and/or a credit card or park in Oakland Museum parking lot. Visit http://magictheatre.org/about/oakland


August Wilson's Fences at Marin Theatre
Company through May 11, 2014

Carl Lumbly embodies in his Troy a man conflicted, scarred, yet hopeful, as he keeps reinventing himself without a mirror reflection. There seems to be a man inside his skin quietly bursting at his seams, which he guards closely, or so he thinks. Like the shadowy figure Carl Jung references in his voluminous work on consciousness, specifically the unconscious, Sherry Salman in her essay, "The creative psyche: Jung's major contributions" (ed. P. Young-Eisendrath; T. Dawson 1997) says often what is within psychic reach is a "contradictory opposite" (p. 66-67).  It is what is ignored or suppressed.

"The struggle [Troy experiences, which eventually tears him apart] is part of the difficult individuation process [the character's acceptance of his strengths and weaknesses and how this plays into his human statement in the world of ideas and consciousness; it is a marriage of the two, Troy's unconsciousness and consciousness or perimeters of his psychic terrain in the yard, at home, on the job and beyond (p.316-317)]." Salman says, "this process strives not for perfection, but for wholeness. The 'opposites within' are related to both willingness and conscience; adaptation to the collective culture is not the ultimate goal" (p. 67). Troy says, he just wants to be happy, to laugh and forget the burdens that often seem oppressive and stifling.

And so we watch as he literally wrestles bodily with these demons that sometimes pin him down and lay claim to his life. Lumbly brings physicality to the work which externalizes this battle. We are not certain who will win, but Lumbly's Troy is a fit opponent. Wilson's Troy though he embraces and assimilates his psychic opposites, "the shadow and other unconscious material,' it is never a surrender of his autonomy rather an acknowledgement of the "wisdom of the wholeness of life and a [grudging] acceptance and love of [his] fate. We watch him over the course of the play [metaphysically] 'dissolve and coagulate' [again and again]" (p. Salman 68).

Troy calls his shadow "Blue," a good hound dog. In a song he sings, a refrain or overture in the work; Ole Blue teaches to Troy’s children the lesson of overcoming. Troy carries this memory from his father— all the goodness he has left of home except his brother Gabriel. Images hold within themselves a healing force and Ole Blue gives Troy a way to articulate reality as he experiences it (Salman 68). “You have to take the crooked with the straight,” he tells him kids, he says to himself as he tries to hit a home run off a curve ball.

When we meet Troy he is coming home after a week on the job picking up garbage. He has a fifth in his pocket which he shares with his buddy, Bono (Steven Anthony Jones). The two men talk about the job, their wives and Troy's relationship with the character Death. Jones's character brings out a side of Lumbly's Troy absent when Troy speaks to his sons and to his wife. There is a comfort in their fraternity Troy does not share with his family to his detriment when they are all he has left.


Those Fridays with Bono anchor Troy's soul. It is here that the masterful performance shifts into a space where ritual and magic occur. There is an archangel in the play, injured in the war, Troy's brother Gabriel (actor Adrian Roberts). Gabriel loves Troy and tries to protect him, to sound heaven's alarm when danger is near, and to use his sixth sense for recognizing Hell-hounds. Roberts calls Gabriel a shaman or priest, a holy man. Stooped and a bit weary, Gabriel sells fruit, lives in the basement of a neighbor's house which embarrasses Troy who feels responsible to Gabriel.


In the front of the house sits a tree. We see Troy sit at its roots and pour libations there toward the end of the play when he drinks alone, Bono gone. Imposing like Troy is to his family— Troy fills the house and the lives of his wife and kids just as the tree fills the yard—its limb sticking out like a hand asking for alms. Troy says when trying to explain his feelings to his wife, Rose, that when he comes home from work on payday, everyone is lined up on the porch with their hands out to him.
He never leaves them empty for long.


Troy keeps a string with a ball of twine attached to the tree limb (snug in a gnarled hole) which he takes out and swings his bat.  Troy played on the Negro League teams with famous ball players like Satchel Paige— he is bitter that he wasn't drafted into the major leagues like Jackie Robinson whom he scoffs at as he says he could hit rings around.


Prison (enslavement) is why Troy wasn't able to compete when he returned to society; at 40 he was too old. Unperturbed in this instance and others, Troy has a way of shaping the world so that it makes sense to him. We might call him a hero. He survived. He is a man who takes risks, often getting knocked down, yet he recovers and gets back up again.

Troy's ability to trek back through and beyond his childhood conflicts and trauma is evidence of his healing journey (Salman p. 64). In Troy Wilson shows how dramatic and invasive childhood trauma is; how it grabs one spiritually in a vise only death can relinquish. Troy tries to put as much psychic and physical distance between himself and his father and the brutality he experienced in his father's house, yet he carries this within him—he is his father.

Like the elder Maxson, Troy also commits great wrongs, and like his dad, regret and remorse don't have a place in his universe— he doesn't have time to back track. The absence of retrospection limits his mobility, stays his hand once Cory is born, yet frees him once Rose stands up to him. "It is his "psyche's self-regulating mechanism; regression and introspection are not only potentially adaptive [here] but the sine qua non of healing. . . (Salman p. 64 quoting Jung).

He tells stories about death--wrestling with it and winning. He describes it as wearing a white sheet with a pointed cap— It is always near like the tree in proximity to the house— there is nothing there to keep it out and the fence project . . . continues unfinished for most of the play.  (The tree also reminds one of those that bore strange fruit--the pointed hat reference to the KKK).

There is an underlying element of terror in Troy's life that never quite leaves him feeling safe. He is a man who lives by the rules of the game. He calls it baseball, but though he practiced and was a champion, he wasn't allowed to play when his world dissolved and was reconstituted without him.

Troy's brother Gabriel keeps Death at bay with his constant policing of the Hell hounds. The elder brother carries a bugle attached to his belt. He brings Rose flowers and has a good word for Lyons, Troy's elder son, who is a musician. Injured in the war, Gabriel lives alone but visits often. He is a bit eccentric and people make fun of him, especially when he speaks of heaven and his conversations with Saint Peter about his brother Troy.

