Friday, July 22, 2016

Wanda's Picks Friday, July 22, 2016

This is a black arts and culture site. We will be exploring the African Diaspora via the writing, performance, both musical and theatrical (film and stage), as well as the visual arts of Africans in the Diaspora and those influenced by these aesthetic forms of expression. I am interested in the political and social ramifications of art on society, specifically movements supported by these artists and their forebearers. It is my claim that the artists are the true revolutionaries, their work honest and filled with raw unedited passion. They are our true heroes. Ashay!

1. We speak to Andrew P. Saito and Amy Muller about the 39th Annual Bay Area Playwright's Festival closing this weekend, 7/22-24 at Custom Made Theatre in SF. 
Bios:
Amy Mueller (Artistic Director) is an award-winning director. Since taking the helm of Playwrights Foundation ten years ago she has transformed the scope of the organization into a year-round center for new plays and playwrights. Recent credits include: ...and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi by Marcus Gardley, One Big Lie by Liz Duffy Adams (dramaturg), Mr. Fujiyama's Electric Beach by Kevin Oakes (dramaturg), and co-creator of The Mandala Olive Project at the Exit Theatre. Director: Voices Under Water by Abi Basch, Between The Eyesby Naomi Wallace and No Good Deed by Mollena Williams. She has directed at Cutting Ball Theater, Berkeley Rep, San Diego Rep, A.C.T. Seattle and Arizona Theatre Company. She is the mother of two beautiful children.


Andrew P. Saito's plays include La Lechera, El Rio, finalist for the Princess Grace Award, Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night, featured at Cutting Ball Theater's 2011 Risk Is This...Festival, and The Patron Saint of Monsters, selected for a 2012 Core Apprentice developmental reading at the Playwrights Center of Minneapolis. Other presenters include the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Brava! for Women in the Arts, Kearny Street Workshop, Asian American Theatre Company, La Pena Cultural Center, and Mixed Phoenix Theatre Company in New York. He has been twice commissioned by Handful Players, and has taught playwriting in rural Mayan villages in Guatemala, and with WritersCorps, Performing Arts Workshop, legendary Peruvian theatre collective Yuyachkani, and Montalvo Arts Center as a Teaching Artist Fellow. A two-time alternate for a Fulbright Fellowship in Creative Writing, as well finalist for as a Jerome Playwriting Fellowship, Andrew is a proud founding member of Cut the Rhino, a 5-member theatre collective formed by the 2011 graduating class of the Iowa Playwrights Workshop.

From the Archives:

2. Tania Santiago, dir. Arguas (Feb. 2014)

3. Tarell Alvin Craney re: Head Passes@ BRT (2015)

Music: Zion Trinity; Nova Lima

Visit: 
http://tobtr.com/s/9088397

Friday, July 01, 2016

Wanda's Picks Friday, July 1

This is a black arts and culture site. We will be exploring the African Diaspora via the writing, performance, both musical and theatrical (film and stage), as well as the visual arts of Africans in the Diaspora and those influenced by these aesthetic forms of expression. I am interested in the political and social ramifications of art on society, specifically movements supported by these artists and their forebearers. It is my claim that the artists are the true revolutionaries, their work honest and filled with raw unedited passion. They are our true heroes. Ashay! 

1. From the archives: "Grateful" -- Victoria Theodore (4/26/2013)

2. Velina Brown joins us to talk about "Schooled," SF Mime Troupe's 2016 Summer Season opening July 2-3, 1:30 p.m. in Berkeley at Cedar Rose Park and 7/4 Dolores Park in San Francisco.

