Eleven Reflections on September
- Theater Arts
Posted May 14, 2015Dear Friends & Supporters,
I should have written to you long ago! As you may know from social media, I've been in NYC since mid-April, with the New York premiere of "Eleven Reflections on September" at the historic La Mama Experimental Theatre. We're having a wonderful run, with 4 more shows to go, tonight thru Sunday afternoon!
IF YOU ARE IN NYC, PLEASE JOIN US!!!
... I never forget that this work would not have been possible without you. And if you haven't yet had the opportunity to see it live, I really hope you will. And if you're not in New York this week, but have friends or colleagues in the city, please tell them about the show, with a personal note about why you supported it in the first place, and encourage them to attend.
I have to tell you, we have an extraordinary ensemble of women artists in this production. It's the biggest and the best to date, with three incredibly skilled musicians -- Aida Shahghasemi who's been with the project since 2011, violinist Eylem Basaldi, and percussionist Natalia Perlaza. We also have new choreography by the fabulous fusion dance artist, Donna Mejia (joining us this Saturday & Sunday). It's an honor and a joy to perform with this phenomenal cast. And Pramila Vasudevan's gorgeous & poignant media design is still a profoundly moving part of the experience.
The press release is attached, and ticket information can be found here: http://lamama.org/eleven-reflections-on-september
We've also received a wonderful review from FEN Magazine, describing our work as "thought-provoking" "breathtaking" and "captivating"! Followed by a wonderful interview: http://fenmag.tumblr.com/post/118789608025/6qs-with-writer-director-performer-andrea-assaf
... More updates coming soon. In the meantime, I hope to see you & friends in NYC this weekend!
In Peace & Solidarity,
Posted March 12, 2014Hello, Art2Action Friends & Supporters!
I am writing with a fun update, and a request for your support once again. I'm going to SPLIT THIS ROCK, the the nation’s premier social justice focused poetry festival, this year! Along with poets Amir Rabiyah and Janine Mogannam, I've been invited to perform in a group reading, and participatory workshop.
"Struggle, Resilience & Transformation:
Queer Arabs in the Diaspora"
@ Human Rights Campaign, Room 2,
2 PM, March 29th.
In addition to performing our poetry, we are committed to facilitating inclusive dialogue, fostering creativity, and holding an affirming space for people living on the intersections of race, class, disabilities, gender, sexuality, war, and immigration.
But WE NEED YOU to help us get there! Art2Action is sponsoring an IndieGoGo campaign to support travel costs, housing in DC, festival registration fees, and if we can meet our goal, modest artist stipends and per diem for the poets.
WE HAVE ONLY 10 DAYS LEFT to meet our $5000 goal! If each of you, Art2Action's donors, gave $50 we'd be there. But even if you don't have that much, maybe you could get a few friends who might care about poetry to help? Every contribution counts, no matter how small. But I must say, these perks are AWESOME!!! Please check it out: digital chapbooks, private poetry lessons, an original print, MP4 poetry, and more! So spread the word -- Help Queer Arab Poets Go To Washington!
As always, I appreciate your support, in all ways, deeply.
Posted December 28, 2013
Hello dear friends & supporters!
Season's Greetings to all. I hope this message finds you well & in good spirits. As 2013 draws to a close, Art2Action is looking ahead to a fantastic new year, and coming 2014-15 season! Awesome news is soon to be released, in January, so stay tuned ...
In the meantime, I am very excited to announce that we now have confirmed dates for the New York premiere of "Eleven Reflections on September" next season (Spring 2015)! It's a 3-week run, so please mark your calendars, I'd love to see you all there:
April 30-May 17, 2015
@ La MaMa ETC, First Floor Theatre
co-presented with Hi-ARTS
It's going to be a tremendous project, with lots of associated events, uptown and downtown. I'll be sharing more info as plans evolve ...
As we gear up for new programs, organizational growth, touring and more, there's still time to support Art2Action's coming year by making a TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATION this year! Please visit our cool NEW WEBSITE, and if you have any end-of-year funds to spare, just click the DONATE button to contribute. Or tell your friends, donating to contemporary performance & progressive change is easy!