Margo Hall's Rose is the quiet strength of the work. In this character Wilson composed a woman whom quietly loves her man to death. She trusts him, yet he doesn't need trust, he needs her to be the ball he keeps trying to hit out of the yard. He is trapped, and she doesn't know it until it is too late. In Hall's Rose we see a love bigger than betrayal. It is amazing, yet cautionary. We can only wonder how she will raise Raynell, Troy's daughter (actress Makaelah Bashir).

Bono (Steven Anthony Jones), Troy's best friend, rounds out a world filled with work and family responsibilities. Troy seems determined to do better than his father, be a better man. There is not much softness in Troy; he tries to at least make space for his family, yet the rocky surface he calls love makes it hard to remain. There isn't much laughter at home and one doesn't see Rose or her son with friends. Bono is the only visitor.

Cut off – one wonders about the absence of friends. Rose seems to be at home alone a lot. She seems to always be waiting for Troy to return. She has willingly surrendered her life to him. Cory, their son (excellently performed by actor Eddie Ray Jackson), does so unwillingly. Troy is bright and challenges injustice. His wins set him apart from his friends whom he misses. There is just one moment in the play where we see him lose his composure and become violent. It's the unraveling of everything he tried to keep together— nothing is ever the same again.

However, his unraveling actually frees his family— the god, Troy, as in Trojan, no longer looms over them, blocking the sunshine. Rose admits to Cory when he is an adult that his father didn't ask her to give over her dreams when she met him. This was her contribution to the union, a lesson she learned dearly— Lambs are roasted and consumed, not kept as house pets.

Wilson's Fences also shows how even if a fence is supposed to hold what one values within its boundaries, the world has a way of intruding. Troy tried to deny progress and change, despite living under a roof with evidence to the contrary— Cory, his son, who would have made him proud if Troy had dismantled the fencing around his mind and heart.

Troy speaks of Rose and their eighteen years together— he admits she saves him when the draft doesn't pick up for the team; however, he needs to save himself. His frequent encounters with death are just a fence he needs to climb over or dismantle. Similarly racial discrimination on the job and his wounded brother Gabriel are all fences.

Fences is the story of a man and a family post-emancipation trying to be free, but erecting fencing around themselves which keep each of them from touching each other genuinely. The edifices between each of them—Troy and Rose, Troy and Cory, Troy and Lyons—bar such interactions.

Tyee Tilghman's portrays Lyons, Troy's first son conceived when he was young and poor. When Troy comes back into his firstborn's life after prison, Lyons is almost grown he tells us when we meet him as an adult. His father doesn't approve of his artistic career. Lyons is a musician, and like his Uncle Gabriel, he also plays a horn.

Gabriel greets his nephew, "Lyons, King of the jungle"— and growls with a clawing motion. The two laugh. Troy is surrounded by lions and angels, perhaps this is why though he falters he is able to get up? Lyons loves his dad, even when every word Troy speaks to and about him is negative. Lyons still visits his father's house nonetheless. Unlike Cory, Lyons wants fathering. He misses those years when he had to figure out what it meant to be a man and the fences, once again, prevent Troy from embracing his son, Lyons's, longing for absolution and closure. 

The way Carl Lumbly portrays Troy is as a heroic man without heart. Troy tries to stir it with Bono, his prison buddy and now coworker at the garbage company. We see his amorous advances towards Rose and his attempt to stir sweetness in their bed. Lastly there is his son, Cory, whom he has big plans for. Cory is his hope for the future, but fenced in by his own traumatic experience with a father whose love was brutality, Troy misses an opportunity for happiness at home with his wife and son.

The fencing he is building around the house, which is a task that isn't completed until almost the end of the play is perhaps resisted, because it is a further indication of the trapped emotions and feelings Troy is victim to. Why can't he tell his son he loves him? Why can't he go to his son Lyons's gig at the club? Is there a reason why no one visits? What is it about Troy that is so intense and so hard that he acts as his own barrier to the warmth and happiness he tells Rose he craves? How does he or where does he find access to these spaces where air nor light seem to permeate?

Every time I see this play Fences, I think about it differently. In the Lower Bottom Playas's production, directed by Dr. Ayodele Nzinga last year at the African American Museum and Library, Oakland, I was drawn to the ceremony and ritual. In this production, at Marin Theatre Company, directed by Derrick Sanders with a fantastic original musical score composed by Chris Houston with kudos to design teammates: Will McCandless, sound; J.B. Wilson, scenic; Christine Crook, costume; Kurt Landisman, lighting (especially when Gabriel opens heaven's gates for Troy);  I am drawn to the barriers or fences. Troy is caged and his eventual emancipation injures all involved. Is his freedom worth it or was Troy better off a slave?

In August Wilson's Fences, directed by Sanders at MTC, 397 Miller Avenue, in Mill Valley, the answer depends on whom you ask (smile). Tickets are $20 (all shows) for patrons under 30 years old, with identification. For information call: 415.388.5208 or email: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

To learn more about the show and other Fences related events visit:  http://marintheatre.org/productions/schedule-and-prices/fences/

Related Events
April 17, there is a free August Wilson’s "Fences" Talk @ 1:00 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California St., San Francisco.

April 24, Perspectives | Matinee only (show at 1pm, pre-show talk at noon) A topical speaker (TBA) will offer insights into the play. Bring your bag lunch. Coffee; cookies will be served.

Apr. 28, August Wilson’s "Fences" Talk @ 7 p.m. at Book Passage Marin, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera.

Most Shows feature an After Words post-show Q&As with a member of MTC’s artistic staff (often with one or more members of the cast) after every performance, except on Saturday evenings, and Opening and Closing Nights.

