It was determined that in 2012 Mother Tongue Monologues needed to center around Black female sexuality and present Monologues For Black Girls and Stolen Women Reclaiming Our Bodies, Our Selves, Our Lives. In 2012 there needed to be an outcry against racism, against the erasure of our histories and contributions, against patriarchy and misogyny and against the killing of our bodies, our desires and our sense of joy.
The title as well as the performance pieces were intentionally selected to provide a space for protest on our terms as Black women. The show itself was brazenly promoted as being specifically for the purpose of education about sexual assault. Mother Tongue Monologue's 2012 Subject Matter was indeed partially In response to The challenges presented by the SlutWalk, a mainstream anti-rape protest, where many Black women found no space.
In crafting their own response to rape and sexual assault, Black Women's Blueprint brought together a cast renown poets, activists and actors offering inspiring accounts about Black women, girls and sexual identity, intimacy, consent, agency, pleasure, desire and the role of the erotic. They performed various notions of Black female sexuality from the "Jezebel", to the "Tragic Mulatto", the "Venus Hottentot" to the "Video Vixen". They spoke the words of Black feminists, womanists, sexual revolutionaries and shared the feats towards sexual liberation that have taken place since the middle passage. The performance unearthed the painful history of rape and sexual assault against Black women and girls in America, took us to the place where we can change the conversation and the dominant narrative, dared us to engage in more progressive Black sexual politics, define "sexual revolution" on our own terms, celebrate our bodies and our sexual selves.
"The right to make decisions about our bodies was primary. It was also important to claim the body as a site of pleasure power and possibility. We were making revolution. Our bodies were the occupied countries we liberated." Bell Hooks, Talking Sex.
Friday, February, 24, 2012 - 6:30PM Reception | 8PM Performance
The National Black Theatre of Harlem
2033 National Black Theatre Way (5th Ave & 125th St)
New York, NY 10035
Mother Tongue Monologues is Conceived and Edited by Farah Tanis, Transnational Feminist, Human Rights Activist, Co-Founder of Black Women's Blueprint.
Rha Goddess, Artist, Activist, Poet
Toni Blackman, Hip Hop Activist, Poet
Mother Tongue Monologues 2012
Lori Payne, Writer, Director, Activist
Lori Payne is a Writer, Director and Activist. After receiving a Bachelor's Degree from the University of New Orleans, Payne worked as a freelance writer in New Orleans, choosing to tell stories where arts and activism intersect. Her stage plays reflect her training in both journalism and the arts, and an understanding of things that make us human. Catherine Street follows Payne's comedic trilogy Ulterior Side Dishes, which was produced at the Nuyorican Poets Café in 2006. Ulterior Side Dishes was also produced as a radio drama by the WBAI host and journalist, Dred Scott-Keyes. Recent venues include the Strawberry One-Act Festival and The American Theatre of Harlem in 2005, and the Arthur Seleen Theatre in 2006. Lori is currently studying playwriting under the tutelage of Anthony 'Tee' Saralegui, dramaturge and author of the book Writing One Play. Lori Payne, now serves on the Board of Advisors of Black Women's Blueprint and its Truth Commission to End State Violence.
Original Pieces Written and Performed By:
Aishah Shahidah Simmons
(Photographer, Julie Yarbrough)
Aishah Shahidah Simmons is an award-winning African-American feminist lesbian independent documentary filmmaker, television and radio producer, published writer, international lecturer, and activist based in Philadelphia, PA. An incest and rape survivor, Aishah is the producer, writer, and director of NO! The Rape Documentary, which unveils the reality of rape, other forms of sexual violence, and healing in African-American communities. NO! also explores how rape is used as a weapon of homophobia. Since its world premiere in 2006, this award-winning, internationally acclaimed documentary been used as an educational organizing tool across North America, and in countries in South America and the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands. Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Color Purple says, “If the Black community in the Americas and in the world would save itself it must complete the work ‘NO!’ begins.” Aishah is presently in post-production on Liberation from Within about the first 10-day Vipassana Meditation course, as taught by S.N. Goenka, held in India in December 2009, for people of African heritage worldwide. Her writings on cinematic activism, gender-based violence, and queer identity from an AfroLez®femcentric perspective, and the impact of the intersections of race, gender, and sexual orientation on the lives of Black women are featured in several anthologies and journals. Aishah facilitates workshops, teaches classes, and lectures extensively throughout North America and internationally.
