Wednesday, July 05, 2017

SF Mime Troupe 2017 Opens with "Walls" at Dolores Park in San Francisco

SF Mime Troupe 2017 “Walls,” A Review
By Wanda Sabir


What makes SF Mime Troupe the award-winning theatre it is, is its amazing work which is always topical and timely. Its current production, July 1-Sept. 10, “Walls” is no different. Playwright Michael Gene Sullivan, SF Mime veteran’s new work looks at federal immigration policy from George W. Bush and William Jefferson Clinton to Barack Obama and Donald Trump. The quartet has much in common, each president responsible for policies which criminalize its immigrant population. Surprisingly, we hear President Obama often on the issue, his tenure one of the more draconian against immigrant populations. “Walls” looks at the xenophobia such scapegoating fosters, along with hate crimes masked by pseudo-patriotism. Heavy? Yes, but the pacing, excellent direction, cast, Mime Troupe humor, stunning songs and surprising rumba, make the medicine easier to swallow.









At center, in “Walls” is a love story between ICE agent L. Mary and recent arrival Zaniyah Nahuatl (Marilet Martinez) who trembles every time she thinks about the crossing from Mexico into America. Zaniyah lives with Mary who wants her to stay hidden.  L. Mary wants to keep her girlfriend safe, while Zaniyah Nahuatl wants to earn some money to send to her mother back home.  While L. Mary is at work hunting down illegal immigrants – the case load ever increasing, at home, Zaniyah cooks and cleans and takes care of the house.  Zaniyah speaks to her mom often on the phone and though justifiably paranoid ventures out into the neighborhood to shop at Somali immigrant, Bahdoon Samakab’s store.

The two hit it off immediately, dancing around the store as they swap immigrant stories. Samakab (Rotimi Agbabiaka) is a successful businessman whose income supports his immediate family and relatives at home in Somalia. He is not illegal or undocumented, yet neighbors in the community who once befriended him over his 25 year tenure, now treat him with scorn because he is Muslim and an immigrant. As Samakab juggles hard work and financial responsibilities, he complains to his mother whom he speaks to daily about his son who loves all things American except honest labor.

Lastly there is Irish ICE agent Cliodhna Aghabullogue (Lizzie Calogero), who is vigilant in ridding the nation of terrorists and criminals. Cliodhna thinks she has to divorce herself from her homeland to be authentically American, a land and people she loves, perhaps more than they love her.

The drama takes place on the backdrop of a crippled Lady Liberty: her head sits on stage with weather vane crown and one foot. The scale is missing as is any semblance of compassion. When “Walls” reaches its climax, Cliodhna says to Zaniyah that she is not interested in her story or reasons for being in America. It is not surprising that when the tables turn, the same agency, ICE is unsympathetic to Cliodhna as well. If ever, Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), prominent Protestant pastor’s statement of regret over his inaction and support of Hitler’s regime is apropos: “[when] they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”  L. Mary too has much to atone for when “Walls” concludes.

As the audience at Dolores Park packs up, we wonder what our country would look like if such immigration policies didn’t exist. “Walls” certainly put a damper on what could have been a day of jubilation for the home team (smile). However, until the walls come tumbling down— visible and equally impermeable invisible ones, this nation will not know freedom and Frederick Douglass’s question will remain unanswered. Visit sfmt.org or call (415) 285-1717, to find out when a performance is coming to your neighborhood as this free community theatre makes its rounds in Northern California with multiple stops in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Sacramento, San Lorenzo, Richmond, Mill Valley, Point Arena, Merced, Petaluma, Ukiah, Davis, etc.

Most shows start at 2 p.,m. with music at 1:30 p.m. There are post show discussions July 8 at Live Oak Park in Berkeley, and July 26 at Mime Troupe headquarters in San Francisco; August 12 at Glen Park in San Francisco and August 26 at Willard Park in Berkeley; and Sept. 3 at Dolores Park in San Francisco. Listen to a recent interview with actor Marilet Martinez (Zaniyah Nahuatl) at Wanda’s Picks Radio.