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, Friday, April 11, 2014 (Rebroadcast Friday, April 18, 2014)

Dan Hoyle joins us to talk about his new play, written in collaboration with Tony Taccone, Game On, directed by Rick Lombardo, at San Jose Rep through April 19, 2014. https://www.sjrep.com/

Bonnie Boswell
joins us via the archives (2012) to talk about The Power Broker: Whitney Young's Fight for Civil Rights http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/powerbroker/

Carl Lumbly
joins us to talk about August Wilson's Fences, directed by Derrick Sanders which opens at Marin Theatre Company April 10, tonight and continues through May 11 (after multiple extensions). www.marintheatre.org 415-388-5208

We close with a conversation about opera and musical theatre with Dr. Lynne Morrow, Musical Director, Oakland Symphony Chorus, conducting Handel's Messiah, this weekend, April 13, 2014, 5:30 p.m.at Cathedral of Christ The Light, Oakland oaklandsymphonychorus.org; joining her are Kelly Gregg (producer) and Sammi Cannold (director) of the Immersive Production of Les Miserables at Stanford University, April 11-12; 17-19 8 p.m. in the University's Memorial Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. http://musical.stanford.edu/tickets.html


Music: Anthony Brown's AfroAsian Orchestra's Afro Blue;  Abraham Burton's Nebulai.

Visit:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks/2014/04/11/wandas-picks-radio-showdrlynn-morrow-conductshandels-oebs-choruss-messiah


The Trials of Muhammad Ali, director, Bill Siegel, on Independent Lens, Monday, April 14, 2014

Bill Siegel's Trials of Muhammad Ali shows an evolution of consciousness rarely if ever seen when looking at an iconic figure, in this case the greatest boxer of the twentieth century Muhammad Ali. In this story of Ali, Siegel crafts a tale that without preconception allows his audience an opportunity to enter the Nation of Islam Ali as Cassius Clay did. We meet the influential men in young Ali's life, his financial supporters -- a Louisville, Kentucky powerhouse and a spiritual support network under the leadership of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. With candid interviews with NOI leader Minister Louis Farrakhan, Ali's older brother, Rahman, his former first wife, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, his daughter by a later marriage, and others including much of Ali via archival newsreel, we see a very different picture of Ali emerge.

Sharp and on point within and without the ring, Ali as a youth is impressionable and smart--his relationship with his first wife, who though younger, gave him excellent guidance which Ali listened to. These are some of the more poignant parts of the film. I love the courtship and genuine love between the couple and that of his brother, Malcolm X, and admiration of others including the Elijah Muhammad.

Ali's trials start long before the one that strips him of his title--it starts when he changes his name and joins the NOI, when he decides to take the less traveled path, the one where he is his own man--a free thinker, independent. The media doesn't like his choice and later he is made to pay -- financially and morally when he refuses to go to war. The slander is unbelievable. I wonder if such would be allowed today.

Farrakhan says Ali's says to him, "Still a N-gger," today, at the height of his career and reputation. What does he mean?

Ali's decision to be a conscientious objector is a choice Martin King supports despite religious differences. This is an important point, because it shows that the division imposed philosophically between Malcolm X and Martin King was just that, an imposition which had no reality. It was more a divide and conquer tactic by the enemy of peace and justice. The way the scene is set up here, King's killing seems directly linked to his position on the unjust war.

The suffering this court ordered refusal to allow Ali to box and Ali's move into public speaking and worldwide travel is a very interesting part of the film as is the court's final decision about whether Ali would be sent to prison or the case dismissed. We see Ali grow or mature into his public persona as he engages college students at home and heads of governments abroad.

We have all heard about Ali's refusal to go to Vietnam. I hadn't realized that his leader, the Hon. Elijah Muhammad had also been a conscientious objector. I also hadn't known that Ali's life was threatened, his house set on fire the same day as Malcolm X's assassination.

Through it all, Ali is as witty and quick thinking in response to propaganda and prejudicial attacks as he is to physical  blows in the ring. It  is magical to listen and watch. The scenes of Ali in the ring, ending matches in the first round, second, third--he is skillful, I'd think, as he taunted his opponent jabbing him wearing him down before knocking him out. From the1960 Gold Medal Olympic championship fight, light heavyweight division, between Ali (US) then 18, against Zigzy Pietrzykowski (Poland), on, controversy seemed to follow the charismatic athlete.

There is a great scene in Trials with another Olympian, gold medalist, Tommie Smith who along with bronze medalist John Carlos raised his fist (for Ali). Smith says the gesture was for Ali. This was in 1968, a year after Ali's petition for amnesty was denied. Carlos, Smith and Austrian silver medalist Peter Norman all wore Olympic Project for Human Rights badges and all were ostracized when they returned home, for this political stance, just as Ali was when he refused to go to war. Veteran athletes Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis didn't agree with Ali's position on the war either, while Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad didn't agree with each other, but both supported Ali.

Who knew? I certainly didn't. Smith speaks candidly about this time in the film. I found the calculated symbolism in this moment, amazing.

"After the race was completed, the three went to the podium for their medals to be presented by David Cecil, 6th Marquess of Exeter. The two U.S. athletes received their medals shoeless, but wearing black socks, to represent black poverty. Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride, Carlos had his tracksuit top unzipped to show solidarity with all blue collar workers in the U.S. and wore a necklace of beads which he described "were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage.' All three athletes wore Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) badges after Norman, a critic of Australia's White Australia Policy, expressed empathy with their ideals.Sociologist Harry Edwards, [UC Berkeley] the founder of the OPHR, had urged black athletes to boycott the games; reportedly, the actions of Smith and Carlos on 16 October 1968[2] were inspired by Edwards' arguments" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1968_Olympics_Black_Power_salute).

Muhammad Ali was a force. He still is now as his legacy inspires others worldwide to stand for what they believe and resist the tendency to compromise their beliefs even when the consequences are frequently unbearable.

