Troy Anthony Davis... The Living Word Festival
Since my conversation with Troy Anthony Davis' sister Martina Correia, Troy has gotten a temporary stay of execution. We are really happy about this. Listen to the 10/22 archived interview with Mrs. Correia. Also, on this show is an interview with Chanaka Hodge, whom I saw last night at the Living Word Festival in San Francisco. Jacinta Vlach Liberation Theatre's Animal Farm opened the evening, followed by War Peace: the One Drop Rule. War Peace, a multidisciplinary work which examined the interplay of relationships of a customer and a clerk (Chanka Hodge) in a coffee shop and three men on a corner, one who sold CDs and DVDs, the other a dancer (Jason Samuels Smith) who never spoke, and the third, a voyeur.
I thought from the title, the one drop rule had to do with the racial segregation practiced during enslavement and post-antebellum America--if there is a post-Antebellum America, to keep black people apart. This tactic is similar to the one practiced by colonizers in Rwanda among the indigenous people--Tutsis and Hutus, favoring one over another, giving status and privilege to one ethnic group over another based on a frivolous external feature like skin tone or nose length--but the One Drop Rule is not about that.
I wish Chanaka had spoken a bit more succinctly about War Peace, especially her character, who looks at the bible, a document the girl in the coffee shop believes in, yet questions--especially the Noah story and how he was saved. She has a line which questions inconsistency and the chaos unraveling all the work people have invested in being human, the self-regulation, prescriptions and laws pertaining to what it means to be human. This ties into Animal Farm really well, the whole notion of questioning the paradigm, rather than just staying in the box and getting by....
The one drop...in a drought where only the San Francisco Bay Area is without water and things get so bad, people contemplate jumping into Lake Merritt...cars turned around at the LA border, unless you can prove you live there. It was a crazy scenario that made me think quite a few times before I flushed the toilet later on, before I turned on faucet after that to wash my hands....I even took the leap and thought about how many paper towels did I really need to use to dry my hands.
What does it mean to imagine a space opposite the one you do not occupy as being more real than the container you occupy? What if, none of it is real? Do you pour water into the air? Does it land or does it evaporate? Does it matter?
Hum. The One Drop Rule. Race is Fiction. It's a provocative idea. There were tee-shirts one could buy before and after the show with the 2008 theme logo. Tonight the Living Word Festival concludes. Check out my website: http:wandaspicks.com and click on the blog to see a photo I took last night as the cast was taking their bows. I didn't take a photo of the opening ensemble. I was trying to be good...No cameras allowed and all that...although there wasn't an announcement and I am press....
There were so many great images and if you know the Orwellian tale of the animals taking over the farm...they just get tired of being mistreated by the big guys and then once they are free find themselves trapped in their minds. You can free the body but if the mind is not free then reenslavement is inevitable. Jacinta Vlach Liberation Theatre's Animal Farm is a little different. The animals seem to come to their senses, all except one who can't shake off the chains and gets trapped in the ideology of the oppressor.
The visuals are awesome...spaced between text from the book, like the declaration of Animal Liberation. There is also a really cool graphic of a President Bush puppet the hand tattooed with all the corporations connected to his government--I intentionally didn't include myself--his versus mine or ours. The music was equally entertaining. I wish there was a program. I was like, is this a reflection of budget cuts or what?! Anyway, I will get back to you on the details, because for so much work to go into these performances, the least we can do is acknowledge the individuals, like the actors and dancers, set designers who made it possible and some of the thinking that went into the piece. The choreography was simply awesome. The use of hip hop aesthetics in the movement, design was so obvious and so fantastic, especially in Animal Farm, which I hope to see again, as I hope to see War Peace again. I think Chanaka said what is premiering at the Festival is an excerpt.
The cast in War Peace was on the flier: Chanaka Hodge, Rafael Casal,Daveed Diggs, Nico Cary, and choreographer and yes, silent dancer, Jason Samuels Smith.
Okay, so if you are in San Francisco, check out the Living Word Festival this evening, closing night at Artuad Theater.