Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hold On Wait For It episode 2

In episode two of Hold On Wait For It podcast sisters Claudia and Maia discuss looking sexy, the use of problematic language, taking offense, Sliders, Cleavant Derricks, Star Trek the Next Generation season 2 episode 5, Howie Seago, Common, Mackelmore, Eminem, Brooklyn 99, Stephanie Beatriz, Archer, Aisha Tyler, the murder of Jordon Davis, and race and ethnicity in the United States.

music feature: Black Eyed Peas- Let's Get It Started(ft Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Chipettes)

Sunday, September 07, 2014

theater of cruelty is call and response

the theater of cruelty is call and response
I choose to sleep in a labyrinth of stairs
amongst black pleather  heels
and calves full of hot air
at night, the dreams of historians
the breakers delight, the poets ache
keep me awake
I negotiate the next steps of the revolution
while an african performance artist
weaves hip-hop into my hair

Saturday, August 30, 2014

My TedxFargo Talk

Ted is cool. Fargo was awesome. I want to do more Ted talks.

Thanks to all my collaborators. Bronkar Lee, Cornflower, Wind Woods, Cassondra Lindbloom Fetty, Jenny Graham, Michael Locher, Eduardo Placer, Ruy Iskandar, Cate E. Ridenour, Jess Carr, Donya K Washington, Claude Alick, J. Alan Paul Photography.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dancibility at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Thank you Emory for gracing us with your final performance after 25 years of work with Dancibility. The entire groups work was superlative.The Green Show was beautiful and moving as was your dance.

Monday, August 25, 2014


"poetry for the people by the people"
By the people in Ferguson, MO
Edited By Claudia Alick
August 23-24, 2014

From "Dada & Surrealist Art," by William S. Rubin, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York 1968

Among Surrealist techniques exploiting the mystique of accident was a kind of collective collage of words or images called the cadavre exquis (exquisite corpse). Based on an old parlor game, it was played by several people, each of whom would write a phrase on a sheet of paper, fold the paper to conceal part of it, and pass it on to the next player for his contribution.

The technique got its name from results obtained in initial playing, "Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau" (The exquisite corpse will drink the young wine). Other examples are: "The dormitory of friable little girls puts the odious box right" and "The Senegal oyster will eat the tricolor bread." These poetic fragments were felt to reveal what Nicolas Calas characterized as the "unconscious reality in the personality of the group" resulting from a process of what Ernst called "mental contagion."

At the same time, they represented the transposition of Lautrééamont's classic verbal collage to a collective level, in effect fulfilling his injunction-- frequently cited in Surrealist texts--that "poetry must be made by all and not by one."

Editor’s note:  Ferguson, a suburb just north of St. Louis, drew national attention this month after white police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot an unarmed,18-year-old black man, Michael Brown, on Aug. 9. In the weeks sense the street have been filled with police violence, protest, looting, praying, press and productive work to make things better.

This poem was written in St. Marks Church, on the streets of Canfield Green, in art’s spaces in St. Louis, on the street.  Writers included children, protesters and volunteers from around the country, farmers, teachers, locals from the neighborhood, journalists, religious figures, computer programmers, politicians, activists, police, artists.

The people I met told stories of being jailed with no charges, ways to combat teargas and other forms of attack, being provoked, being afraid, being angry, being hopeful, organizing, what groups were against them, what groups were working for them, hearing about the death of Mike Brown online, seeing another black man shot by police at a different location, making art, making money, their poverty, their privilege, their confusion, their heartache, their impatience, their love, the reasons they were there, the reasons they cared.

Participants of the poem wrote after viewing only the previous line.  Handwriting was deciphered as clearly as possible.  Case and punctuation were retained for most part. No punctuation added. Spelling was corrected except where necessary for meaning.  Some line breaks added.  I wrote the first and last stanza.