The film is screening at the Rafael Film Center, April 21, 2014. To find out more about the film, visit: http://thetrialsofali.com/see.html

http://www.kartemquin.com/sites/default/files/films/presskits/TRIALSOFMUHAMMADALI_KinoLorberPresskit.pdf

 

 

 

 


 

Last Updated ( Friday, 18 April 2014 )
 
Wanda's Picks March 2014
Written by Wanda Sabir   
Friday, 28 February 2014
Russell Maroon Shoatz is out of solitary confinement! Hugo Pinnell had his first contact visit in 40 years last weekend. Kiluu Nyasha announced this wonderful news at a reception following the second Public Hearing on Solitary Confinement called by Rep. Tom Ammiano, February 16, 2014. Robert H. King, Free Angola 3, was also in San Francisco that week along with representatives from Amnesty International, England office and Teenie Miller the widow of slain 23-year old Angola prison guard Brent Miller whom Herman Wallace (A3) was accused of killing (1974). She has denounced the accusation publicly and was in conversation with Robert King about this, freeing Albert Woodfox (A3) and justice Louisiana State-style (Feb. 26, 2014). See http://solitarywatch.com/tag/tom-ammiano/


Is Orange the New Black? Who are California Women Prisoners?

Congratulations to California Coalition for Women Prisoners and Justice Now for a wonderful inspiring and heart rending program with phenomenal panelists, among them Misty Rojo and Piper Kerman, “Is Orange the New Black: A Conversation about California Women Prisoners.” The Humanist Hall was full to capacity as women on stage and via recorded interviews and others in the audience (many recently released after 10-15-20+ years) spoke of their experiences behind the bars in California’s prisons. One panelist, whom I’d met at Valley State prison, was incarcerated as a teen, now 35, she was released just a month or so earlier. I met many women and (a man) in the audience, who were also recently emancipated. Moderated by Shanelle Matthews, ACLU Northern California, the women spoke of imprisonments effect on family stability, health, both mental and physical and how despite this mistreatment and attempt to break their spirits they kept rising. Visit www.womenprisoners.org 

Event for CCWP

Cuntained: A Dance Party Extravaganza Benefiting California Coalition for Woman Prisoners, March 15th, 3-8pm at El Rio, 3158 Mission St, San Francisco, $5-100 sliding scale

Salute to Amiri Baraka 

It is a traditional African belief that one has never died until there are none among the living to remember them. Sunday March 2nd at 7 p.m. at The Emerald Tablet, 80 Fresno St, San Francisco, is a very special tribute to the great Amiri Baraka featuring an unforgettable ensemble of poets and musicians that includes five of San Francisco’s six poets laureate.  

The event is free with delicious complimentary food. Featured musicians include Nic Bearde (Jazz vocals), George Long (saxophone), Destiny Muhammad (harp/vocals), Colin O’Leary (guitar/vocals), Jorge Molina (traditional instrument/vocals), and Keenan Webster (Kora).
Poets include Dee Allen, Mahnaz Bahidian, Lincoln Bergman, Charlels Curtis Blackwell, Neeli Cherkovski, Boadiba, Diane Di Prima, Agneta Falk, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Maketa Groves-Smith, Gary Hicks, Jack Hirschman, devorah major, Karen Melander Magoon, D. Scott Miller, David Meltzer, Alejandro Murguia, Dottie Payne, Ramu, Kevin Simmonds, and Michael Warr.This event is sponsored by ArtInternationale! Art Lounge, The Emerald Tablet, and The evolutionary Poets Brigade.

Black Arts Movement Conference Feb. 28-March 2

Also March 1-2 weekend (beginning Feb. 28 at a free reception) is the historic convening of a who’s who among Black Art Movement poets and artists, at UC Merced. Register at https://www.facebook.com/events/206503536195057


International Day in Solidarity with the Haitian People
Haiti Action Event

Commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 2004 coup, celebrate Haiti's revolution, Saturday, March 1st - 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Humanist Hall, 390-27th Street, in Oakland. The featured speaker is Paulette Joseph, Coordinator of the grassroots women's organization "Oganizasyon Fanm Vanyan." OFAV was founded in 1996 and has been active in the struggle for women's rights, democracy and justice in Haiti. Vanyan in Creole means someone of principle, conviction, brave, strong above all of moral character, steadfast in struggle.
There will also be eyewitness reports, drums, film, food, music Visit  www.haitisolidarity.net 

Dance
10th Anniversary of the Black Choreographers Festival Here and Now


Black Choreographers Festival Here and Now continues at Laney College and ODC in San Francisco 8 p.m. (Reception Saturday begins at 7 p.m.)  Congratulations to Kimara on his new book, a collection of photos of BCF (smile). Also congrats to all the awardees at the BCF Awards night, March 1 at Laney College, 900 Fallon Street. Visit http://www.bcfhereandnow.com/
Theatre

Marcus Gardley’s The House that Will Not Stand at Berkeley Rep through March 23

Freedom is on black folks’ minds throughout the Western Diaspora.  Locally, Oakland born, nationally acclaimed playwright, Marcus Gardley’s returns with another episode in the Black Diaspora saga. He takes us to New Orleans, not long after the Louisiana purchase and the impact of this economic move on the politics of a household where Madam Beatrice (actress Lizan Mitchell) –free woman of color holds court in her master’s house, Lazare (actor Ray Reinhardt) whom we meet when we enter the parlor, I mean theatre. 

Did I say free? Well, freedom is a product that one constantly has to negotiate the terms in 1836. The terms were often bondage, a kind of sexual servitude with perks like inheritance or a benefits package prearranged. Called plaçage, these common law marriages were recognized as legal agreements under French law; however, when Thomas Jefferson purchased Louisiana at sale price, the deal connected to France’s need to liquidate—France losing its war against enslaved Africans in Haiti under the leadership of Generals Jean Jacques Dessalines, Toussaint Louverture, Henri Christophe and Alexandre Sabès Pétion. 

Thereafter, the law changed, and with it the power welded by African American women with such status. Elegant Madam Beatrice wants her three beautiful daughters to be free. This idea is contested by her master, who does not agree, neither do her daughters who only know servitude, the type they have been reared to accept. They don’t understand that they are really as much enslaved as Makeda, (Harriett D. Foy) who is working steadily towards a day when she will be free— a colorful and delightful character, she is about as focused as Madam and will not let anything or anyone dead or alive keep her from her goal—

In “The House That Will Not Stand” this family of free women is juxtaposed against that of an enslaved woman, and Madam Beatrice’s sister, Marie Josephine (actress Petronia Paley) who is kept locked up, because she keeps trying to escape to go to Congo Square to dance to the rhythms of a blue black drummer who has won her heart, a heart (when we meet her) she lost as a young girl.  