Wanda's Picks Radio Friday, June 30, 2017

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. Amy Mueller, Artistic Director,  joins us to speak about the 40th Annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival, July 13-23. (Early Bird special extended to 6/30). Amy is an award-winning director and producer of original theater for over thirty years, and is a leader in the national new play development sector. Since taking the helm of Playwrights Foundation in 2001.Her directing credits include Berkeley Repertory Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre, ACT Seattle, A.C.T. Arizona Theatre Company, Cutting Ball Theater, Crowded Fire Theater and many others. She is the mother of two beautiful children.

2. Rebroadcast 8/29/2014 show

3. Marilet Martinez (Actor) is a bilingual actor, teaching artist, fight choreographer, improviser, physical theatre deviser, puppeteer, certified Zumba instructor and SF native. She first worked with the San Francisco Mime Troupe in 2003 as a work shop student then went on to understudy for the company in 2011. She has also taught for the Youth Theater Project. Marilet has performed with ACT's The Strand, Cal Shakes, Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor, Theatreworks' New Works Festival, Word for Word, PCPA Theatrefest, Shotgun Players, Crowded Fire, African-American Shakes, Woman's Will, Teatrovision, Shadowlight Theatre, SF Playwrights Foundation, and more. She is a company member at Impact Theatre and an associate artist with Cutting Ball Theatre. Marilet dedicates this show to her abuelitos and abuelitas for teaching her how to be brave.
SFMT's Walls opens July 1 at Cedar Rose Park in Berkeley.

4. Rebroadcast: Pricilla: Queen of the Desert, at Theatre Rhinoceros: May 27-July 1, joining us are: Charles Peoples III (Adam/Felicia), AeJay Mitchell (Choreographer). Shows are at Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson St., (at Battery St.) SF.


Friday, May 26, 2017

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. DJ Spooky joins us to talk about the SF Silent Film Festival's screening of Body and Soul, dir., Oscar Micheaux | USA, 1925 | 93 m., Friday, June 2, 7 p.m. at the Castro Theatre in SF

2. Gianna & Fely Tchaco,14th Annual Berkeley World Music Festival 6/10-6/11 (various locations)

3. Desiree Rogers (Deborah) & Jeunee Simon (Henrietta Lacks) join us to talk about Theatre First's production of HeLa at Live Oak Theatre through June 17.

4. Pricilla: Queen of the Desert, at Theatre Rhinoceros: May 27-July 1, joining us are: Charles Peoples III (Adam a.k.a. "Felicia"), AeJay Mitchell (Choreographer). Shows are at Eureka Theatre215 Jackson St., (at Battery St.) SF. Previews which begin 3/27-3/31 are pay what you wish.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wanda's Picks Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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. Graham Lustig, Artistic Director, Oakland Ballet, joins us to talk about "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Odell Johnson Theatre at the Laney College, June 1-3 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, June 4, 4 p.m. at Laney as well.

2. Cherie Hill, Artistic Director, IrieDance, joins us to talk about her new work.Terrestrial Footprints Part 2, June 2 & 3 at Alena Museum, a West Oakland space for African Diaspora art, 2725 Magnolia Street, 8 p.m.

3. Laura Elaine Ellis , executive director of the African & African American Performing Arts Coalition and co-director of the Black Choreographers Festival curates: Soul to Soul: An Artistic Response to Baldwin and Coates, 6/3 and 6/10, a collaborative piece which draws on the writings of James Baldwin and Ta-Nehisi Coates to illuminate contemporary issues related to race and social justice at odc.dance/wddf and 415-863-9834. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Wanda's Picks Special Broadcast

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 forbearers. 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. Andrew Wood, San Francisco International Arts Festival
founded the Festival in 2002. Prior to that he had over 10 years experience as a presenter and an artist manager working at places such as ODC Theater, Life on the Water, the Ethnic Dance Festival and the San Francisco Mime Troupe.

2. Eugene Redmond, Da-Dum-Dun: Annual Tribute to Miles Davis, Henry Dumas, and Katherine Dunham. Three artistic giants who greatly impacted this city and the world will be honored Friday, May 19, 2017, at 6:30 pm in the Multipurpose Room of Building “D” on the Higher Education Campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), 601 J.R. Thompson Dr., East St. Louis (62201).Three artistic giants who greatly impacted this city and the world will be honored Friday, May 19, 2017, at 6:30 pm in the Multipurpose Room of Building “D” on the Higher Education Campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), 601 J.R. Thompson Dr., East St. Louis (62201).