You're the folks who have been with us from the start -- from our first Art2Action production with Pangea World Theater -- and we owe our growth and successes to you. I am grateful for each of you, in my life and in the world, and I wish you a truly wonderful new year ...
Posted October 21, 2013Copyright: The Carpetbag Theatre, Inc.Dear Friends & Supporters,
It's been a long time since I've sent you an update here. It's Fall once again. And yes, my work on issues related to war continues.
Art2Action just finished hosting a residency of The Carpetbag Theatre Inc., in Tampa, FL in collaboration with USF. It was an incredible 10 days of working with veterans, students, and community members ... as well as the fantastically talented cast of "Speed Killed My Cousin." Please visit the Alternate ROOTS website ("What's New" blog section) for recent articles about the residency by actress Carmin Williams, Veteran & Peer Leader Cheldyn Donovan, playwright Linda Parris-Bailey and me:
This residency helped us prepare for our next tour of "Speed Killed My Cousin." Just after Veterans Day, we're headed to New Orleans for a week of community work with Junebug Productions, followed by 4 performances at the Ashe Cultural Center, November 21-24. I hope those of you who contributed to "Speed" will get a chance to see the show, and the incredible impact of your support.
Also, stay tuned for updates about performances of "Eleven Reflections on September" next season. I'll be in New York for few days this Fall to meet with LaMama ETC and Hi-ARTS (Hip Hop Theatre Festival) to plan for the 2014-15 NYC production. We're planning a 3-week run!
As the so-called "Arab Spring" rages on, and political debates over military intervention resurface, and more and more U.S. soldiers return from the traumas of war, this work -- which Linda Parris-Bailey calls "Creative Arts Reintegration" -- continues to be vitally important. I recently had a conversation with a 3-star military general, who told me that we won't fully see the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars until 2030. It is far from over, my friends.
Thank you for all your continued support.
In Peace & Solidarity,
Posted September 30, 2012Dear Friends ...
Today is the last day of September. 2012. You, who supported "Eleven Reflections" know something about what September evokes for me. I am again working on issues of war...
I am currently directing Carpetbag Theatre's "Speed Killed My Cousin" by Linda Parris-Bailey. I'm in Tennessee right now, in residence with CBT. I am truly honored to be working with Linda's brilliant and moving script, about an African American woman combat soldier who returns from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder, and is battling the impulse to commit suicide. Though this piece looks at the war from a very different viewpoint, it is very much a project of truth-telling...
Carpetbag Theatre is raising money for this production, which opens the Network of Ensemble Theatres (NET) Micro-Fest in Knoxville, TN on October 25th. If you can, please contribute to their fundraising campaign -- it will help me realize my vision for this production, and will go directly to paying the amazing artists in this ensemble. If you've already contributed, please find a friend or group of friends to MATCH or DOUBLE your contribution. We need you to bring this incredible work to fruition ...
DONATE @ www.indiegogo.com/speedkilledmycousin
... Thank you, in advance, for anything you can do! ...
In "Eleven Reflections" updates, I've just received news that the complete translation into Polish will soon be finished! And MIZNA, the Arab American Literary Journal, is going to publish 3 of the series in their next issue! ...
More soon ... in Peace & Solidarity ... Andrea
Posted July 04, 2012Dear Friends ...
What are you doing for July 4th? U.S.A. Today just publicized that Afghanistan is "America's new longest war," surpassing Vietnam. And I would add, equally unjust ... Today is the last day of fundraising for Carpetbag Theatre's new play, SPEED KILLED MY COUSIN, about an African American woman soldier who returns from combat with PTSD. My anti-war work continues as the director of this extraordinary new play, written by Linda Parris-Bailey, with fantastic original music and media design ... Friends and supporters, please contribute to this work if you can. It premieres in October at the Network of Ensemble Theaters Micro-Fest in Knoxville, TN, and will later tour to New Orleans, Tampa and beyond. Your support will help us realize the full artistic vision of this timely and powerful project. TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO DONATE! Please give what you can ... PEACE.
Posted June 06, 2012Credits: Design by Steve DurlandCopyright: Art2Action Inc.
Dear Friends & Supporters ...
I have wonderful updates to share! As well as another request for support for an amazing new play, by Linda Parris-Bailey and Carpetbag Theater, which I have the honor of directing this Fall: www.indiegogo.com/speed ...