A cacophony of voices
A movement of people
A cacophony of voices
A movement of people
A cacophony of voices

My love for my people is deep and strong
We must have no fear and keep moving on
And like a river erode the injustice that harms us
We pray for the little angels affected by the struggle
We pray for the families standing by each other with love
I pray, pray, pray for the mothers of little black boys

Race is part of the same embRACE, unity
The lack of Synchonisity     BRUTALITY     CONFUSING ME
Young children miming emotion at the site that ignited a movement
A movement where the rules bent
For a nation that lacks improvement

For our young
Is our future
Save them, SAVE THEM
Charges the negative
Rules and laws of the land
Please give our young people a chance
SAVE THEM, not kill Them
Injustice is not justice we need change in this land
Together we stand and we fear one man
So take your brother hand and hand each other to God loving hands
Justice and God for us all
Blessings and overflow are to be established by God
May God lift up the family of Michael Brown
As well as the many families victimized by police violence and our people in general

May the energy of shango!
Make a way out of no way
I don’t preach non-violence
I teach self-defense
Let’s continue to pray and participate in the peaceful protest for our community
This much is needed
Humanity is all
The quest for justice begins with us
Step by step, always forward
Moving forward, with are heads held high
Unity, Love, and Peace will Keep us
Black is beautiful, especially in large crowds
I shall not stop until justice is done
Until peace is restored and our youth are safe
We will continue to add water to a river of blood on our streets

Stay calm, and strong
Justice is coming!
But don’t get too calm,
Because this isn’t funny

God Is!!!
Peace, Hope and Love
Your Kingdom Beak Forth
Because no more broken bodies
No more broken dreams and better days
All we want is justice and new ways
My brownness is not a weapon
I am not meant for target practice
I practice with targets
Punctured paper with no soul
Break the Mold, We reach the goal
The gaze is intriguing leap
Is this true?  Is it honest? Is it me?
Who do I ask, to see myself?
Confusion, crowds, cheers and chants
I’m mentally drained
I can’t understand the lack of logic

So far the people in Ferguson are now walking
Together and helping each other helping the community
Now having a better understanding on what we
Mean when we say Justice No Peace
Justice on the police
And peace for us
And our family
And not just here

We live in different areas come from
Different walks of life
Despite all that we
Come together for equality
No Equality No Peace
We shall stand our ground until all needs are met
What’s right is right don’t panic a race for misunderstanding
Taking advantage of them and subconsciously enslaving them!
Strength is power
Power to the people
I’m a white girl from out of town, I know my place is in support, so my presence means more than my voice
Freedom justice and equality for all
Was the American promise
And it’s time to make due

So many voices spoke
Each one is true
A cacophony of voices

A movement of people

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ferguson Moment Sunday Midnight

Danny, Katy, and I roll out on the streets of Ferguson for one last night to hand out some supplies and allow me to be in a last moment of physical solidarity. Usually this area is full f folks but the funeral is tomorrow and the family requested peace. A journalist and two police officers add to my collaborative poem. The police talk about their exhaustion, and I can sense a few of them have some deep anger. We give a small group of protesters camped out with tents and supplies some oranges and note pads. Katy gets a list of things they really need. I make some balloon animals . Some dude from Indiana was making them and it became part of their protest culture. Dude has since gone home but they are still making balloon art with words on it. It's a little surreal making balloon animals after midnight in the streets of Ferguson. The stories and viewpoints the men share are important and varied. These are young black men from the neighborhood who have been out since day one, they've been jailed, tear gassed, harassed. They are exhausted but continuing. 2 young white women just arrived from Chicago give me water. I collect more poetry. The night is calm but for the quiet constant presence of cop cars. We head back to the hotel. I fly home in a few hours. I am full of feelings.

Ferguson Moment Day Three Sunday Gathering

Amazing gathering of diverse artists, art leaders in the community. I am so impressed, proud, grateful for our collaborators in organizing and facilitating the evening. It was a cumulative process which started with things that seemed like random theater games and exercises but built to a powerful scene that was staged by the whole room and ended with us solving an unjust event.

There was an awkward moment where some of us wanted press and others did not. I called the one press person who'd asked to attend and left a polite message disinviting her .  She attended anyway.  This trigged folks who'd had negative experiences with press or who were protecting the sacredness of the space.  There were others who advocated for the journalist and felt value in her sharing our story. I usually have the rule that if one person is made uncomfortable you shift to include them by adjusting the room but this was complicated.  The inclusion of the journalist might disenfranchise other folks in the room. We decided to roll with mixed opinions and welcome her but also tell the room there was press in the space and ask the press to identify themselves.  SURPRISE! Other press identified themselves.  We were surprised that we were a story. We did not want to be a story.  This was not about us.  We requested that no one use our pictures or quote anyone in the space without explicit permission. While this was a grand total of 5 min of the 3 hour event I learned a good lesson about press, narrative, and crafting space.  If we didn't want press we should have placed it in the invite we sent to the arts community.