Standing with a foot on both sides of the crossroads, Makeda loves the girls whom she helped raise and their mother whose plight she understands. “The House That Will Not Stand” is a metaphor, as are many elements in this play which is beautiful to the eyes—costumes, set, as it is on the ears, original music—to the story which is not neatly packaged at the end and keeps one wondering.  Skin color is as much an issue in this household as it is today. The three girls are all different hues –Agnès and Maude Lynn lighter complexioned than their sister Odette, who doesn’t notice this until she and her big sister become rivals. The three actresses, Joniece Abbott-Pratt as “Odette,” Flor De Liz Perez as “Maude Lynn,” and Tiffany Rachelle Stewart as “Agnès,” whose portraits hang on the living room wall before we see the actual visions of loveliness approach from church with their mother singing, bring the reality of the impossible situation to us as they wrestle first with this father’s death, then with their mother’s unreasonable idea that they not go to the ball where eligible white men make bids on suitable black girls.

Directed by Patricia McGregor, one wonders what kind of world exists where slavery is preferred over freedom, where love is the first casualty when offered little choice for happiness? Bitterness fills the mouth of Beatrice who tries unsuccessfully to manage with dignity the fates of her girls; it litters the floor, falls from the magnolia tree, falls from the sky. What kind of world exists where one assumes bondage is preferred to freedom? Caught, must Beatrice’s girls surrender or are there unexplored options? I had a great interview with the elder women in the cast—look for the broadcast late February, early March on Wanda’s Picks Radio. At that time I learned that the play has been extended to March 23, 2014 with performances Tuesdays-Sundays, at the Berkeley Repertory TheatreThrust Stage, 2025 Addison Street @ Shattuck, Berkeley, CA 94704. For tickets and information: (510) 647-2949 and www.berkeleyrep.org Half price tickets available for anyone under 30 years of age; $10 discount for students and seniors one hour before curtain.

Love Don’t Hurt

Love shouldn’t hurt, but often in dysfunctional circumstances or power relationships like slavery and neocolonialism what masquerades as love destroys. Oakland is the epicenter for sexual trafficking and at a powerful community event at the East Oakland Youth Development Center, last month entitled: “Love Don’t Hurt,” a community panel and discussion which featured Regina Evan’s powerful Best of Bay Area Fringe 2013 Award-winning play about sex-trafficking “52 Letters,” and panelists who were victims now emancipated as well as young abolitionists, Oakland City Attorney and an Oakland Public School psychologist. The program sponsored by EOYDC, Love Never Fails, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and Oakland Public Schools also had a panel following the play moderated by Vanessa Scott, director of Love Never Fails. The discussion was informative, passionate and horrifying as we learned first hand from the trafficked and abolitionists what is sexual trafficking is, what can be done to both prevent child sexual trafficking and how to join the freedom movement. 

Art
Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles at UC Berkeley Art Museum February-April 2014

Barbara Chase Riboud’s Malcolm X steles grace the galleries at the University Art Museum, one of several exhibitions which close this edifice until the new museum opens at a later date. Her reception February evening was like an old homecoming, the who’s who at the talk and reception afterward with Mildred Howard, Arthur Monroe, Neshormeh Lindo, Raymond Saunders, Hubert Collins, and many others, including the founding curator of UCBAM who commissioned Chase-Riboud so many years ago.

What is striking about the art and artistry of Barbara Chase-Riboud, equally well known for her figurative sculpture Africa Rising (1998) which marks the sacred African Burial Ground National Monument site in Lower Manhattan as for her poetry and prose, is the subtle elegance of the petite woman whose visage belies the 40 years she has been making or creating art. The Malcolm X Steles exhibition, (the series created between 1969-2008), Chase-Riboud’s first exhibition in ten years closes the curtain on an institution experiencing a makeover soon to be unveiled. 

In her 1973 solo exhibition BAM/PFA’s founding director Peter Selz commissioned the work Confessions for Myself (1972) from the BAM/PFA collection that introduced Chase-Riboud’s fine art to the West Coast.  It is amazing, yet not amazing considering UC Berkeley’s radical and politicized history that Malcolm X Steles or monuments would conclude this phase of the BAM journey. 

The steles represent lives –the lives of public servants and stateswo(men) and artists, who Chase-Riboud lifts literally in work which combine seemingly incompatible elements—silk and bronze. She works big, the braided cord skirts are hand stitched or woven then attached to the metal bodies – the process is one of philosophical reinvention. The metal pieces varies from warm red to bronze and black; the skirts red, tan and black.  

Drawings and sketches are also a part of the exhibition, many of these portraits include stories one cannot always decipher (smile). It’s a good thing there is a wonderful catalog available. In reading about her life and listening to her speak, I learned that not only did the artist participate in the First Edition of the World Festival of Black Art and Culture, where she met presiding Negritude founding member, President Léopold Sédar Senghor, poet and statesman (1960-80), after she left Senegal, Chase-Riboud also attended the Pan African Festival in Algeria where she met Eldridge and Kathleen Cleaver and other BPP members; a friend of the Party, I can understand better the warm embrace she shared with Sister Elaine Brown that evening, whom she knew well from Ms. Brown’s sojourn in Paris, France (Chase-Riboud’s home for many years). 

(Sister Elaine Brown is everywhere. I saw her recently at the protest against police brutality and Kamala Harris, California District Attorney, mandate to stop, “killer cops.” Ms. Brown spoke and marched with family and friends. Just a week or so before that, I saw her at a policy breakfast called by Supervisor Carson at Geoffrey’s in Oakland). 

Chase-Riboud’s books are sojourns into a Pan African past—where thankfully she is calling names and marking important moments in our collective histories. Chase-Riboud’s art takes us along aesthetically across multiple landscapes and provinces from her first experience at eighteen or nineteen lost in Cairo, Egypt to her state’s dinner with Chairman Mao (1965) –the first American to do so, to her literary career launched, with From Memphis to Peking, by friend and at that time editor, Toni Morrison in 1974.  

