Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Negro Speaks of Rivers...Synopsis

A Negro Speaks of Rivers written and performed by Margaret Laurena Kemp A Negro Speaks of Rivers is a one hour and 10 minute theatre piece written and performed by Margaret Laurena Kemp, directed by Mark Lindberg, featuring sound design by Guy Brenner, and video design by Moses Hacmon. Tying together personal and ecological history, this piece reveals that water and land use issues are also culture and race issues. Low income, urban America is alternately glamorized in music videos and demonized in the news as “the hood” or “the ghetto.” In this climate, any real discussion about creating a sustainable future for these communities is sorely lacking. A Negro Speaks of Rivers is my artistic response to this lack. The play begins with my personal narrative, and then it ties this narrative to intersections between environmental racism and urban development. A Negro Speaks of Rivers also brings the Afro-Caribbean immigrant community I grew up in onto the stage; a group of people whose voices are virtually absent from American Theatre. A Negro Speaks of Rivers is inspired by the tradition of African American slave memoirs and the unearthing of cowrie shells, amulets, toys, and other objects belonging to enslaved peoples from the ground of old plantations. 1970s Boston, where the play is largely located, is also full of individuals and events that speak to the history of race in America. I revisit Louise Day Hicks, court ordered bussing, race riots, redlining, blockbusting, and FHA-sanctioned segregation in order to link the past to the present, and to show how the choices we make in terms of urban land use impact the human body and spirit. In January 2011, A Negro Speaks of Rivers was presented in excerpts at the Electric Loge in Venice, California. As result, it was invited to be performed in Cape Town, South Africa in the prestigious Out the Box Festival. The work was also presented at Cape Town’s Magnet Theatre. As a work-in-progress the work was presented at The International Theatre of Changes in Athens, Greece, on July 14, 2010. It is my hope to expand the ways in which presenting organizations can connect with communities through the arts; provide historical data that can be useful in correlating how land and water use relate to racial dynamics and violence; and promote partnerships between the public and private sector to facilitate a more equitable distribution of resources.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thank you!

Thank you all for supporting my work in South Africa. I taught a lot and I learned a lot more. In the next few days I will be archiving my posts from South Africa and replacing them with pages detailing all the work I did during the past 3 months. You will hear from me personally regarding live presentations that I will make to discuss the trip. I hope that I will have many and you will be able to attend at least one! Good news! The journey is not over. A Negro Speaks of Rivers will be touring the U.S and beyond. Tour dates will be posted here. During my last two days I was had the opportunity to take enjoy Cape Town. One thing no one told me about is the great number of beautiful flowers that you can find....the city is garden of flowers...here are some of the images I captured.
A random act of beauty...I saw on a walk
Another random act of beauty...
A Protea at Kirstenbosch Gardens
Girls in Trees a different type of natural beauty
Me and a Giant Protea...The Protea is South African's National Flower

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Moving from Workshop to Rehearsal at the Lawrence House

Phase 3 of The Mother Tongue Project with Visiting Artist Margaret Laurena Kemp's collaboration. We meet with the girls of the Lawrence House every week. The past several weeks have been spent getting to know each and learning basic theatre and storytelling skills. Now we will start putting it all together for our show! Here is gorgeous Davinia reading her homework responding to the question "what are your super powers?"

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Negro Speaks of Rivers/Mothertongue Collaboration at Gender Dynamix

Phase Two of my collaboration with The Mothertongue Project is underway.

Freeing the Breath Healing the Body Healing the Breath Freeing the Body
This week I reflected on my time in Greece last summer and visiting The Theatre at Eppidarus. This ancient theater is on the site of one of the earliest surgery hospitals. Even brain surgery was performed there. At that time it was recognized that theatre has the power to heal. Thousands of people flocked to see a show and get a healing. My collaboration with the Mothertongue project speaks to that ancient tradition. Using theatre to heal both the performer and community. This is the spirit that I started week 2 and our work with Gender Dynamix.

The participants have very little (if any) performance/acting experience. The process is a bit scary. I will ask them to go places they haven't gone before both physically and mentally. So small group meetings with Sara Matchette ( Mothertongue Co-Artistic Director) the participants and I gave us a chance to commune without the stress of having to perform in anyway. It was nice to see everyone physically more at ease and ready to start the process of building Creative Instructions…. low stress, trust building, on one meeting. We all need to get to know each other feel that we are safe place so that we can share experiences and create theatre in the traditional sense of the words.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Mother Tongue Theatre Project with Visiting Artist Margaret Laurena Kemp


Mothertongue Theatre Project Collaboration and Performance Project with Visiting Artist Margaret Laurena Kemp

Margaret Laurena Kemp tours her new play A Negro Speaks of Rivers Cape Town, South Africa.

A three month collaboration to create, present and teach theatre that combines artistry of professional and community collaborators.

The work will bring people of many ages, cultures and levels of theatrical experience together to bridge divisions within diverse communities in the participants own homes.

.... giving voice to communities who have been silenced by shame, experience, economic, political and cultural divisions.

Our Focus

  • Land and Water Use and Its Link to Urban Violence

  • Tolerance (as it relates to homophobic violence)

  • Water and the Refugee Experience

Our Background Stories

A Negro Speaks of Rivers, by Margaret Laurena Kemp ( Land, Water and Violence)

Before there was an epidemic of violence, there was an epidemic withdrawal of resources (land and water) from urban communities. This principal mechanism for locking millions of out of the mainstream of society and into poverty.

Women, Walking and Water, by Mothertongue Project w/ Margaret Laurena Kemp ( Refugees Voice )

Africa is the continent which experiences the greatest proportional incidence of death from water related diseases... Africa is also the continent which is making slowest progress towards meeting the MDG in water and sanitation… On the basis of the existing rate of progress, the HSRC has made a preliminary estimate that (if current demographic trends remain constant) it will take another 45 years or to 2035 for the continent as a whole to achieve the MDG

Creative Instructions..., by Margaret Laurena Kemp (Tolerance GLTB)

Noxolo Nogwaza was found murdered on April 24, 2011, in a vicious attack that seems to have been motivated by her sexual orientation. Nogwaza's face and head were completely disfigured by stoning, she was stabbed several times with broken glass, and the evidence suggests that she was raped. A beer bottle, a large rock, and used condoms were found on and near her body.

The Magnet Theatre in Observatory on 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12 October

Margaret Laurena Kemp will collaborate with The Mother Tongue Project to create a new work that uses a physical approach

to theatre/storytelling to facilitate exploring stories of women, walking and water. These meta-mythical narratives will be drawn from East and Southern Africa.

In creating this new work she will share her expertise in Fitzmaurice Voicework and The Michael Chekhov Technique as applied to play development and rehearsal. These are the same practices she uses to create her own work. At the end of the residency The Mothertongue Project will have a new original work new creative techniques that will be the lasting legacy of the residency.

The Impact

-Create dialogue in the community in a neutral setting
-Give voice to community who has too long been silences
-Provide creative tools that the participants can continue to use heal them selves
-Viral Videos that capture the imagination and opens the hearts of globe

Who we are working with

Mother Tongue Project in Collaboration with Margaret Laurena Kemp
will work with...
Gender Dynamix
The Lawrence House