Velina Brown (Lavinia Jones, mother),
Rotimi Agbabiaka
 (Thomas Jones, son)
Bio:

Velina Brown (Actor, SFMT Collective) has been a principal performer for the Mime Troupe in such shows as City for Sale, Eating It, 1600 Transylvania Avenue, Mr. Smith Goes to Obscuristan, and Showdown at Crawford Gulch to name a few. She was the Devil in Deal With the Devil, Veronique in Veronique of the Mounties, she's played Condoleeza Rice three times, and was both an actor and Contributing Lyricist on GodFellas and Making a Killing. Velina's most recent shows with the Troupe include Ripple Effect, For The Greater Good: Or the Last Election, Red State, Too Big to Fail, and Posibilidad: Or Death of the Worker for which she won Best Principal Actress by the Bay Area Critics Circle. In 2012 she was honored as one of TBA's "35 Faces", artists who've made significant contributions to the Bay Area theater community.

Mother and Son with Keiko Shimosato-Carreiro (Ethel Orocuru)




Music: Zion Trinity's Elegba Opening Prayer; Victoria Theodore's "Grateful," Rene Marie's Star Spangled Banner/Lift Every Voice 


http://www.michaelgenesullivan.com/

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Critical Thinking in Alameda


Mekdes and Jessica on "Police Brutality"
Today was the final day of classes at the College of Alameda. I started the day at 4:30 in the morning and still found myself dashing to school with little time to spare. I was excited to see what my English 5 or Critical Thinking students had prepared for the Educational Forum on Current Issues. It was our second Forum in two semesters and this class focused on Marriage Equality, Food Issues: Obesity, Food Deserts and GMOs; College Costs and Police Brutality.

Peter and Tesfalidet, "Obesity"
Ruitao and Romeo, "Food Deserts"


The presentations were outstanding—I’d read most if not all their arguments—Toulmin, Aristotelian, Rogerian and Definition.  This semester and last the final exam was given in three parts: written, orals, and community forum. To prepare, student scholars annotated bibliographies and identified fallacious arguments; they read multiple topical arguments then reduced them to standard form. They were advised to stay current on their issue by paying attention to local, national and global news. Students also rehearsed arguments and watched and listened to classmates present in class on other topics such as Beyoncé’s performance at Super Bowl 50; Dr. Bennet Omalu on the dangers of football in Concussion, staring Will Smith (as Omalu), and the merits of integration for educational equity in an NPR program, This American Life where reporter, Nikole Hannah-Jones, looks at public education in Normandy, which has one high school, the one that Michael Brown attended at graduated. Normandy borders Ferguson, Missouri.

Alan and Anna, "College Costs"







As guests mingled Tuesday morning, we were all sort of drawn to the presentation at the College Costs table. Alan had a computer program which would tell one how many years it would take to pay off a loan if it knew the amount.  He and Anna’s poster had multiple cartoons with illustrations of the debt college cost were in proportion to graduate income.



Vincent and Stewart, "Climate Change"





At the Climate Change table, Vincent and Stewart advocated for using less carbon fuel to decrease the effects of heating up the earth’s atmosphere, while Stewart shared how global warming affected our food supply with the reduction of insects who pollinate plants. He links his issue to that of GMOs and food supply reduction.

Abby and Riley, "Marriage Equality"
Our next presenters were Abby and Riley: their topic Marriage Equality. One never knows how close an issue is to a person. Such was the case with Riley who shared how emotionally taxing the same sex martial laws were for her parents when it’s seesawed between lawful and unlawful. What was great at this table were the "how to  be a part of the solution" slips which painted scenarios with suggestions on how to respond. I picked up these two: How to remain an ally to the LGBT community—1. Don’t stare at gay couples. It’s disrespectful. 2. If you are a boy, do not assume every gay man likes you. If you are a girl, do not assume every lesbian likes you.

Each student scholar team illustrated the problem, shared its research findings in the surveys conducted this semester (minimally 100 people), fallacies found on the issue (10-20 required which were evenly distributed between both material and formal fallacies), and scholarly and popular research (min. 20 sources). The students were also asked to give visitors something to do (e.g. Abby and Riley), to get involved. Each presentation was to be interactive whether that was the "debt to income predictor" or the analysis of what we ate last night at the Food Desert table. Using the dialectic approach (something students learned this semester) both participants and visitors were changed by the encounter.