Safiya Ellis Bandele
Safiya Bandele is an Academician, Activist, Lecturer, mentor and movement builder. She recently retired after 34 years at Medgar Evers College CUNY. She is the founder and was the Director of The Center for Women's Development and under her leadership the Center forged relationships with a myriad of anti-violence, anti-poverty and immigrant organizations and leaders in the community. The mission of the Center for Women’s Development is to provide direct services, support and programming for women students by offering specialized services that support personal development, assisting students to address issues affecting self-actualization and quality of life, actively engaging the college, university and community in proactively addressing issues faced by women students, and promoting equal access to higher education through institutionalized support, including counseling, advocacy, referrals, and development and implementation of education forums and events. The Center also served as an institutional model for commitment to and active engagement with the community on family justice issues. In January 2011 Sister Safiya's "Readin n Riffin" performance at Daddy's Basement Bookstore inaugurated her series addressing (im)prisoned love and elderdiva sexuality. In March 2012 she will teach a (Free) Mini-Course) on the great Ida B. Wells Barnett at True South Bookstore in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Jasmine Burnett is an activist, writer consultant and is founder of Aunt Betty's Basement (https://www.facebook.com/
The words of black feminist writers touched Alexis Pauline Gumbs at an early age. She connected deeply with the theories of Audre Lorde, a Carribbean-American author and activist, and embodied Lorde’s revolutionary spirit in college and into graduate school at Duke University where she concentrated on English, Women’s Studies and African-American Studies. Gumbs now operates the School of Our Lorde, a series of educational sessions for the Durham community on politics, social change and feminist theory. Gumbs can also be heard as the host of a podcast and public access TV program called “Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind” and she is currently traveling the country in an R.V. that she calls her “revolutionary vehicle” collecting personal stories from black homosexual communities.
Urban Bush Women
Body Talk (2010)
Choreographer: Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
Music: "Ajeseke Jookin’/ Mysterious Fish" by Wynton Marsalis and Yacub Tetteh Addy, By arrangement with Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. o/b/o Wynton Marsalis Enterprises, Inc. (WME), d/b/a Skaynes Music, copyright owner
Dancer: Samantha Speis
Samantha Speis is a performer, choreographer, and teacher residing in the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn. Samantha attended Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and graduated with a BFA in Dance and Choreography. She has performed with Gesel Mason Performance Projects, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Pearson Widrig Dance Theater and Shani NwANDO IKERIOKA Collins (Eternal Works). In 2008, Speis joined the internationally acclaimed dance company, Urban Bush Women and toured as a member for four wonderful seasons. She is now working with Liz Lerman on a new work, Healing Wars, inspired by the Civil War and the innovation of medicine during war. In the fall of 2011 Speis embarked on a journey to Senegal, West Africa to inhabit, embody and learn from an array of diverse environments, experience the daily practice of life by different peoples and immerse herself in experiences related and unrelated to dance. While there she had the opportunity to perform her work and teach workshops in various communities. Her work has been featured at the Kennedy Center (Millennium Stage), Long Island University, Joyce SoHo, Hollins University, Danspace Project and Dance Place. She will be presenting her work at Danspace Project (Parallels Series) and Dixon Place (Under Exposed series) in the spring of 2012. Speis has been a guest artist and taught workshops throughout the US, South America, Senegal, Europe, as well as with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange studios, Florida State University, Towson State University, VCU, Tulane University and Dillard University. She is currently a guest at Dance New Amsterdam.