Her mastery of the classics begins with Kemet or Egypt and her experiences there remain one of her biggest influences as she trekked the world— doing comparative artistic study, finding everything else—Rome, Greece . . . except perhaps China (smile) paling in comparison. 

“The [artist's] travels to Africa and Asia influenced not only her literary career but also her works of art. Her sculptures are a combination of geometric bronze forms and braided silk fibers.Her best-known 1970s sculptures also reflect African Masks. For example her 1972 freestanding sculpture Confessions for myself was made of black bronze and black wool. The hanging braids and fibrous stands allude to the supernatural, the rites and magic of Africa, and other non-Western realities. In parallel, during the same year, she wrote the poem, ‘Soledad,’” Charles Henry Hall writes on the blog Black World History. This is the year on March 27 the two surviving Soledad Brothers— Fleeta Drumgoole and John Clutchette —were acquitted by a San Francisco jury of the original charges of murdering a prison guard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soledad_Brothers). 

An only child born into a middle class African American family in Philadelphia. Her father, Charles Edward Chase, a contractor, and her mother Vivian May West, a medical technician, this precocious and talented child was taking dance lessons, playing the piano and writing poetry before ten.  Hers was a life, is a life of “yes” – “Yes this is possible.” “Yes, you can do this, if you are disciplined and exhibit mastery and creativity.” And in this encouraging environment, Chase-Riboud excelled.  

This thoughtful woman spoke that evening February 11, with Lawrence Rinder her distinctive use and choice of materials, and how her visual art practice aligns ideas of monument with memory. What I loved about her work and person is the intentional nature of her life; nothing is left to chance and she doesn’t mind being the only women or only black woman at the party (smile).  Chase-Riboud captures in her person what it means to be a Diaspora citizen. 

Born in this nation’s first capital, Philadelphia, her historic novels, Sally Hemings (1979) and Echo of Lions (1989) both characterized by lawsuits.  In the first, the Jefferson’s, the white Jefferson’s did not want to be associated with their black relatives— this work “earned Chase-Riboud the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for the best novel written by an American woman and sold more than one million copies in hardcover” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Chase-Riboud).  It took from 1979 to 2001 for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello and the National Genealogical Society to announce their conclusions that Jefferson had in fact fathers Hemings’s children. “Chase-Riboud having been the catalyst in changing Jeffersonian scholarship forever” (ibid). 

Chase-Riboud, sued DreamWorks for using her book Echo of Lions (1989) as the basis of the screenplay for its film Amistad. DreamWorks’s argument was the since the novel is based in historic fact, which no one owns the rights to, Chase-Riboud could not own the rights to her work. Not only did she get a satisfactory settlement in 1991, Granville Burgess vs. Chase-Riboud.  This copyright decision is an important one that now safeguards one’s rights to creative work based on historic fact. 

“Judge Robert F. Kelly concluded that while ‘laws were not enacted to inhibit creativity . . . it is one thing to inhibit creativity and another to use the idea-versus-expression distinction as something akin to an absolute defense -- to maintain that the protection of copyright law is negated by any small amount of tinkering with another writer's idea that results in a different expression’” (ibid). 

The resulting decision constituted a significant victory for artists and writers, reinforcing protection for creative ideas even when expressed in a slightly different form. Other historic works include Hottentot Venus (2003) completed after France in 2002 finally released Sara Baartman’s remains to South Africa where she was buried nearly 200 years after her birth, August 9, 2002.

Chase-Riboud is known internationally probably because whether it is her sculpture or writing, fiction or poetry, one can find residual elements of her expansive personal landscape on her philosophical or practical walking shoes (smile). 

Look for an expanded piece on her visit in a later article (smile).

Action Alert! New York’s First Slave Market Signage 

The Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations will hold a hearing on Int. No. 36- A Local Law in relation to requiring the placement of an informational sign near the intersection of Wall and Water Streets in Manhattan to mark the site of New York’s first slave market on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall. For those who plan to attend contact Tai Meah, Legislative Attorney, New York City Council, Tel: 212.788.9063, Fax: 212.788.9112 or email: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

Morehouse College President, Dr. John Silvanus Wilson Jr. speaks on the “Cradle to Prison Pipeline”
Freedom continues as a theme when one looks at the tenure of Morehouse College’s 11th president whom I had a great conversation with, alumnus Dr. John Silvanus Wilson Jr. Of all the Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Morehouse is one that has a visibly long history of excellence. When I think about HBCUs, Howard University comes to mind because this is where DJ Spooky’s, composer of Birth of Nation Remix— mother taught (smile). This is also where Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) became politicized. I also think about its medical center and the cutting edge work of its physicians there around HIV/AIDS research and care, not to mention the researcher whose work on black DNA became what is now African Ancestry. Florida A&M is dear to my heart because of a wonderful conference I attended on the Hip Hop Nation, an example of a bloodless global coup. I know Dillard University in New Orleans because it has an English Language exchange program for school teachers in Brazil developed by my friend Dr. Kimya Dawson-Smith, Xavier (also in New Orleans) because Paradise Free Ja Love (a.k.a. Richard Moore) who just celebrated an important birthday—Happy 60th!, played basketball there and my sister attended the institution for short while. I know Spelman because of the sisters who held a rap artist’s heels to the fire who’d dare denigrate black women and expect praise. Alice Walker, while a student, met her friend and teacher the late Howard Zinn there; Wiley College for the great debate team which became the subject of a film directed by Denzel Washington. I know Lincoln University in Philadelphia because Gil Scott Heron attended there, as did Langston Hughes, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe.  
But there is something about Morehouse—maybe it’s David Roach or his Mo’Bettas Foods, who represents his alma mater well here in the Oakland-San Francisco Bay that make me think so favorably about this institution (smile). 

Dr. Wilson, class of ’79, is certainly of a caliber of man fitting of this institution that boasts much success in its graduates.  From Philadelphia, the child of parents who also attended HBCUs, the president knew from an early age the power of an educated populace, especially black men.