Certainly this morning, student enthusiasm and involvement over this past 18 weeks in issues they cared deeply about was contagious.

Sienna, Kapena, Jordan, "Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs)"
The students who spoke about GMOs shared important information about the big corporation Monsanto (Roundup), which is the major producer of genetically modified seeds.  Jordan, a part of the a team with Sienna and Jordan shared startling facts about scientific tests which have shown traces of pesticides in the milk of lactating mothers in both Europe and America, with the higher percentages in the US. We also learned about the big corporations' successful campaigns against food labeling; however, advocates for such disclosure are collecting signatures now to get the bill on California’s ballot. Right now we do not know which plants are genetically modified and which are not. Genetically modified seeds cross pollinate or pollute the fields of non-GMO crops. Those farmers are then sued, because such seeds are patented.

Professor Steve Gerstle a.k.a. "Embedded Librarian"
and City Manager, Jill Keimach
Sienna, Jordan and Kapena with GMO Collage,
Political Billboard Assignment (WLTC)
It was great to see Ms. Jill Keimach, Alameda City Manager, once again. She said she was interested in the student's research and was happy to support them. It was also great to meet a librarian from San Francisco’s City College and another librarian from a Peralta Sister College Tuesday morning. I’d expected to see at least one COA manager, dean, vice president or even Dr. Blake, the president, but none came by to support the students. If the mission of Peralta Community Colleges, and by extension, College of Alameda, is to make education relevant and practical, then the students who presented at the Critical Thinking in Alameda Forum modeled this ideal. Professor Steve Gerstle’s work as an embedded librarian gave these students hands-on instruction and access to tools which made their ability to look at issues important to each of them with depth, discernment, and discretion. Each piece of evidence was weighed and measured against a standard as well as set or vetted against other evidence to see how the material aligned in agreement or disagreement. Students also were asked to make sure that their facts were up to date and that their survey samples were relevant, sufficient and representative.  How many students have the opportunity to create a survey? These students did. In fact one of the students in the current class, Abby, presented a lesson in how to develop questions for a survey. She is transferring this semester.  After the Forum she shared that she is waiting to see which of the colleges and universities she applied to accept her.


Ruitao, Food Deserts Political Poster Assignment
Programs such as this public forum lets the community know how valuable student learning is. When we show up for students, we let them know that their hard work is appreciated, valued and noticed.  When we talk about Student Learning Outcomes in a vacuum, put lives on graphs or show such lives as dots on a curve, the flesh and blood of it– the hours spent in the library in the stacks or on the computer or at home at the kitchen table combing through articles on academic websites like EBSCO is lost. This also does not take into consideration the full-time student who is also working full-time, has elderly parents or siblings to care for, or even the student who suffers the loss of a parent during the semester, but decides to not drop the class as he juggles care for grieving loved ones. What about the student who falls in the shower and then misses three weeks of classes while she is in the hospital? There are other students who are underemployed who get jobs while classes are in session. Not many
Police Brutality Political Poster Assignment (WLTC)
community college students are living at home with a benevolent parent or guardian’s care. There are a few, but the majority of students here choose education because knowledge is a powerful tool no one can take it from them. Students in this Critical Thinking class have developed tools to think and walk logically along a landscape littered with propaganda. They can recognize most landmines (hidden agendas, bias or unfair emotional appeals).  This intellectual, yet practical movement saves limbs and lives as student scholars challenge the dominant narrative with questions. Copyrights do not make falsehoods go away.
Marriage Equality Political Poster Assignment (WLTC)
The critical thinkers guests met at the forum have learned to question everything and agree sparingly without adequate proof in a world which would rather they follow along blindly like the fabled mice.