Meet The Cast
Nina Angela Mercer
Nina Angela Mercer is a multi genre writer and performing artist. She is the Executive Director of Ocean Ana Rising, Inc. – an arts education non profit organization (www.oarinc.org) based in New York City and Washington, D.C. Nina’s play GUTTA BEAUTIFUL was staged in Washington, D.C. at The Warehouse Theatre (2005) and The Woolly Mammoth Theatre for the Capital Fringe Festival (2006), and in New York City at Abrons Arts Center/Henry Street Settlement by AUDELCO award-winning Woodie King Jr’s New Federal Theatre Company (2007) and at Wings Theater in NYC for a stage reading (2008). GUTTA BEAUTIFUL was also staged in Trinidad by Griot Productions at The Little Carib Theatre in December 2011. Nina’s one woman performance piece, RACING MY GIRL, SALLY, was read at The First National Conference of Women of Color Writing Plays in Chicago in August of 2008, where she was also a panelist and Fellow. Nina’s choreopoem ITAGUA MEJI had a workshop productions at The Brecht Forum in February 2010, at Rutgers University-Newark (March 2010) and at the Alternate ROOTS Annual Meeting in Arden, North Carolina (August 2010). In May 2011, Nina’s play GYPSY & THE BULLY DOOR had a stage reading in “The Future Classics Reading Series” for The Classical Theatre of Harlem, and a workshop production at The Warehouse Theatre, during DC’s Capital Fringe Festival in July 2011. GYPSY & THE BULLY DOOR will have a stage reading at Howard Univeristy’s Ira Aldridge Theatre as part of H.U. Theatre Art’s “Roxie’s Swagg List” reading series in January 2012. Nina is also the co curator and co founder of the “Women on Wednesday Art & Culture Project (WoW)” with her creative partner, Ebony Noelle Golden. WoW combines a performance series with community art residencies in NYC to celebrate the artistic expressions of girls and women of the African Diaspora. Currently, Nina teaches at Medgar Evers College (CUNY) in Brooklyn, NY.
Dorcas Evelene is an award-winning, critically acclaimed playwright and performer. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Dorcas began performing at an early age, modeling for her first catalog at an adorable six months old. Her love for performance grew with every childhood recital and play, soon writing was added as passion. While at Bryn Mawr College, she had the opportunity to direct, produce and act - fueling her commitment to an artistic career. After graduation, Dorcas returned to New York to study with some of the industry's most esteemed teachers. Her stage work includes Anima (2006 NYC Fringe Festival); Limericks from an Undisclosed Location, The Colored Museum (ER Prod.) and ...Young Lady from Rwanda. Dorcas is currently performing her successful one-woman play, Unwritten at the legendary Symphony Space in NYC. Most recently, Dorcas won the IFNY Monlogue Slam Championship performing one of her original monologues. Her work, getting rave reviews from celebrity and industry judges. She is also the founder of multi-cultural entertainment, theater and educational company, SmilingDown Productions. Through SmilingDowns offering of community acting classes, Dorcas has had the opportunity to bring her passion and love of performance to generations of people. Look out for several projects from Dorcas in 2010, including two films, an original web-based series and more theater! As a professional performer, she is strengthened by the support of her loving family and friends.
Erin ‘EJ’ Serrano is an award winning ASCAP musician, singer, songwriter, poet and SAG actor. She’s worked with Heavy D, Willem Dafoe, Spike Lee, Angie Stone and others; working with Platinum selling producer/writer, Aaron 'Freedom' Lyles. EJ headlined the Apollo Theater's Kids for Rock Benefit Concert, and performed at the Central Park Summer Stage's Algarin's Mongo Affair, celebrating 30 years of Nuyorican poetry.
"I am a proud African, Cherokee Indian, & Puerto Rican woman whose roots run deep...from the depths of New Orleans, Ponce-Puerto Rico, to The South Bronx...I am a delightful etouffe of cultures all wrapped up in one-tiny-little-potent-package..." -EJ Serrano
As a performance artist, writer, educator, and life coach Piper Anderson has dedicated the last twelve years to holding space for community, peace, and power to manifest. From public schools, non-profits, to detention facilities, and Ivy League universities Piper Anderson is well known for her dynamic, inspiring, performances, workshops, and lectures. Piper’s performance work blends poetry, song, movement, storytelling, and video to create work that explores the experiences of women and their relationship to Spirit, healing, and power. In 1999 she premiered the Hip Hop performance work, BLACK GIRL SPEAK at Frontera Fest in Austin, TX. In 2006, she wrote and performed her second solo performance work IN HER MEMORY in honor of two family members lost to domestic violence. In 2001, Piper joined Blackout Arts Collective (BAC), a national organization committed to using the arts as a tool for social change in communities of color. Piper is a part-time faculty member at Gallatin School at New York City and a Company Member and Master Teaching-Artist with American Place Theatre, serving as an artist-in-residence in New York City schools and presenting venues nationally. As an author, Piper’s writings have been published in four books, How To Get Stupid White Men Out Of Office, Growing Up Girl: Voices From Marginalized Spaces, Conscious Women Rock the Page, and Love, Race & Liberation in addition to numerous journals and publications. Anderson majored in Community Studies with a minor in Theatre at The University of Texas-Austin before moving to New York City and transferring to The New School where she was a Riggio Writing Democracy Fellow and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. She also holds Master of Arts in Applied Theatre from CUNY-School of Professional Studies.