First, some updates on my current work: THANK YOU ALL who contributed to OUTSIDE THE CIRCLE, by Samuel Valdez and me, directed by Dora Arreola. We had a fabulous premiere in Minneapolis, thanks to Pangea World Theater, with Teatro del Pueblo and Intermedia Arts. We then toured to El Centro Su Teatro in Denver, and are preparing for our next 2-week run in San Antonio, with the Esperanza Center for Justice & Peace at Jump-Start Performance Co., June 29-July 8. Come see the show if you can!! We're also returning to the Twin Cities in November, for Pangea's LGBTIQ Theater Festival! I'll be posting video clips and updates soon, so stay tuned! ...
And the most exciting news of the Spring: ELEVEN REFLECTIONS ON SEPTEMBER will be going to New York City in 2014!! I can't give away all the details yet, but wanted our supporters to be the first to know! We are SO EXCITED for a NYC premiere, and will definitely keep you informed ...
See this gorgeous image of "Summer Rain" on the updates page, designed by Steven Durland? It's now a POSTER that you can purchase to support Art2Action! 18X24" Limited Edition -- please contact me if you would like to buy one! Also, we still have CDS -- which will soon be played on New York's WBAI Radio Tahrir -- and are for sale or download at: www.cdbaby.com/cd/andreaassaf ...
Now here's where I need to ask for your support once again: I am thrilled to be directing an incredibly poignant and important new multi-media play, SPEED KILLED MY COUSIN, by Linda Parris-Bailey. It's about an African American woman soldier who returns from Iraq with PTSD, and struggles with the impulse to commit suicide. In 2011, the army reported that more U.S. soldiers died from suicide than in combat. This is a staggering reality that we must face as a nation. SPEED looks closely and honestly at the affects of war on women, people of color, and veterans. I can't express how significant this work is. And how beautiful the script is. You'll just have to see it ... But in order to see it, Carpetbag Theatre needs YOUR SUPPORT. They have to raise $5000 for the final production, which will premiere at the Network of Ensemble Theater's Appalachia MicroFest in October. PLEASE CONTRIBUTE, if you can, to their IndieGogo fundraising campaign, now through JULY 4. I can't think of a better way to honor Independence Day.
THANK YOU for all you do, and all the visions you turn into reality ...
Posted February 17, 2012Dear Friends,
I am eternally grateful for your contributions to ELEVEN REFLECTIONS ON SEPTEMBER, and I need your support once again. My collaborator, Samuel Valdez, is currently fundraising through USA Projects for my our new play, OUTSIDE THE CIRCLE, a very different and special project about sexuality and (dis)ability. Please visit Samuel's page to see a short video, learn about the work, and consider making a contribution, if you can:
In addition to announcing this new project, I am excited to share some updates on ELEVEN REFLECTIONS. I was remiss in not posting event info for our last production, at the Straz Center for Performing Arts, in Tampa FL! This was a particularly important presentation, because it was concurrent with the National Performance Network (NPN) annual meeting, where we also showcased for theaters and presenters from around the country. Here are just a few photos from this new version, featuring Pramila Vasudevan on-stage as a dancer/choreographer and Aida Shahghasemi performing with me. It was a beautiful, powerful combination, captured here by James Geiger's wonderful photography.
NPN participants and audience members in Tampa were very moved by ELEVEN REFLECTIONS, and it certainly generated interest for further touring. I'm currently in conversation with theaters in NYC, New England, Mexico, Lebanon, and other regions ... I will keep you all posted if we have more shows next season!
Also, we still have lots of CDs available -- full of extraordinary music by Aida Shahghasemi, Salah Abdel Fattah and Tim O'Keefe, along with my poetry. All CD purchases directly support the creation of new work and touring! You can now download the music digitally on iTunes (yay!), or purchase the full CD at: www.cdbaby.com/cd/andreaassaf
Thank you all again, for all your support of my artistic work. YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS made it possible to realize Eleven Reflections to its fullest potential. Please consider also contributing to my newest work -- OUTSIDE THE CIRCLE -- if you can. Your donations help make creative visions real.
In Peace and Solidarity,
Posted October 04, 2011THIS WEEK!