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Wanda's Picks, Wednesday, May 10, 2017

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 forbearers. 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!


Ayori Selassie




















1. Ayori Selassie
Selfpreneur and Salesforce
https://www.techplayground.in/

Ayori Selassie joins us to talk about "A Taste of Oakland" and the Tech Playground featured there, this weekend, May 13, 12-6 p.m.

Ms. Selassie is the creator of Life Model Design, a methodology used to solve complex life problems using design thinking. As the inventor of Life Model Canvas® (a framework to design your life), Selassie is a globally recognized thought leader, entrepreneur, philanthropist and innovator. Selassie currently works as a Product Marketing Manager on Einstein at Salesforce delivering artificial intelligence for everyone. Selassie leverages over eighteen years of software engineering, technology and consulting experience serving as a trusted adviser for startups and medium sized businesses.


Alo Billingslea, director.
Photo: Paul Kuroda


















2. Aldo Billingslea, director, of 
Samm-Art Williams's Home, at Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Friday, May 12, 7 p.m. in the Burial Clay Theatre, 762 Fulton Street in San Francisco. Home, at Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Friday, May 12, 7 p.m. in the Burial Clay Theatre, 762 Fulton Street in San Francisco. Aldo Billingslea, “HOME” Director, has mounted full productions of Lorraine Hansberry Theatre’s, A Raisin in the Sun for Pear Avenue Theatre and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Goodwill Shakespeare Company in Summerland, British Columbia. At Santa Clara he has directed Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, Love’s Labours Lost, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream along with the Shadowbox, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, The Odd Couple, The Good Doctor and Pentecost and Brian Thorstenson’s Welcome to Claradise. As an actor Aldo has performed at TheatreWorks, Marin Theatre Company, the Aurora Theatre, the Magic Theatre, A.C.T., and with Shakespeare Festivals of: Arabia, California, Dallas, Marin, Oregon, Santa Cruz, and Utah




Akubundu Amazu-Lott
For tickets and information.























3. Akubundu Amazu-Lott, All African Peoples Revolutionary Party, joins us to speak about African Liberation Day, May 27, 2017, 11-5 at Tassaferonga Park. Theme: "African Youth Organizing Against All Settler and Neo-Colonial Regimes: From DRC (Congo), to Standing Rock and Palestine!"


As a youth living in Los Angeles, CA, Akubundu Amazu-Lott experienced first hand being profiled by the police. On at least a half dozen occasions he was pulled over at gun-point by the LAPD. This experience contributed to his understanding that African people in America were treated as second-class citizens.  He made his way out of Los Angeles to San Jose State University. There he participated in sports (football) and received his B.S. in Business Administration and his Master of Urban Planning.

As an undergraduate student athlete he experienced racism on the field and in the classroom.  His resolve to change the situation of African People in particular and humanity in general lead him to join several progressive organizations including the Black Student Union (SJSU) and the Pan African Student Collective. He was introduced to and joined the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (AAPRP) in 1979 and is currently a member of the Central Committee. It is through his extensive study of Pan-Africanism and the struggles of oppressed people globally that he remains motivated to work for positive change. 

He was formerly an adjunct professor at San Jose State University in the African-American Studies Department. He taught classes on The African/Black Family, Economic Issues in the African-American Community, MLK and the Civil Rights Movement, Urban Policy and Inner City Residents, and more. Additionally, he has been a guest speaker on numerous university campuses throughout California. He has lead  groups of students to Haiti, Belize and most recently Cuba to meet with grass-root organizations. This life changing experience has lead to continued work to change U.S. policy in Haiti, as well as an ongoing working relationship with groups in Haiti. 

Friday, May 05, 2017

Wanda's Picks Radio Show, Friday, May 5, 2017

1. Safiya Fredericks, a Richmond native, director, join us to talk about a new play opening this weekend, May 6-7, 6-8 p.m., Richmond Renaissance at El Cerrito High School.