Kanene Ayo Holder
Kanene Ayo Holder is an educator and performance artist with grants from Franklin Furnace, Puffin Foundation, UAI/NYFA and others. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities focusing on Zora Neale Hurston, an artistic residency at Bard College’s Center for Media, Culture and Difference and The Colin Powell Center for Policy Study focusing on urban education reform. An excerpt of her thesis “Funds of Knowledge: Urban Education and Parental Involvement” is published in an education advocacy book by her former professor Dr. Blumenreich. Ms. Holder also performs and teaches via her theatrical experiment "Shock and Awe with a Political Aftertaste", highlighting the irony and lies of the media, the status quo and politics as fodder dissected and fed to an interactive audience/classroom to galvanize them into participants as cultural warriors. She has performed at venues including La Mama ETC, Aaron Davis Hall, Symphony Space and University of Granada-Spain. Ms Holder’s recent performance featured new works developed through her SITCHAASSDOWN Focus Group Tour called 400 Years of Rrrrrrr……at Brooklyn Museum. Kanene is proud to be from Brooklyn, attended Howard University and has occupied Harlem for 10 years. Kanene has been an active participant of Occupy Wall Street since late September, involved in the Public Relations, People of Color and Direct Action working groups. She has made numerous media appearances including BBC, CNN, NPR, NY1 Washington Watch and ABC 7. Kanene is currently working on the Love Thy Neighbor/Countdown for Economic Justice to highlight the inertia of our Department of Justice despite a 640 page bi-‐partisan investigation proving that the banks were engaging in fraudulent activity. Who does our government protect? Who
does our government serve? Find out more @ http://www.studiooccupy.org/#!/submit/lovethyneighbor
Tanika LaDawn Harbor
Tanika LaDawn Harbor is a Performance/Healing Artist, using voice, sound, body, characterization and laughter to question, transform, ignite and entertain, navigating this through: Poet/Writer, Blues Child, Actor/Director, Drag/Burlesque. She is Poetic-Justice, serving the community as a New York City Police Officer, whose passion is advocating/protecting victims of domestic violence/sexual assault and mentoring youth within the community. A proud Two-Spirited Detroit native, though the family roots lye in a small village/town in the Louisiana Bayou, she has been sharing/performing her work for over 10 years. After completing undergraduate work in Theater and Africana Studies, Tanika moved to NYC to pursue her MFA in Acting. Her writing/work is infused with notions of race, gender, sexuality, spirituality and growing up urban: turning love, lost, oppression and conflict into Art. Tanika has been seen in NYC performances that include, FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF, AUGUST IN APRIL, A TACK ON AN AMERICAN CONSCIENCE and a preview of her one-person show, entitled, MAKE ME WANNA' HOLLA.' You can catch Tanika on stage next at the WOW Cafe Theatre on March 2nd.
Erika Myers is a native of Greenville, NC. From a very young age, Erika has always had dreams of helping others and using her talents to give back to those in need. Erika received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology and a minor in Dramatic Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While there she served as Artistic Director for the Opeyo! Dance Company and was also active in the Lab! Theater Company, UNC’s oldest and most active student theater groups. After graduating from UNC, Erika moved to New York City to pursue a professional career in the arts. Since then, Erika has performed at several well-known New York City theaters and has received stellar reviews of her performances. She has also appeared in several award winning independent films and web series, most notably as series regular Dani Ulmer in 12 Steps to Recovery. In addition, she has appeared on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and several commercials. Through all of her performances, Erika has maintained her dream to help those in need. She consistently seeks roles that will "enlighten, inspire, and entertain her audiences."