Foxes? Hedgehogs? Perhaps more a 21st century hybrid, nonetheless, these students above all pursue truth.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Wanda's Picks Friday, May 20, 2016

This is a black arts and culture site. We will be exploring the African Diaspora via the writing, performance, both musical and theatrical (film and stage), as well as the visual arts of Africans in the Diaspora and those influenced by these aesthetic forms of expression. I am interested in the political and social ramifications of art on society, specifically movements supported by these artists and their forebearers. It is my claim that the artists are the true revolutionaries, their work honest and filled with raw unedited passion. They are our true heroes. Ashay!

1. Gloria Brown joins us to speak about the 15th Annual Soul Stroll for Health, May 21 at Coyote Regional Park in San Mateo http://pgdglobal.com/soul/

2. Ben Vereen (archived June 2012)

Carl Lumbly as Ira Aldridge in Red Velvet
3. Carl Lumbly speaks about his role as Ira Aldridge in Red Velvet at San Francisco Playhouse (through June 25). In 19th century Europe, at a time when his kinsmen were still in chains in America, Aldridge built an incredible career on the stages of London and Europe.





 

Brittany Frazier (Connie); Carl Lumbly (Ira Aldridge)





4. Lynn Morrow, Music Director of the Oakland Symphony Chorus and Nicole Greenidge Joseph, Soprano soloist, join us to talk about the Oakland East Bay Symphony concert of music by John Adams, Stravinsky, Barber and Ravel tonight, Friday, May 20, at 8 pm at the Paramount Theatre. Ms. Joseph, who was the winner of the 2015 Toland Vocal Arts Competition, will sing Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915. (Originally Broadcast 5/6). 

Note: We ran out of time and didn't get to broadcast the great interview; however, I have provided a link here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wanda's Picks Radio: Wed., May 18, 2016


This is a black arts and culture site. We will be exploring the African Diaspora via the writing, performance, both musical and theatrical (film and stage), as well as the visual arts of Africans in the Diaspora and those influenced by these aesthetic forms of expression. I am interested in the political and social ramifications of art on society, specifically movements supported by these artists and their forebearers. It is my claim that the artists are the true revolutionaries, their work honest and filled with raw unedited passion. They are our true heroes. Ashay!


1. Kola Adesokan -- Kolamanjaro and his Yoruba Heritage Ensemble is where the classic Yoruba song-meter meets the modern. It is indeed, the crossroad at which yesterday's rhythms intersect with today's sounds to propel the future of cultural arts entertainment forward. It is a bridge that seeks to link Yoruba from the source with others far and widely dispersed around the globe and across the Diaspora. Kola Adesokan, (aka Kolaman or Kolamanjaro) describes his music as Juju-Fusion, a style which he branded Rhythm-N-Groove™ of Afrika, which is another variety of Afro-Beat genre founded by Fela Kuti of Nigeria. Kolamanjaro is a jazzily rhythmic sound whose soul is deeply rooted in authentic Yoruba heritage experience.


2. Almaz Yihdego has a M.A. in Public Administration, from California State University East Bay and currently seeking a PHd. in the Global Health Program at UC Berkeley. She has over ten years administrative experience working in non-profit   organizations, government agencies and community services, an active Board member for several community agencies, serving diverse populations throughout the Bay Area. Ms. Yihdego has extensive professional and personal experience in mentoring and training families from diversified backgrounds in the successful navigation of the educational/health and social services systems. She has developed programs for children, youth and adults that support their needs and has a broad range of experience in service identification, funding entitlements and empowering parents through advocacy.

Visit http://www.globalcommunicationservices.org/index.html


Music: Zion Trinity's Elegba Opening Prayer; Kolamanjaro's Ori Mi Ma Deyin; Aar Maant's Deeqa; Eddie Gales's African Sunrise; Novalima's Coba Coba Liberta; Meklit and Quinn's Bring is Home to Me; Mark Lomax's Lives Matter Part 3: Black and Beautiful Power.


