‘Patriot Acts’ will open minds to new possibilities

2 November 2005 at 2:26 am (Press, Shows, Spoken Word, Theatre) (, , , , , , , , , , )

“Patriot Acts” will open minds to new possibilities
by Lydia Howell

Theater for the 21st century is being born, with Pangea World Theater as midwife. The “Bridges Project” unites different artistic mediums—spoken-word, filmmaking, music, dance and theater—in fresh collaborations. “Patriot Acts,” made by 22 diverse artists (both local and international), crescendos beyond convention to take on today’s crucial post-9/11 issues.

“The theme is freedom, drawn from conversations about the world we live in and where our voices are in the dialogue and where they aren’t,” says co-curator/actor Sha Cage, best known as co-creator of Mama Mosaic, the TC women of color theater group.

“All we knew is we were going on a journey and we’d meet fellow travelers. We’d break bread together, have dialogue. The project would be fragments of—artifacts from—that journey,” Cage’s co-curator and director e.g. bailey elaborates.

Cage and bailey spent time in Europe engaging in political and creative dialogues, bringing back insights and artists’ work for “Patriot Acts.”

A rehearsal of “Patriot Acts” is an exhilarating evolution: Drea Reynolds’ resonant singing; Amanda Furches’ stark dance; Cage as the Statue of Liberty carrying a flag-covered baby; TC hip-hop icon Truthmaze riffing with videotaped Leeds, England, poet Swan; exhilarating poetry performed choral-style. “Characters” range from BBC reporters and the latest racially-profiled people labeled “terrorists” to historical figures like Harriet Tubman and a 15-year-old African-American girl, Kismet.

“Aesthetically it’s like jazz. Group improvisation. Process is the thing itself,” said “Bridges” curator J. Otis Powell, as he explains the “open space” philosophy “Patriot Acts” emerges from.

“The conversation around war—those three letters—is broader than the United States. Being in Bosnia, talking about the effects of war still happening: separation of families, lost neighbors—it’s visceral,” Cage says. “Talking with artists about how they continue their art during war and other subversive ways we might employ here.”

“How is someone in London, Paris, Belgrade dealing with all these issues?” bailey says, as he explains the aims of what he calls “transcontinental collaboration.” “We were pointed to not like the French—but, what are French people on the street talking about? What we see of Americans presented in the media, we know that’s not us!”

“Patriot Acts” is rebellious art that dares to cross artificial boundaries made by traditional theater and the growing national security apparatus. These artists liberate the term “freedom” from being a pro-war slogan to becoming unleashed creative expression and vigorous dissent. Artistic firepower of this magnitude could be both the mightiest weapon against violence and the transformative means towards reconciliation.

$12. Mon-Wed. Nov. 7 to 9, 7:30 p.m. Varsity Theater, 3808–4th St. SE, Dinkytown, Mpls. 612-203-1088.

Originally posted on Pulse of the Twin Cities.

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‘Afrika’ (Poem) Broadside

1 November 2005 at 9:00 am (Poems, Writings) (, , , , , , , )

Afrika (Poem) Broadside - e.g. bailey (700pxl)

This broadside of my poem, Afrika, was created for the Family Housing Project’s Home Sweet Home Again: An Exhibition of Art and Poetry, a project created to kick off the Family Housing Fund’s 25th Anniversary Year, with a goal to communicate the need for affordable housing in the Twin Cities. The exhibit featured over 100 artworks and poems by Twin Cities artists dealing with issues of homelessness, affordable housing, or the meaning of home. The exhibit was first presented at Intermedia Arts in 2005, and continues to be exhibited throughout the Twin Cities. A calendar, combining the artwork and poems, was also created, of which the broadside above was included. There was an accompanying chapbook which also featured the poems. Other artists featured in the exhibit included Sha Cage, Ta-coumba Aiken, Del Bey, Maya Washington, Frank J. Brown, Bill Cottman and others.

Afrika was written upon my return from a four and a half month journey back home to Afrika, in 1999, which included travels to Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Tanzania, Dubai, Amsterdam and Hong Kong. The poem deals with the displacement, the longing and the responsibilities that one often feels as an Afrikan in the Diaspora. The photograph used in the broadside is by Del Bey, a photographer in the Twin Cities, who captured the image on her journey to Afrika.

For more information on the exhibit, you can link here: http://www.fhfund.org/sshh/default.htm

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