Benita Lovett-Rivera is a single mom, human rights-education activist and graphic artist. Born in Harlem to the tabooed marriage between her interracial parents, she was reared in Bedford-Stuyvesant in the Civil Rights era and awakened into young womanhood during the Black Power movement and first wave of Feminism.Benita was an Open Society Community Fellow for "The New Vision," project, an East Harlem based creative literacy and entrepreneurial project she designed for young Latinas, and her work in support of changing public education policy has been featured in books, numerous reports and in an exhibit from 2009 - 2011 entitled "Courage: The Black Struggle for a Quality Education in NYC" at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture that she created on behalf of the Youth Researchers for a New Education System. Benita's activism has included memberships in the Parent Commission on School Governance and Mayoral Control, the Independent Commission on Public Education, Coalition for Public Education / Coalicíon por la Educacíon Pública, Coalition for Gender Equity in Schools and most recently, the Black Women's Blueprint. She is the founder and executive director of the Mothers' Agenda NY, aka "The MANY" — a growing human rights based, intergenerational women's and mothers grassroots group organizing to raise the civic voices of all women against oppressive policies, patriarchal controls and societal injustices; while simultaneously elevating the moral authority of motherhood within what she refers to as the "New Age of Community Feminism."
Claudia R. Walters
Claudia R. Walters is an artist, mentor and entrepreneur. A native of Chicago, Ms. Walters moved to New York about 4 years ago in search of more opportunities in the arts and in education. In addition to being a performer, she is an administrator in higher education who recently received a master’s in Educational Theatre from New York University. In July of 2011, she proudly founded an online community for professionals to assemble and share ideas about creativity, artisticresilience.org. She is honored to be a part of the Mother Tongue project and plans to spend her career exploring the resiliency of the human spirit.
Jamilla Reid is a feminist, Human and Civil Rights Activists,Poet and Photographer . Born and raised in Trinidad, she moved to New York two years ago where she has pursued her love for the art of photographer and her passion for Human Rights . Jamilla has worked with Global Kids where she was able to enhance her love for activism around issues such as women’s and children’s rights amongst others. While at Global Kids she was able to educate not only teens in New York but she was also able to attend United States Social Forum where she held a workshop for educators who came from around the United States on How to keep teens involved in issues that not only affect them but also teens globally. Apart from her work as an activist she was also a Youth Artist in Residence at the Studio Museum where she was given the opportunity to have an exhibition with several other teenagers.Jamilla joined Black Women’s Blueprint as an intern from Sadie Nash Leadership and has been active on the organization's Truth Commission To End State Violence ever since.
Dominic Bradley aka missTaKe
Dominic Bradley aka missTaKe is one of the Board of Advisors for Black Women's Blueprint. Dominic is a New York-based social worker, multimedia artist, and consultant whose focus is individual and collective transformation through Cultural Arts Direct Action. A long-time mental health advocate, Dominic also has turned his attention to the trauma field--most notably contributing to a federal publication on peer engagement among women who have experienced trauma. As a solo artist s/he wrote, produced, and directed an independent short film entitled Bloodlines that explored his use of art in processing and responding to violence. S/he recently joined Black Women's Blueprint and looks forward to additional opportunities for civic engagement. For more information about Dominic or to contact him, go to his website at www.misstakerevolutions.com
Tokunboh (Toki) Talabi is a Playwright, Actress, Poet and Human Services Practitioner. She most recently completed her Master’s in Human Services Counseling. Combining the passion for the art with a solid education, Tokunboh wants to use her talent and skills to bring a voice to those have been silenced and those who hurt. Understanding the experience of Black women particularly, Tokunboh hopes that her work serves to acknowledge, validate and heal Black women around the world. She is the grant recipient of the Harlem Arts Community Fund through the Harlem Arts Alliance. She will be premiering her life’s work, “The Evolution of the Unwritten Girls,” in April 2012. Tokunboh invites you
all to join her in her quest toward justice, empowerment, and healing.
Kayona Ebony Brown
Kayona Ebony Brown is an author, actress and entrepreneur from Washington, DC, owner of Brown’stone LC, which publishes her books and is the parent company to The Brown’stone Recording Company, a record label. Her debut novel Tenth Letter is available in paperback and everywhere electronic books are sold, and her sophomore book, One Word, is scheduled for a 2012 release. The TENTH LETTER is the mark of a new genre: self-help urban fiction. Through an intense story of sex, lies, and cheating, author Kayona Ebony Brown gently nudges the reader into considering classical therapeutic tactics of establishing successful relationships with family, sexual partners, and self. Brown’s vivid exploration of the urban landscape and the characters that color her streets pulls the reader into the grind that is the contemporary young adult and leaves them with a more polished definition of what it means to love.