Show link: http://tobtr.com/s/8790665

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Baba Araba Ifayemi Elébúibon, Araba of Osogbo US Tour

Royalty is in town and while trumpets did not wake up a slumbering West Oakland, drums certainly did as praise singers honored the holy man from Osogbo, Nigeria, West Africa. The honored "Araba," a title given to the spiritual leader of the region, is a position, Baba Ifayemi Elébúibon, also a chief, scholar and author, has held for five years now (2010). He says he likes the position, but it is a lot of work. He comes from a line of Araba, a title and position he says, which used to rotate between families. Now, leaders are nominated. As Araba he is consulted on Ifa or Yoruba spirituality. He is the preeminent authority.
It's exciting to have the Araba here with us. It has been ten years since his last visit to the United States and his tour, which started in New York continues in California with stops in Oakland (May 15-21) and Los Angeles (May 21-24). He is lecturing and doing spiritual work with the people. It is a rare and wonderful opportunity to consult with a spiritual emissary. 

The audience was mixed Monday evening, May 16, children and their parents mingled – there was a lot of laughter as children played in the West Oakland Youth Center—the auditorium large enough for them to find a space to frolic while the adults listened and then asked questions. 
Dr. Nonsisi Cayou and the Araba, Baba Ifayemi Elébúibon

It was somewhat a reunion as the Araba hugged friends whom he hadn’t seen in years, like Dr. Nonsisi Cayou, who brought him to San Francisco State in the early ‘70s during the Black Studies golden years where he taught alongside scholars: Dr. Nathan Hare, Dr. Wade Nobles, Dr. Oba T’Shaka and Dr. Theophile Obenga, Dr. Albirda Rose. I don’t know if Dr. Angela Y. Davis was still there or Dr. Sonia Sanchez. These appointments were just after the dust was settling from a prolonged student strike for such a department at a public institution. Black Studies came to San Francisco State with a bloody price tag—broken bones, prison sentences, extradition and probation.  Baba spoke about how important it is to know oneself.  Obviously, black self-knowledge is something to fear, squash, subdue. 
The Araba surrounded by Khalilah and Adimu and their children

Dr. Cayou has the distinction of creating an institution to hold African consciousness which lives in black bodies. Her Wajumbe Cultural Center at 762 Fulton Street housed a Pan African expressive arts practice which was reflected later in Everybody’s Creative Dance Center in Oakland, founded by Dr. Halifu Osumare (one of her students). Everybody’s is now The Malonga Casquelorde Center for the Arts and Wajumbe is The African American Art and Cultural Complex. Great things are still happening under its roof, the Dewey Crumpler mural still gracing its outer wall—yet, the revolution has quieted. 

What was neat about the first evening of what the Ifa Festival, which continues through Saturday with nominal fees. Opening night was free and if you missed it— that’s it. The art exhibit, lectures, film screenings, dinner and block party have price tags on them. Visit https://www.facebook.com/ifafestival
The Araba, Baba Ifafemi and Dr. Wade Nobles

Obafemi Origunwa is host of the week long Ifa Festival which corresponds to the Araba's visit; however, is separate. The week long series of events hosted by Obafemi correspond to the 12th Anniversary of his initiation by the Araba in Osogbo.  Could we call this a happy coincidence?

After thank-yous, Baba Origunwa introduced Dr. Nobles whose scholarship looks at what it means to be human—African. Just back from a trip to Kwait and then Cuba, prior to the reception and conversation with Araba, he shared a bit about his trip to Cuba. 



The AfroCubans are looking at racism and white supremacy and how to heal from mental slavery. It’s a conversation Dr. Nobles has been facilitating for his entire career— He shared with us his friendship with the Araba and his initiation into Ifa. From Baba Araba Ifayemi he learned how all African spirituality differed yet was the same, whether this is Vodun, Santeria, Lukumi or Candomblé. 

Dr. Nobles used the analogy of the flashlight—Ifa the light which helps clarify objects felt, yet remain unseen, in the darkness. Initiated by Baba Araba Ifayemi, Dr. Nobles while respectful, offered a different perspective on African Diaspora spirituality. In response to the Araba’s answer to one of many excellent questions, Dr. Nobles disagreed with the Araba, who stated that no priests traveled to the New World as a slave. How then do we explain the spiritual practices here in the West? No matter then name, enslaved Africans knew their gods. Perhaps these priests voluntarily allowed themselves to be captured. Certainly, it is our indigenous spirituality—black gods that continues to save us from psychic disaster. 

