On the first Tuesday of each month The News, presented by SOMArts Cultural Center, features new, queer work by Bay Area artists. The News is a monthly cabaret evening that spotlights 10-minute or less performance pieces, experiments, and works in progress by pre-selected solo artists, groups, or troupes.
On Tuesday, June 7, The News presents “Speaking Of…NIGGA.” a collected/collective conscious of Black Folk:
Beginning with the dance prayer and ritual of our ancestors, spirituality and identity have been PERFORMED. Why do Queer people of color find it necessary to perform our ethnic and sexual identities? How has being classified as marginalized amplified our performative bodies? Are we performing? and “IS ALL THAT REALLY NECESSARY!!!?”
— Daziè Grego-Sykes, curator, “Speaking Of…NIGGA”
Part of the 2016 National Queer Arts Festival, the evening is hosted & curated by Dazíe Grego-Sykes, with performances by Rotimi Agbabiaka, Jezebel Delilah X, Ramona Webb, Ngaire Young, and fine art by Derrick Miller-Handley.
Admission is FREE! SOMArts is offering free admission in hopes that if you can afford to donate, you will support the artists onstage when the hat passes. RSVP on EventBrite to guarantee a seat.
The nature of The News is to give artists access to critical space for risk-taking in performance. Artists interested in performing as a “wild card” at The News in the future can find more information here.
Daziè Grego-Sykes is a poet, performance artist and activist. Dazié’s performance work and style was developed at The Experimental Performance Institute at New College San Francisco where he received his BA in Queer Performance and Activism. He has developed and produced several solo plays including 3, Where Is Adam and I AM A MAN.Currently Dazié is studying to receive his MFA in Creative Inquiry at The California Institute of Integral Studies.
“My process begins with resistance. This “resistance” was created when I discovered the world was not prepared for me to express and exist as my authentic self. As a child, my imagination created a new world and new belief systems. From this came a communication style that has been called “art.” Interacting with “performance” as “art” allows me to create and manipulate perception. My work suggests and indicates alternative belief systems that are sustainable and empowering.
Rotimi Agbabiaka is an actor, singer, writer, director and teaching artist. He is most recently appeared in Sojourners (Disciple) and runboyrun (boy) with Magic Theatre, Hair (Hud) with Bay Area Musicals, Holiday High Jinx (Dancing Dan) with Word for Word, Choir Boy (Junior) at Marin Theatre Company, The Amen Corner (David) with Alter Theater, We Are Proud To Present … (Another Black Man) at Just Theater, and Raisin in The Sun (Asagai) at Cal Shakes. He is a collective member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, a former cast member at Beach Blanket Babylon, and his solo play, Homeless, won Best Solo Performance at the SF Fringe Festival. Mr. Agbabiaka also teaches youth theatre with the SF Mime Troupe, SF Shakes, and Each One Reach One. He has directed for the SF One Minute Play Festival, writes articles for Theatre Bay Area magazine and has performed drag (as Miss Cleo Patois) at Club Something and Hard French. He studied at Moscow Art Theatre and earned his MFA from Northern Illinois University.
Jezebel Delilah X is a queer, lush-bodied, Black, femme performance artist, writer, actress, filmmaker, educator, facilitator, orator and Faerie Princess Mermaid Gangsta for The Revolution. She loves to flirt, laugh, perform, crack corny jokes, and insert Octavia Butler references into every conversation. She is a Co-Managing Editor for Everyday Feminism; co-host of the queer/feminist Open Mic, Culture Fuck; Creative Director of queer, Black, multi-disciplinary performance troupe, Congregation of Liberation; and one of the founding members of Deviant Type Press. She has performed in a wide variety of Queer and Queer People Of Color theatre projects and cabarets, and has been a featured reader at literary events all over the Bay Area. She uses a combination of memoir, poetry, theatre, and feminist storytelling to advance her politix of radical love, socioeconomic justice, anti-racism, community accountability, critical reflection, love, healing, and liberation. She loves romantic songs, romantic films, romantic books, romantic conversations, romantic friendships, and writing long, vulnerable, passionate facebook statuses about romance.
Teaching performance artist and activist Ramona “Mona” Webb serves as the Executive Director of the Eden LGBTQ Youth Foundation. Mona Webb also serves as Artistic Director of Project ABLE and Lyrical Minded415, which is an Art Based Learning for Equity seasonal course implemented in various San Francisco Bay Area school districts. For nine years Mona has served as Slammaster and Host of San Francisco’s The City Poetry Slam.
Webb served on the host city committee that produced the National Poetry Slam Festival in Oakland in 2014 and 2015.
Mona is a conservatory trained artist who writes and performs in “docu-ritual- drama theater and is currently a graduate student at CIIS in San Francisco and Chichester University in London perusing dual MFA degrees’s in Theater Performance Making. “How to Catch a Rapist in 12 Parts”, her current work in progress has recently appeared at Piano Fight Theater and Brava Theater in San Francisco. This performance theater piece chronicles the artist’s journey to seeking justice for her rape that took place 20 years ago. Webb also serves as the Director of the production of The State of Black Bodies by The Pr3ss Play Poets. Ramona seeks to create new platforms for all avenues of artistic expression in all that she produces.
Ngaire Young, a Florida native, began her artistic journey through various musical collaborations 15 years ago. Ngaire’s voice has been described as achingly sweet. Her poignant, personal lyrics portray both vulnerability and strength, insecurity and love. All of this adds up to an intimate musical experience that Ngaire hopes will resonate with listeners mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Ngaire is a lover & a fighter. She values creating space for all of us to connect back to ourselves, nature and back to each other.
Derrick Miller-Handley (Please note: Derrick will not be present; we will be showing a series of images he has created.) Derrick believes in the power of affirming human experience and our relationships with the world around us through creative endeavors and community enterprise—to ultimately define our world on our terms. Most recently, Derrick has worked at the intersection of arts and youth development, creating public art works in partnership with LGBTQ youth in New York and San Francisco that explore themes of health, gender, race and community. Derrick is a recent graduate of Pratt Institute and currently works as a visual designer in New York. His work has been featured in Celebrate! San Francisco, posterland.org, NYCxDesign, NY1 News, and Amazon Fashion.
Photo credits: Derrik Miller-Handley; Rotimi Agbabiaka by Aleksander Dragicevic; Jezebel Delilah X, Ramona Webb, and Ngaire Young all courtesy of the artists.