2. Shifting Movement:Art Inspired by the Life &Work of Yuri Kochiyama (1921-2014) artists: Susan Almazol, Jocelyn Jackson, Lenore Chinn. The exhibit is up at SOMarts Gallery through May 25. Special programs are May 20 and closing night.

3. Dorsey Nunn, Executive Director, LSPWC, joins us to speak about Quest for Democracy Advocacy Day at the state capital,  Monday May 8.

4. George Spencer, Musician, Composer, is being featured at City College of San Francisco Advanced Band Workshop, Tuesday, May 9, 8 p.m.-10 p.m. with Professor David Hardiman Jr. at Diego Rivera Auditorium, City College Ocean Campus, 50 Phelan Avenue, SF.

George is an educator, musician, composer and producer. He has been the music director for the Whispers, music director/road manager for the late Esther Phillips and toured nationally and internationally with John Handy, Johnny Otis, Oscar Brown Jr., and the Johnny Nocturne Band. A musician of great demand, George has performed with Don Shirley, Dakota Staton, Nina Simone, Mc Coy Tyner, Charlie Hayden, Marshall Royal, The Dells, The Manhattans, The Four Tops, Jerry Butler, Tammi Terrell, Martha Reeves, Lennie Williams, Brook Benton, Rufus Thomas, and Charles Brown. He has recorded with Johnny Otis, Barbara Morrison, John Handy, Bill Summers, Paul Jackson, James Levi, Spider Web, Sugar Pie De Santo, Bill Bell, Carolyn Ayana, Mike Vax Jazz Orchestra, San Francisco Allstar Big Band, Fillmore Preservation Jazz Orchestra, Junius Courtney Jazz Orchestra, Rev Dr. Isaiah Jones, and the Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church Choir George “Jazbeau” has performed at many festivals including Switzerland’s Bern International Jazz, Italy’s Umbria International Jazz, Japan’s UMK Jazz, Monterey Jazz, Monterey Blues, Houston International Jazz, Vancouver Jazz, and the New Orleans By-the- Bay Festival, to name a few.

He has taught at San Francisco State University, University of Santa Clara, UC Berkeley Summer Music Program, Laney College, Merritt College, Peralta College, San Francisco City College, Oakland Technical High School and Emery High School.
George is a prolific writer, arranger, producer and publisher and has cataloged his music through his publishing companies: Kenkuyu Music and Beau’s Original Music.
He continues to perform with the Johnny Otis Tribute Band, the San Francisco All Star Big Band, the Mike Vax Jazz Orchestra, and is Music Director for the Junius Courtney Big Band and Music Director at Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church.


George is committed to bridging the digital divide between private industry, urban schools, and under privileged communities through music, publishing, performance and education.                                                

Friday, April 28, 2017

Wanda's Picks Friday, April 28, 2017

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!

This is the 25th Anniversary of the Verdict in the Rodney King Trial where in Simi Valley the guilty police officers were not charged. This travesty of justice set off a simmering explosive throughout Los Angeles county. In this 25th anniversary reflective conversation, Grace Lee convenes a space for discourse. The perspectives are both archival, controversial and reflective from people who were there then and now.

Uncensored, K-Town'92 looks at the interaction between the black community, Korean community and Latino communities within the context of the diseased container--racism and white supremacy. Scholars, journalists, children, citizens . . . all get there say.
1. Grace Lee, Korean American director, joins us to talk about her interactive media project and film, K-Town'92: Who Gets to Tell the Story.

Interactive Website

On Saturday, April 29th at 1P ET/10A PT, WORLD Channel will be Facebook Live streaming K-Town '92 Reporters. WORLD Channel’s Executive Producer Chris Hastings will be joined by director Grace Lee, and a special guest, to discuss the anniversary of the 1992 L.A. riots and the K-Town project, including the short film and newly launched interactive website ktown92.com. Use the comments section to ask questions after the stream. Join in at facebook.com/WORLDChannel.

2. Roger Guenveur Smith, joins us to talk about Rodney King, the film, directed by Spike Lee which airs on Netflix today, the 25th Anniversary of the LA Rebellion (4/30). 
3. Peoples Climate Movement -- Bay Area, April 29, 11-5 p.m. at Lake Merritt Ampitheatre. Joining us are: Susan Schacher and Carroll Fife.