This Month in Black History: channeling Baldwin and Simone and telling the story of the Herero people of Namibia

February 6, 2015

 

This year has been off to an exciting start! Last Friday I had the honor of playing one of my greatest heroes in a piece called "A Posthumous Interview with James Baldwin." In a lovely Castro home I channelled Mr. Baldwin before an audience of 50 people invited to participate in the on-going Gay Ancestors Series. 

 

I will forever cherish that opportunity to feel the strength of Baldwin's conviction, his cunning playfulness, righteous anger, and prophetic certainty course through my body. He is such a vital voice and should be required reading for every human being - certainly for every American. I encourage you to pick up one of his essays or novels and let his truth set you free.

 

I continue my current period of hero-channeling by donning High Priestess garb and singing "Mississippi Goddam" at a drag tribute to Nina Simone this Friday, February 6. If you're in San Francisco I encourage you to head to The Stud bar around 11pm to see my alter-ego, Miss Cleo Patois, pay homage to Nina's fiery artistry. Here's the Facebook event page:

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/741410879270424/?pnref=story

 

On the writing side of things I recently published part two of my ongoing series for Theatre Bay Area magazine, Acting While Black, where I chat with members of the Bay Area theatre community about the challenges facing actors of color. Here I explore the obstacles facing black actors who wish to perform the classics. part three comes out later this month.

 

http://www.theatrebayarea.org/news/211405/Acting-While-Black.htm

 

And finally, I'm in a fantastic new play (with a really long title) that opens this coming Monday, February 9! "We Are Proud to Present ..." tells the story of six American actors who try to create a piece about a little-known German genocide of the Herero people of Namibia in the nineteenth century.

 

It's not light fare but the play takes you on a moving journey from humor to despair, Africa to America, and really provokes a hard look at where we are as a species when it comes to race. I'm incredibly proud of the work we've done on this show and I can't wait to share it with you. It runs in Berkeley till March 7 and you can find more info, including the full title at this link: 

 

https://shotgunplayers.org/Online/weareproud

 

I wish you all much joy and growth this year and I look forward to hearing about your adventures.

 

 

 

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