To London & Back: Women and War

IMG_3595 2To know me is to know just how much I love the So & So Arts Club and its founder Sarah Jane Berger.  So & So is a professional development organization by actors for actors, and I cannot even begin to explain how my life has changed for the better because of this club.

Now, as I have absolutely no trouble in admitting I’m a snob (but in a good way!;) and wish So & So was still a very well kept secret; one that only the best sorts of people would be privy to (ahem).  But I commend Miss Berger for creating a global artists club, and I’m still advocating to be American Representatives and/or head a chapter here (Please oh please!).  If there’s one thing Sarah knows how to do (and let’s just be honest, the woman is a wonder as an Actor, Director, Producer), it’s put on a festival. From Women in Arts and Hopefull Rep, to Kick up the Arts and Women and War, So and So offers numerous opportunities for artists to connect, engage, learn and work.

This year, I was lucky to be in London during Women and War, which was held at the So & So space IMG_8166 2at 6 Fredrick’s Place.  While I did not have time to see everything I wanted, I was able to see my extremely talented friend Zelina Rebeiro and the lovely Isaura Barbé-Brown (who even fooled this Midwestern gal with her American Accent!) in Veils.

Written by Tom Coash, the play focuses on American University in Egypt roommates Intisar and Samar.  “Intisar, a veiled, African-American Muslim student, thinks she might finally fit in when she enrolls for a year abroad at the American Egyptian University in Cairo. However, the Arab Spring is about to explode across the Middle East, threatening to overwhelm the young American woman and her liberal Egyptian roommate, Samar.  In the struggle to find their footing in this political storm, the young women instead find themselves on opposite sides of a bitter and dangerous cultural divide. Will the violent events leading up to the revolution salvage their friendship or shatter it?” 

VeilIMG_0736 2s is a great two hander focusing not only on religious differences (and similarities), but also the bonds between women, the Arab Spring (and what that meant for Muslim Youth), displacement and cultural hybridity. Zelina Rebeiro is superb as Samar, the party loving, freedom fighting non-hijab wearing Egyptian Muslim; and Isaura Barbé-Brown dazzles as Intisar, the American born conservative Muslim student who hopes to finally be understood and respected in Cairo. The exuberant Samar enlists her new African-American roommate in helping her create a blog debating the practice of wearing veils, but when the revolution interrupts, it threatens to ruin their friendship.

After Veils, it was on to see The Marvellous Adventures of Mary Seacole, a one woman show starring actress andFullSizeRender 2 songstress Cleo Sylvestre. The title is a play on Mrs. Seacole’s autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857), which is considered to be one of the first autobiographies by and about a mixed-race woman.

Who is Mary Seacole you ask?  I was wondering the very same; and was amazed to discover she was a Jamaican/Scottish/African entrepreneur, world traveler, hotelier, healer and self taught nurse who successfully tended to battlefield soldiers during the Crimean War.  It is widely believed that Florence Nightingale was the first woman to develop what we now know as modern nursing, but to hear Mary Seacole’s story puts all of that into question.  The viewer even learns Mary applied to the War Office to assist (and even spoke to Florence Nightingale herself), but was refused (no great surprise there…).

The play takes you on a journey from her early days learning about herbal healing from her mother, to her travels through Jamaica, London, Panama, her marriage, the Great Fire of Kingston, the Cholera Epidemic, and the war.  Throughout her life and career, Mary was held in the highest regard, and associated with such dignitaries as he Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of Cambridge, and many other senior military officers.  Late in life, when she faced economic downturn, Mary was able to survive and live somewhat comfortably due to the fund and care of her illustrious patrons.

In 1991 she was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit, and in 2004 was voted the greatest Black Briton.  More recently, a statue of her describing her as a Pioneer Nurse was erected at St Thomas’ Hospital in London on 30 June 2016.  The only known portrait of Mary Seacole resides in the National Portrait Gallery in London, England.

The final play on my agenda was Shrapnel, “A Collection of poetry, monologues and a play excerpt from the writers Chris Fogg, DHW Mildon and Rose Solari, ranging from a mother grieving the death of her son in the final minutes of WW1 to a mortician at Camp Bastian preparing for a date. Voices of women across class, generations and history [are heard].”  The featured shows and interwoven poems were Posting to Iraq by Chris Fogg, Coda, Go Firm, Shades and Prize Giving by DHW Mildon, and two Poems by Rose Solari.  I mostly had to see this show because, as long as I’ve known Sarah, I’ve never seen her act.  But now, I’m so happy I have! (secretly thinking of a show to in which to have her star…)

All in all, Women and War was an amazing festival, and I wish I had time to see more shows.  But, knowing Sarah and the So and So Arts Club, another festival isn’t far behind.

Love

BCM

 

Forever is a mighty long time…

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We’re back!  And we hope you’re as excited as we are.  Yes, we realize we’ve been away for what seems like forever, but we swear it’s for a good reason!  Despite our absence, thank you for remaining loyal and checking in with our team.  Nothing makes us happier than knowing we are part of an amazing, loyal and engaging community.

 

Our absence has not been in vain; we’ve been traveling, networking and making art magic with creatives all over the world. Theatres, movie sets, board meetings. New York, Paris, New Orleans–we’ve been busy little chicks.