We began gathering moments of injustice or peace people had witnessed or experienced and these were placed on a wall.  Then we did an exercise that centered us where we observed without staring, where we followed without chasing, where we connected without touching. We did an exercise where we found out where we were all from and where we were coming from.  Where we had things in common and where there was difference.  Then we sang together and gained physical empathy and emotional empathy.  In pairs we listened to each others stories and told them back as if they were our stories.  We learned how we move and tried to move like others.   We split into two large groups and chose one story we all felt resonance with and staged it.   Then we did Theater of the Oppressed style lightening forums and intervened into the scene. We listened, we cooperated, we collaborated, we created transformative art.

The room gave us messages to send to the national community and gave us so much affirmation. Time and effort very well spent.  Now to spread these messages.  Now to meditate on them. Now to act upon them.

Ferguson Moment Sunday morning

I start the day from my hotel room with phone conversations with locals artists inviting them to lead a section of or Sunday event. I have a long conversation with Rebecca Martinez, a theater artists from New York who works with Sojourn Theater. I saw her in a beautiful piece set on a farm and a bus station and a church and outside where there was dancing and a meal served.  I remember it helped me understand Portland in a deeper way.  I go downstairs and find that breakfast is being broken down but Mica is still there with Carmen Morgan a colleague who consults with OSF on diversity and inclusion work. It's a super surprise. She there with her faith hat on and is looking for a church to go to.  We're headed to a church to see some kids do youth theater and we all attend together. Below are the notes I took while watching int he audience of friends and family of the church, the theater, and the children.

We are inside a church
The children face us on formation
Quote Langston Hughes
What happens when a raisin is left in sun
Gunshots become whip cracks
The children wail and reach for freedom
The sound track calls for them to rise up
They sing we are drum Africa to America 
They March in rhythm 
They sing for peace and surround us
They clasp hands in solidarity and connection
We applaud 
The littlest ones sing this little light if mine 
We join them clappingp
They become the ocean through dance
Wade in the water 
They are chained
Keep your eyes on the prize
Wade in the water
Unchained through dance
I am weeping inside 
Naming maya Angelou 
I rise and still I rise
I am the dream and hope of the slave
They create music with their bodies with feet hands and voice
Alone all alone nobody but nobody can make it out here alone
Music gets funky hiphop
Life doesn't frighten me at all
I am laughing now 
We applaud 
Phenomenal women 
Little does a back flip
Martin Luther King
We shall overcome
Injustice a whet is a threat to justice to everywhere
No justice no peace
A call to service
A call to commitment
A call to speak out against injustice
Faith is taking the first step
Even when you can't take the whole staircase
Deep in my heart I do believe
Step dance
Blues music
Langston Hughes
I too sing America
A white cop walks through the space
He passes the stage and walks out the front door
We all give him stink eye
Langston Hughes continues 
That's the blues
I dream a world
My world
To fling arms up towards the sun
The children tell us their dreams
We applaud
Beat boxing
Black island Africa me and my song
Little girl can sang!
To be young gifted and black
Is where it's at!
We applaud
If I can see it
I can do it
I believe I can fly
African drums
African dance
We clap along
We testify
Some stand 
Hands up dont shoot
Standing ovation
Proud mamas and papas
Proud brothers and teachers 
Artistic director Ron Himes thanks all and shouts out Purlie Victorious
When you support the main stage it supports the work with the youth
The preacher makes a call for the churches, and all other black institutions to support Black Rep
Taking us to church

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ferguson Moment Day 2 Canfield Green

