I AM PROUD TO SAY THAT I AM A 2016 CREATIVE CAPITAL ARTIST!!
The project that I received support for is:
dat Black Mermaid Man Lady
Tiny House Community Building Soul Serenade. dat Black Mermaid Man Lady literally creates and leaves space in neighborhoods where space is being taken away. A tiny house, built for the project, serves as a catalyst for dat Black Mermaid Man Lady Oracle Card readings, neighborhood parties, resource fairs, workshops, story circles, public dialogues and processionals. Lead by a queer bodied lesbian of African descent, this project leans into the talents, expertise and self-determination of the people it serves. Processionals call forward and celebrate community – transgressively breaking open and dismantling stagnant constructs of boundaries. After the project ends, the tiny house remains – a gift from the community – for an emerging artist of color.
Website and more sooncome…meanwhile/here is a little about the Project…
dat Black Mermaid Man Lady is supported by Creative Capital, The Whitman Institute, IDEX and New Dramatists PlayTime and Creativity Fund.
dat Black Mermaid Man Lady
by Sharon Bridgforth
The goal of this project is to offer art as a transformational tool.
To honor Black women as leaders. To celebrate queer bodies. To document the lives of LGBT families of color.
To venerate Ancestors of African descent
and their legacies of peace & Spiritual practices.
To assert that traditions of Black art innovations
offer valuable contributions to the world.
To bring people from different backgrounds and life experiences together to participate in a collective, improvisational experience.
To build lasting, strong connections in communities through Black American practices centered in communal presence/feeling & Witnessing. In addition to dat Black Mermaid Man Lady: Tiny House Community Building Soul Serenade – the project lives in the following ways:
dat Black Mermaid Man Lady
The Show. This work celebrates multiple ways of embodying gender, and Spirit. HoneyPot, Miss Kitty and dat Black Mermaid Man Lady work with Oya, Osun and Olokun (Yoruba deities) to train in a next generation healer, as they lift communal prayers to the Light. In performance, all present are invited to make offerings to this world of womanizing, piano playing, knife carrying she’roes and old people that fly. By the end of the piece we discover that the narrator is the next generation healer, and that herhe has been conjuring their existence into being through the telling of dat Black Mermaid Man Lady. Performers sing, dance, tell stories, call the audience to process, chant, holler back, build altars – celebrate life. All present are responsible for the Journey.
dem Black Mermaid Man Lady
Oracle Deck. This is a Yemonja (Yoruba Ocean Deity) inspired deck. In the spirit of the sacred stories of the Orisha (Yoruba Divine Forces of Nature) known as patakis (pronounced: pah-tah-KEES) – dat Black Mermaid Man Lady Oracle Cards give space for characters from dat Black Mermaid Man Lady performance script to offer their gifts, knowings, and stories. The deck is made of nine characters from the script. Each character speaks to four life issues. What they speak – is text excerpted from the performance script. As an Ocean inspired deck dat Black Mermaid Man Lady Oracle Cards bring what is below the surface to Light.
dem Black Mermaid Man Lady
Performance Installation. Performed by Sharon Bridgforth and her daughter, Sonja Perryman, this work is made of stories, songs, and dat Black Mermaid Man Lady Oracle readings. Sonja sings as she moves with the audience through and to Stations installed in the environment that is the world of the piece: The Mourning Station; The Juke Joint Station; The Cooking Station; The Ritual Station; The Cross Roads Station; The Resting Station; The Reflection Station.
At each station Sonja shares a story and
engages audience members in activities at and to the next station. Periodically Sharon invites audience members that want a dat Black Mermaid Man Lady Oracle reading to come forward. At the end of the experience Sharon “seats” Sonja in her chair and leaves the room. Sonja then offers an Oracle reading, thus standing fully in her own authority as Seer/Artist/Leader/Family Story Keeper.