2468C9291-ABBE-5B42-9191127EB0A6FC25Speaking of travel and (international) relationships, we’ve just returned from London, England, and had more than a fabulous time. From seeing the marvelous play Fabric written by the delightful Abi Zakarian (and we’re not just saying that because she’s our friend), to spending a majority of the trip at Women and War presented by the So and So Arts Club, Black Chick Media was all about empowerment, education and advocating for the arts.

Fabric, directed by Tom O’Brien and starring Nancy Sullivan, is a one woman play about Leah, “…who lost her friends, family, career, and dignity. Forced to move for a third time following a harrowing court case, she relives painful events in her past as she sorts through all the stuff that has accumulated in her spare room: clothes she doesn’t wear, books she doesn’t read, things she doesn’t need anymore. Leah desperately tries to unpick just where it all went wrong and who or what is really to blame.

FABRIC deals with the aftermath of a rape that isn’t believed and confronts the traditional roles still expected of women; questioning how much has changed since the sexual revolution of the 1960s.”

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L-R: Actress Nancy Sullivan, Writer Abi Zakarian, Director Tom O’Brien

It’s fierce, raw, powerful…a tour de force and just what is needed. Is it a feminist manifesto? Sure (is that even a bad thing?). But only in so much as it’s a story that highlights the patriarchal laws that oppress, regulate and condemn women’s bodies and rights… the standards set up by some omnipresent societal leaders who say how we should behave, who we should love, how we should look.

We’ve all been Leah at one time or another.  If it’s the cute plucky Leah who falls in love with a stranger in a bespoked suit, or if it’s the Leah depressed and trapped inside herself after a traumatic experience. This is a story that resonates and is more than familiar even if you’ve never personally experienced what Leah has; we all know someone. We’ve seen the news, read the papers, heard the conversations.  It’s a story that’s all too familiar and painful.  What we love most about Fabric is that the entire story is told from Leah’s perspective.  All characters, all action, all fear anger happiness and rage–seldom do we hear from women by women about women.  We love that the play is unpretentious; it meets you where you are, accepts who you are, and trusts you enough to take you on the journey.  If you learn nothing, if you leave this play unchanged, you should consider questioning your morals and basically your entire existence.

Thank you Abi for writing such a brilliant character and story that transcends all cultures, space and time. Leah is all women everywhere, and we can’t wait to see this piece stateside!

If you happen to be one of the lucky people heading to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival I highly recommend you see this unforgettable show (and also Mary Seacole but more about that tomorrow!).

We can’t wait to make magic with this fabulous creative.

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Keya Crenshaw & Abi Zakarian

Love

BCM

 

Presentation of Wilson’s Pittsburgh Century Cycle Hits Columbus

Contact:
Truman Winbush
PAST Productions Columbus
770 Bulen Ave.
Columbus, OH 43205
Phone: (614) 558-7912
http://pastproductionscolumbus.com

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PAST Productions Columbus, in association with Short North Stage, announces the production of August Wilson’s Two Trains Running

Presentation of Wilson’s Pittsburgh Century Cycle Hits Columbus

Columbus, OH, 20 January 2016: PAST Productions Columbus is thrilled to announce their collaboration with Short North Stage to present a year long August Wilson Festival funded by PNC Arts Alive.

Two Trains Running is a play by American playwright August Wilson, the seventh in his ten-part series The Pittsburgh Century Cycle. The play takes place in the Hill District, an African-American neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1969; it explores the impact of gentrification on a well-established African-American community.

August Wilson was an American playwright whose work included a series of ten plays, The Pittsburgh Cycle, for which he received two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama. The plays are each set in a different decade, and they aim to sketch the Black experience in the 20th century by raising consciousness through theater, and echoing the poetry in the everyday language of Black America. Wilson was fascinated by the power of theater as a medium where a community at large could come together to bear witness to events and currents unfolding.

PAST Productions Columbus is the creation of Patricia Wallace-Winbush, Tony Roseboro, Scott Porter, and Truman Winbush, Jr. They believe theatre is the tie that binds, and it has been their pleasure to work together for over 20 years in numerous plays. The goal at PAST Productions is to produce quality works that not only entertain, but also promote and uphold a message and vision of the Black community and culture.

Two Trains Running, directed by Patricia Wallace-Winbush, will feature Truman Winbush, Jr., Tony Roseboro, Guy Jones, Vincent L. Mason, Lisa Shepherd, Scott Porter and David Johnson.

It will play at the Garden Theatre, 1187 North High St., Columbus, OH 43201 March 3-19, 2016 at 7pm.

For ticket information please visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2488083

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Local Theatre: Zooman and the Sign

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L-R Tony Roseboro, Ricardo Jones, Demia Kandi, and Sean Winbush

In our continued effort to support local theatre, we are pleased to announce Zooman and the Sign presented by PAST Productions Columbus.

Zooman and the Sign, by Pulitzer prize winning playwright Charles Fuller, is set in Philadelphia, and concerns the violent actions of a young man terrorizing a neighborhood. The father of one of his victims feels that neighbors witnessed the crime, but will not come forward in fear of reprisal. He erects a sign accusing his neighbors of cowardice.

When: October 30 & 31; November 6 & 7

Where: Columbus Performing Arts Center 549 Franklin Ave.Columbus Oh 43215

Performances at 7 PM. Special matinee performances with cast talk back at 2 pm on October 31 and November 7.

Tickets available at http://www.brownpapertickets.com