While listening to his inaugural address in Atlanta, February 14, 2014, and reading it more closely, I was impressed by his attention to our tradition of calling on the ancestors, and his respect for women’s leadership later when he acknowledged his grandmother and mother for their guidance and foresight prepared him to step into his current role once it became available. His impressive track record (beginning in 1985) speaks to his ability to develop capital for institutions he is connected to such as MIT, where over a 16 year tenure he managed two record-breaking capital campaigns with combined results approaching $3 billion  (https://www.morehouse.edu/about/presidentfranklin/presidentsbio.htm ) 

While at MIT, Dr. Wilson was also president of the “Greater Boston Morehouse College Alumni Association (GBMCAA) which raised more than $1 million in support of scholarships and community outreach” (https://www.morehouse.edu). Before he left there to take an appointment at George Washington University for eight years, as executive dean of the university’s Virginia campus and associate professor of higher education, he was given Morehouse College’s Benjamin Elijah Mays Leadership Award in 1998. The GBMCAA also established the John Wilson Leadership Award to recognize current Morehouse students who exhibit similar transformative leadership qualities (https://www.morehouse.edu). So when Dr. Wilson called in his talk February 14 for a shift in thinking from poverty to wealth, from making do to doing a whole lot better, this was no idle chatter. 

In a phone interview a week after his historic speech, we spoke on an equally historic day, that of Malcolm X’s killing. Though we did not speak of this fact directly, we did talk about how apathy and low expectations make the cradle to prison pipeline trajectory for young black men acceptable. Since when is it a sign of relief when 65-70 percent high school dropout rate is a norm we can live with? He called on this “nation to commit itself to achieving his and President Obama’s goal of making a cradle-to-power pipeline real for black men.”

As President Obama’s point person on HBCUs, he helped craft the new legislation unveiled Feb. 27 connected to subsequent symposiums to be held around the country, one in Oakland at Laney College. Dr. Ortiz, Chancellor of Peralta Community Colleges said at the “State the District Meeting,” this spring, that our charge is to help African American men and Latino men complete their education, which means transfer and graduate. Right now the numbers are very low for both populations. 

Dr. Wilson began his tenure as the 11th president of an institution where its namesake coined the term “talented tenth,” though Dr. W.E.B. DuBois popularized it. Morehouse College president’s sound plans are couched in a vision that seeks to develop Morehouse Men from the inside out. Dr. Wilson wants the Morehouse model set by its students and alumni and staff to be a model of what it means to be a man imitated throughout the nation regardless of that man’s race.  

With degrees in Liberal Arts from Morehouse and one’s in Theology, Education Administration and Policy from Harvard, January 2013 when Dr. Wilson took office it was a seminal year for black America—the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In his February 2014 speech he reflected on freedom and imagination. 
2013 was also the year the film “12 Years a Slave” was released, Samuel Northup’s story. Not politicized until sold into a system he hadn’t questioned until he experienced it first hand, any unexamined life could produce similar ambivalence to national events as long as such atrocities do not cast shadows across our doorsteps—

Not on Dr. Wilson’s watch though, he is a man whom as a student voiced his displeasure with campus policies in a weekly column which echoed Dr. Mays’s book by similar title Disturbed about Man, became the young Wilson’s column, “Disturbed about Morehouse.” As an undergraduate told Dr. Mays, then president when asked that he loved Morehouse, but didn’t like everything about its policies and operation. 
He quotes Dr. Howard Thurman, also a Morehouse man, yes, I know—impressive (smile), who spoke of “progress as recovery,” recovery of a self one might not be proud of because one doesn’t know who he is. Dr. Wilson has been having students read certain books, character shaping material like Ayi Kwi Armah’s The Beautiful Ones Are Not yet Born and more recently, “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson. 

Dr. Wilson states: “One of the best things about this Morehouse experience has been our ability to help our students to answer that precious question at the heart of all education and all theology: Who am I? 

“For years, at the center of our campus pedagogy has been the belief that the journey to a noteworthy, call-answered life starts with an authentic answer to that question. Who am I? Like few other institutions, Morehouse has understood that somewhere in each man's answer must be what Howard Thurman called "the sound of the genuine." 

“Thurman said everyone must hear that sound, and if you hear it and do not heed it, it would have been better for you and the world had you never been born.”

So how does the notion of beauty fit with this “sound of the genuine”? Langston Hughes speaks of beauty in his poem, “I too.”

I, too, sing America. 
I am the darker brother. 
They send me to eat in the kitchen 
When company comes, 
But I laugh, 
And eat well, 
And grow strong. 

Tomorrow, 
I’ll be at the table 
When company comes. 
Nobody’ll dare 
Say to me, 
“Eat in the kitchen,” 
Then. 
Besides, 
They’ll see how beautiful I am 
And be ashamed— 
I, too, am America.

“Ayi Kwei Armah insists that we need more people who will not be so drunk with the wine of the world that they forget who and why they are. He says we need men who will live according to a different set of ideals and values and hopes. 

“He might have said we need more Morehouse men! 

“We just bought 2,000 copies of Armah's book to ensure that every current Morehouse student will read it and commit to being a part of why, on this campus, the beautiful ones are shaped and reshaped every day. 

“This new and beautiful embrace -- a "world-of-our-dreams embrace" -- is not for students alone. We need a new embrace of faculty and staff as well. And that won't happen until more of us, through pure self-examination, first embrace the warning Dr. DuBois had for all of us when he said, "Unless we conquer our current vices, our current vices will conquer us!" 

“So this is a war for preeminent values too!” 