Mica and I arrive at St. Marks Church to find something to volunteer for. Sharifa has been there since 7:30 am. I start to collect my streetpoem and Mica is taking it all in. We head to Canfield Green to help with a project a local started called the Story Wall. I think it was Elizabeth Vega since she's the one who taught us how to do it.  That said at a certain time that day I end up running the table with a volunteer from Texas for several hours and people start asking me questions like I started it.  The sun is shining and it's a beautiful if humid hot day.  Everyone is always giving out bottles of water and I think the bottled water companies must be making a fortune over this.  I'm super grateful because it's the kind of weather where if you are not constantly hydrating you can get a heat stroke. There's a big field to the left with tents and people giving out free food and BBQing. There's a stage next to it with a sound system and a big Christian group worked the stage all day with loud passionate preaching, singing, gospel dancing and rapping.  Down the middle of the street dried roses led to where Mike Brown was shot.  A small memorial of items laid with love were there and another memorial was set up by the side of the road. There were a lot of people, neighbors, kids, tourists, protesters, activists, folks from all over the country. Later in the day there was a rally up the street.  A lot of marchers came by after that.  People shared stories, children played, people yelled loud messages, and people laughed, and people cried, and people took pictures, and journalists hunted for stories, and the mix of politicians, and volunteers, and people who lived there walked and stood and mixed and mingled. The day was hot and my heart was grieved the entire time I was there.  It felt like a wake. It felt like a vigil.  It felt like  party.   I was grateful to head home that night for more logistical planning and debriefing.  I met some of the first respondents who started protesting.  They had some deep stories.  I collected more poetry.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ferguson Moment day one Legacy

Danny and I attend the open mic at Legacy organized by UrbArts. Turns out the slam is Saturday night (darn it!) One side of the space is a dance club with folks hand dancing to soul music. The other side is a separate room with a DJ and tables. We jam on a rough plan for Sunday at the bar.  We're feeling uncomfortable with the power dynamics of outside artists teaching locals but we create a rough plan in the knowledge that everything is written in pencil and we can rewrite our plans if the situation calls for it.  This is my first time working with Danny but he strikes me as a planner like me.  I feel comfort from a well organized structure. Ironically, it's what makes me feel free to be flexible.  I chat on the phone with a guest artist who does theater of the oppressed as the opening act finishes up. She seems very cool and smart and it's risky to say yes to folks but everyone is vouching for another person on our makeshift team. I trust Danny so I trust Katy.  The open mic starts with great music and poetry. There's a piece that's a duet with singing and spoken word, a guy does singer songwriter work on the guitar. A white dude does an improvised piece with a washboard that seems to be about Ferguson, but he quickly loses the crowd after using the n-word. It's a primarily African-american space and I wonder what this dude was thinking.  A woman does a very funny poem about working out while being overweight.  It's nice that not everything has to be about Ferguson. I spit my piece called "black girl so sorry"  and Danny spits a poem from his notebook that is fierce, cops to his privileged, and gets us fired up for social justice through art. Danny is receiving the double hand shake from the brothers with skill in the room and I'm getting those slaps on the back that cripple me which means we did good. We invite everyone to join us on Sunday at 6. The featured poet invites everyone to attend a fundraiser for Michael Browns family Sunday at 4 at Plush. The night is a mix of revolution and the ridiculous all in rhyme.  If I lived here I think this would be a spot I'd hit at least a few times a month. 

Ferguson Moment Day One Kranzberg Arts center

We met with a small group of local and guest artists  at the Kranzberg Arts Center to discuss service activities on Saturday and what our gathering should be on Sunday. Thanks to Shanara's organizing and Chris Hansons generosity loaning the space. Guests include an artist from Sojourn Theater, a documentary theater artist from Boston, actors, and several local artist organizers. We discus other arts opportunities in the area, mental health, facilitation options and more. There have already been several gatherings of artists to discuss responses and locals are saying no more talking...more doing. As guests of the community we want to follow the lead of the locals, but they are asking us to lead.  They want clarity while we are defaulting to extreme openness.  They want plans and we want conversation.  We're cautious and conflicted because we want to connect to as many artists as possible and to be useful, but we don't want to privilege one part of the community over another. We don't want to make it about us, but we are leveraging our personal privilege and connections to connect and create. We don't want to enter the community like we are more special or knowledgeable than they are. But we bring skill sets and experiences that are useful for this specific situation. It's super complicated to navigate our own concerns and  those of the community. Everyone is communicative, and sensitiveness, and so gracious.After 2 1/2 hours of jamming we decide to craft Sunday as a space for some skill building and exchange, creative response and content creation. I chat with a singer poet in the lobby as Mica, Danny, and Steve do chalk art in the sidewalk. Danny and I leave for the poetry slam.