Dr. Nobles stated that the dominant narrative is just a perspective. We have a right to our own perspective, and to the freedom to be African, even if this makes others uncomfortable. The Araba encouraged us to wear our African clothes if we desire, and challenge those people who suggest that clothing keeps one from performing her duties. 

The Araba spoke of special days to honor the Egun or ancestors—Thursday. He also told us that the New Year in Nigeria starts in June. . Both Dr. Nobles and I have birthdays in June. The Araba’s birthday is in July. He’s a Leo (smile). He spent a long time talking about the spirit twin or Egbe. Each complex concept was couched in a story. 

This noble man is such a treasure to spend time with. It would be a shame if he came and went and you missed him.  Baba Araba Ifayemi Elébúibon, Araba of Osogbo, is also doing readings while he is in town. For information email: ifadunke@aol.com

Kolamanjaro and his Yoruba Heritage Ensemble performed wonderful selections from a new project Kola Asokan is working on to translate and bridge the cultural African Diaspora with sacred music utilizing rhythms developed outside of continental Africa by Disposal citizens. The work is a rhythmic conversation centered on what is the soul of blackness: Ancestors and the belief in the Creator -- Mother, Father, God Spirit.

Kola says of his ensemble that it "is where the classic Yoruba song-meter meets the modern. It is indeed, the crossroad at which yesterday's rhythms intersect with today's sounds to propel the future of cultural arts entertainment forward. It is a bridge that seeks to link Yoruba from the source with others far and widely dispersed around the globe and across the Diaspora." The ensemble is performing Sat., May 21 at the Omni in Oakland as a fundraiser for Youth Empowerment Services (YES). 


Friday, May 13, 2016

Wanda's Picks Radio Show Friday, May 13, 2016

This is a black arts and culture site. We will be exploring the African Diaspora via the writing, performance, both musical and theatrical (film and stage), as well as the visual arts of Africans in the Diaspora and those influenced by these aesthetic forms of expression. I am interested in the political and social ramifications of art on society, specifically movements supported by these artists and their forebearers. It is my claim that the artists are the true revolutionaries, their work honest and filled with raw unedited passion. They are our true heroes. Ashay!

Show link: 
http://tobtr.com/8790655


1. We speak to Dr. Adolphus Hailstock, composer and Maestro Michael Morgan, about Within Our Gates, the Oscar Micheaux film (1920), at the SF Silent Film Festival, Sat., June 4, 5:15 p.m. at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. Dr. Hailstock has created a new composition for the work, which debuted as part of the Birth of an Answer, an event put on by the Institute for the Humanities at Old Dominion University in Virginia. Birth of an Answer reprises Micheaux's lesser known response to D.W. Griffith's racist epic Birth of a Nation centennial (1915) and the race riots of 1919.

Within Our Gates is the oldest surviving film made by an African-American director and not only an intrepid rebuttal to D.W. Griffith’s racist epic The Birth of a Nation (1915), but also a history lesson to white America shocked by the 1919 riots. It portrays the early years of Jim Crow, the revival of the Ku Klux Klan, and the Great Migration in the story of a young African-American woman who goes north to try to raise money for a poor, rural school in the Deep South.Within Our Gates confronts the racial violence of the time with the same vigor as it counters hateful stereotypes. 

This will be the San Francisco premiere of a new score for strings and voice by acclaimed composer Adolphus Hailstork, performed by Oakland Symphony musicians and members of the Oakland Symphony Chorus, conducted by Michael Morgan.

2. Joyce Jenkins, poet, editor, publisher, joins us to speak about the Northern CA Book Awards, Sun., May 16, 1 p.m., at the San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin Street in San Francisco.

Music: Zion Trinity; Victoria Theodore.