Dr. Wilson interviewed about his tenure, speech and the Cradle to Prison Pipeline on Wanda's Picks (last guest):  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks/2014/02/28/wandas-picks-radio-show-morehouse-college-president-dr-wilson

To watch President Wilson's inaugural given Feb. 14, 2014, speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWiLgPRWQ90

To read: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-silvanus-wilson-jr/the-world-of-our-dreams_b_4809872.html

To see President Obama's Initiative Launch: http://www.whitehouse.gov/my-brothers-keeper

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/28/us/politics/obama-will-announce-initiative-to-empower-young-black-men.html?_r=0  

http://www.thenation.com/blog/178581/obama-himself-my-brothers-keeper-admirable-flawed


The White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for African Americans and Ebony Magazine invite you to participate in the 2014 

Summits for Educational Excellence for African Americans. Visit 

March 28-29, 2014  at Morehouse College (Registration opens March 3)
With the Morehouse Research Institute on the African American Male

Morehouse College, Ray Charles Performing Arts Center
830 Westview Dr. SW
Atlanta, GA 30314

[If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate in this event, i.e. sign-language interpreter, captioning services, Braille, large print or CD Rom, please contact This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it no later than March 23, 2014.]
 
April 25-26 at Jackson State University, Jackson, MS
(In collaboration with the Coalition zunchof Schools Educating Boys of Color)
Topic: Mental and Physical Health and Well Being
 
June 13-14 at Laney College, Oakland, CA
(In collaboration with Frontline Solutions 3rd Annual Gathering of Leaders)
Topic: Education and Employment
 
October 24-25 at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
(In collaboration with the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education)


Dance
Collage des Cultures Africaines! March 6-9

Diamano Coura West African Dance Company presents Collage des Cultures Africaines! March 69. Collage 2014 African Cultural Festival sets the stage to present an unprecedented roster of World Class Artists, Master Instructors and Dance and Drum Power Houses vital to cultivating the Bay Area's African cultural landscape. Located at the historic Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, Diamano Coura boasts a 19th-year presenting season with this year's theme: "Bah Be Sonlu - "Let's Play the Drums. Tickets for the March 8th Saturday Gala performance are on sale at "brown paper tickets"- http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event or available at Diamano Coura's Saturday class from 2:30pm-5:30pm at the Malonga Center. 

Schedule highlight locations: Thursday-Sunday, Mar. 6-9, Conference and classes $17 each (early bird savings through Mar. 1) @ the Malonga Casquelourd Center, 1428 Alice St, Oakland, CA.  Saturday, March 8 in Oakland Technical High School Auditorium, African Marketplace/Documentary 6 p.m., box office opens at 5 p.m. Showtime at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 9, is a Community Breakfast 10 a.m.-11 a.m. For complete schedule and information call: 510-508-3444

More on highlights

Oakland Technical High School Auditorium will serve as the location of Saturday's Gala celebration to accommodate the usual over flow crowds; opening with an African Marketplace at 6 p.m. to feature a short-documentary screening encompassing the oral narratives of "Knowledge Transformers", rare interviews collected by Dr. Esailama Diouf. Diouf remarks upon her father, Dr. Zakarya S. Diouf the company's Founder and Director as being "A Missionary of the Arts."
 
Collage Cast

Collage 2014 will showcase a stellar cast of Cultural artists par excellence sure to lift the spirits of its International audience and bring them to their feet.  Headliners include Julia Tsitsi Chigamba & Chinyakare from Zimbabwe, Savage Jazz Dance, Mahea Uchiyama, 40 years of black dance -Dimensions Dance Theater, Quique and Maria, and Diamano Coura West African Dance Company; and special Guest Artist presentations.

On the Fly!

African American Shakes presents Medea 

Medea.  African-American Shakespeare Company stages Euripides’ infamous Greek tragedy about a jilted wife exacting the ultimate revenge on a cheating husband. Dawn Monique Williams directs, with Leontyne Mbele-Mbong in the title role. Medea plays Saturdays and Sundays, March 8-30 at the Buriel Clay Theater at the African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton Street (at Webster) in San Francisco. Opens Saturday March 8 at 8:00 p.m.  Plays Saturdays, March 15, 22, 29 at 8:00 p.m. Sundays, March 9, 16, 23, 30 at 3:00 p.m. African-American Shakespeare Co. Buriel Clay Theater, 762 Fulton Street (at Webster), San Francisco. Tickets $12.50-$37.50.   800-838-3006 or www.African-AmericanShakes.org.

Theatre -- The Final Days of Negro-Ville by Keith Josef Adkins  

Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in association with the African American Art & Culture Complex presents The Final Days of Negro-Ville by Keith Josef Adkins  directed by Michael Gene Sullivan 2pm - Saturday, March 1 at the African American Art & Culture Complex, 762 Fulton Street , San Francisco, CA. Synopsis: Cornell Gates is Ivy-League educated, black and charming. He's also the mayor of an exclusive all-black suburb nicknamed Negro-Ville. In this clever satire, when the Recession hits, Cornell Gates is torn between keeping up the town's exclusive lifestyle or figuring out a way to save it from poverty. With humor, The Final Days of Negro-Ville puts a spotlight on a community that can't imagine a life without new cars, new clothes and money. Admission: FREE

Other Theatre

Brava! for Women in the Arts presents the West Coast premiere of Lottie’s Ghosts, written and performed by Shakiri to benefit directed by Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe

Brava Artist In Residence and Izzy award-winning choreographer, Shakiri, brings an innovative, original work for the stage to Brava Theater. Adapted from her novel by the same name, Lottie's Ghosts showcases Shakiri's skills as a storyteller, dancer - and as a visual artist with originally crafted, 'larger than life' stick figures she created to populate the stage and bring Lottie’s Ghosts
to life.

In the play - set amid the backdrop of 1960’s Oakland, California when the Black Panthers are active, civil rights are being sought, and the Vietnam War is in full swing - Lottie’s ancestors piggy back a ride with her dead mother, clamor to be heard and, as a result, wreak havoc on her life. In the safety of her sub-basement, she secretly paints them into existence. When Lottie’s adoptive son gets into trouble, she is forced to let go of her quiet demeanor, the unassuming library lady she’s become, and act.

Brava Theater Center is located at 2781-24th Street at York, San Francisco, CA 94110. Previews March 20. Runs March 21 – April 6, 2014*. Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 p.m. There are no show on Fri, March 28.  Tickets are $20. For information and tickets log on to www.brava.org or call 415-641-7657.
 
 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 05 March 2014 )
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