Ferguson Moment day one St. Louis Black Repertory theater

What a great conversation with Ron Himes and the cast of Purlie Victorious. Ron told us about the history of the St. Louis Black Repertory Theater, about serving on a delegation to Senegal, and his students theater (which we hope to see Sunday!). The cast joined us and gave their insight as locals. One actors husband had gone to Ferguson because he has family there and was jailed with a number of others who had done nothing. No Miranda, no files charged. Hmmm. The stage managers father is a policeman and she has some wonderful observations to share. One actor told us about viewing the recent shooting in St. Louis. The sound of the gun shots. Figuring out that the young man was the "cd boy". The group hums in recognition. The baby cried. Such a powerful conversation. I wish I could see their production.

Ferguson Moment Day 1 Sugar Fire

Filling up on pulled pork while catching up on last night's meeting of artists at RAC with Danny Bryck and getting great advice from Michael Rhode over the phone.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ferguson Moment Broken Plane

Flight on way to Ferguson had crack in window. The size of an arm! Seriously.  I'm all relaxed as our lives are in imminent danger and only stressed when the lady at the counter is throwing shade and not helping us reach our destination when we need to. After we landed safely and after some terrible customer service we got on another plane and flew safely and then we had some great customer service and now we are in a nice hotel with warm cookies. I'm so grateful to be traveling with someone.  It really makes everything easier. Traveling is hard on me and my body is super gimpy.  My friend said she is feeling the privilege of being able bodied. I am feeling the privilege of being able to fly on a plane and then ask for a fee hotel room when the plane almost implodes. Should be in St. Louis by lunch tomorrow.

Ashland Don't Shoot

Joined together with Oregon Shakespeare Festival actors, family members, staff and community members to show that some folks in a small town in Southern Oregon stand in solidarity with the community of Ferguson, MO. Taken by Jenny Graham on the grounds of Lithia Park right before Mica Cole and I left for Ferguson.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I am going to Ferguson

Step one.  decide to go.

First find partners
Then find support
Then name what we are doing

The Ferguson Moment

then download an app that allows you to make collage pictures

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Daedalus 2014 big success!

“In today's climate in our country, which is sickened with....the prominence of AIDS, riddled with burgeoning racism, rife with growing huddles of the homeless, we need art and we need art in all forms...."
-- Maya Angelou (excerpt)

August 15
So grateful to host our first Daedalus Film Festival Screening. Thank you HBO for the Normal Heart. Thank you Coming Attractions for the Varsity Theater. Thank you Ashland Independent Film Festival for your partnership. Thank you Daedalus project team for your curation, organizing, and boots on the ground hard work. Thank you Tim Rubel for sharing your experiences directing the play. Thank you audience for attending, expressing heartfelt emotion, and discerning takes on history. #endaids

August 19
My heart is still full from the HIV/AIDS fundraiser yesterday and the days before. It was so successful as entertainment and as as a fundraiser.  Kudos to Eduardo Placer for his vision, to Mandy and Donya for their organizational prowess, Miles to his graphic designing, to everyone involved in making the thing happen!  Hundreds and hundreds of people organizing, creating art, helping people worldwide. People running in the 5-K.  People making stuffed bears and bags from old Daedalus T-shirts. People selling lemonade.  People selling baked-goods.  People performing, making music, collaborating.   People in different countries and right next door all coming together for a good cause.  This is my center. I have been planning The Ferguson Moment for the past few days as well and I was feeling inadequate to the task. Not enough cultural competency, not enough money, not enough time...but there are already hundreds of people who are collaborating with us.... We are doing this! Cup of coffee, some more facebook browsing, and then back to work.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

...HOLD ON...WAIT FOR IT... episode 1

...HOLD ON...WAIT FOR IT...The first and probably not last of the podcast on topical topics and what not
Warning: podcast includes spoilers, swear words, and questionable humor
Topics include: Harry Potter, Magic, Facebook posts, Martin Luther King Jr Day, Googling things, Podcasting, Skyping, Instant Messaging, BuzzFeed, Game of Thrones, Real Estate, Gender, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Batman, Spoilers, Shakespeare, Poutine, Drake, Jack Frost, Sherlock, and the definition of TRUTH.

This episodes backing track was selected by googling the first topic discussed and the word beatboxing. Thanks to Travis Harton.