When Black Mermaids Fly
A Childrens Book. Featuring stories from dat Black Mermaid Man Lady Performance Installation.
dat Mermaid Project Team
Sharon Bridgforth – Writer/Lead Artist/Producer
Born in 1958, Sharon was raised by African American Southerners who migrated to Los Angeles looking for a better life. Their longing for home was steeped in their determination to celebrate and elevate life. A Black girl coming of age during assassinations, riots, the Black Power Movement and Soul Music – Bridgforth strives to model the unbending dignity, commitment to community, self-determination and love of Black cultures that was modeled for her. A resident playwright at New Dramatists, Sharon has been a touring artist since 1993. A writer working in the theatrical jazz aesthetic, Sharon collaborates with actors, dancers, singers and audiences live during performance as she composes moving installations of her non-linear texts. She is the RedBone Press author of love conjure/blues and the Lambda Literary Award-winning the bull-jean stories. Her performance script delta dandi, is published in solo/black/woman, Northwestern University Press. Sharon, Omi Osun Joni L. Jones and Lisa L. Moore are co-editors of Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic: Art, Activism, Academia, and the Austin Project, University of Texas Press. Sharon is one of the subjects in Omi Osun Joni L. Jones’s Theatrical Jazz: Performance, Àṣẹ, and the Power of the Present Moment, The Ohio State Press, 2015. Sharon’s Finding Voice Course is available virtually through Baladé Black. For more go to: sharonbridgforth.com.
Sonja Perryman – Artist/Collaborator
Sonja fell in love with theater at a young age, and graduated with honors from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in drama. She has performed in numerous critically acclaimed theater productions throughout New York City, in venues such as: BAM, La Mama, Soho Rep, Joe’s Pub and New World Stages. Sonja has starred in over fifteen national commercials and numerous independent films and industrials. After working as an actress and teaching artist for almost ten years, Sonja felt a call to do more to improve the health and well being of youth in her community. Her work as a bilingual youth and family community health educator in South Los Angeles solidified her interest to pursue a Masters of Public Health. She is a recent graduate of UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, where she holds a Masters of Public Health from the Department of Community Health Sciences. During her time at UCLA, she organized several campus-wide events that examined the power of storytelling to raise awareness around mass incarceration and juvenile justice issues. She is interested in a continual exploration of the intersection of the arts and public health to uplift and heal.
Omi Osun Joni L. Jones – Community Coordinator
Jones is an artist/scholar and an Associate Professor in the African and African Diaspora Studies Department at the University of Texas at Austin. Jones’s scholarship focuses on performance ethnography, theatrical jazz, Yoruba-based aesthetics, Black Feminisms, and activist theatre. Her recent performances include sista docta, Falling (in Love and War), and Gathering Honey. She is a member of the Urban Future Network and Body Politic Think Tanks at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, and is co-editor with Lisa Moore and Sharon Bridgforth of Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic: Art, Activism, Academia, and the Austin Project (University of Texas Press, 2010). Jones’s forthcoming collaborative ethnography, Theatrical Jazz: Performance, Ase, and the Power of the Present Moment (Ohio State University Press), will be available in the spring of 2015.
Kyla Searle – Producer/Dramaturge
Searle is an artist and activist. Recent projects include her own FALL (In Love and War), Daniel Alexander Jones’ An Integrator’s Manual (dramaturge), Sharon Bridgforth’s Dat Black Mermaid Man Lady (dramaturge), and preliminary research for Anna Deavere Smith’s The Pipeline Project. Kyla’s work has been developed by the Astrea Foundation, the Institute for Theatre in the Jazz Aesthetic, the Hemispheric Institute (EmergeNYC), the Institute for the Arts and Civic Dialogue, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and New York University. Kyla holds degrees from UCLA and NYU and lives in New York City.
Molly Van Avery – Producer/MLPS Project Manager
Molly Van Avery is the Artist and Community Coordinator at Pillsbury House Theatre where she works to weave the arts into the fabric of the surrounding low- income, diverse neighborhoods. In addition to her arts-based community organizing, Molly is the founder of Poetry For People and creates events and projects that embed poetry into the daily life and landscape of her neighborhood. Molly also teaches the course Making Media, Making Change for HECUA, an organization that provides experiential, interdisciplinary, off-campus social justice courses for college students. She is passionate about equipping individual artists with the tools and networks they need to help their work thrive and has produced several large-scale, artist driven events throughout Minneapolis. Molly is the recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, the Jerome Travel and Study Grant, and several other awards and has made performance work at venues throughout Minneapolis including Bedlam Theatre, Open Eye Figure Theatre, and the Walker Art Center.