"Eleven Reflections on September" at Carpetbag Theatre, in Knoxville, TN!
Thursday, 10/6 @ 8 PM
Saturday, 10/8 @ 8 PM
Sunday, 10/9 @ 3 PM
With special guest musician, Carlton "Starr" Releford on percussion!
Story Circle dialogues will be held after every performance, facilitated by Carpetbag Theatre.
Also, Steve Durland's visual art will be on display in the gallery at the Emporium Center for Art & Culture!
For more information, visit: http://www.carpetbagtheatre.org (Calendar)
Please help spread the word to folks in the region!
Posted September 11, 2011OFFICIAL RELEASE:
The original cast recording of "Eleven Reflections on September" by Andrea Assaf, featuring Aida Shahghasemi, Salah Fattah & Tim O'Keefe, engineered by Owen Henry & Keegan Fraley, is now available for digital download. Recorded at Pangea World Theater, April 2011. CD produced by Art2Action Inc.
In memory of all lives lost and ruined on 9/11, and in the 10 years of war and violence since.
Posted September 11, 2011Dear Friends and Supporters,
I hope you all had a wonderful summer...
I'm writing to you now, on the eve of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Actually, it is midnight on the East Coast, only nine hours before ... I don't quite have words for the coming day, at least not prose ... just all the things I've been trying to say, through poetry, and all the things yet unsaid ... Ten years later, and we are still at war. Ten years later, and I wonder what the U.S. has learned. Ten years and counting ... and I wonder what our collective future will bring.
I was traveling much of the summer, and have not sent updates in a long time, but do have important news to share tonight.
CD RELEASE -
First, I'm pleased to announce that sound designers Owen Henry & Keegan Fraley finished mastering the CD, the original cast recording, of "Eleven Reflections on September." Their work, and the work of all the musicians and collaborating artists, is fabulous, and I can't wait to share it with you all. In keeping with the themes and goals of this project, I've chosen to release the digital recordings on Sunday, September 11, 2011. The digital downloads will go live shortly on CD Baby, the Art2Action Facebook page, and soon after ITunes and many more. I will send you all the links as soon as they're live. Please share them with as many people as you can on September 11, and in the coming days ...
Hard-copy CDs are still being replicated, and will be available a little later in September. For those of you who contributed $101 or more, you'll get in the mail this month -- IF I have your address! Please make sure you've added it to your USA account information, or send it to me via email. Posters & T-Shirts will be available also, so if you'd rather have that, or didn't get tix and would like a poster or shirt in addition to your CD, please let me know!
Also, Art2Action Inc. is now officially a 501c3 organization. So if you wanted to contribute more to "Eleven Reflections" -- to support the touring of this work to Tennessee, Florida, Poland, Lebanon, and more -- you can now, by making a contribution to Art2Action, or purchasing CDs in support of the project.
And for the 10th anniversary ... Please take care of yourselves, and dedicate this day to spreading love, tolerance, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, education, remembrance for all the people who've died and suffered in the aftermath, and of course ...
Posted May 24, 2011The official ELEVEN REFLECTIONS ON SEPTEMBER promotional video is now on-line! And you, the supporters of this work, are among the first to see it! Got 6 minutes? Visit the showcase page, right here on United States Artists:
MORE GOOD NEWS! The 2011-12 ELEVEN REFLECTIONS Tour is developing, so if you didn't get to see the show in Minneapolis, you may be able to see it on the road! We now have our first two confirmed tour sites for the Fall:
Carpetbag Theater in Knoxville, TN - late September / early October
Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, FL - December 8-11, concurrent with the National Performance Network (NPN) Annual Meeting!
Details coming soon ...
Even more EXCITING news: Sound designers Owen Henry and Keegan Fraley are hard at work in post-production on the ELEVEN REFLECTIONS CD! The drafts already sound fantastic, and I can't wait to share the final version! It's more than documentation ... it's art. Please be patient though, post-production and duplication take time ... The CD will be released by September, if not before. Stay tuned!
And speaking of art, the images above are poster and T-shirt designs by the fabulous Sinem Sinan Goknur, made especially for ELEVEN REFLECTIONS, using excerpts of the text. Want one?
If you donated $101 or more, you get your choice of two thank-you gifts:
tickets to the show, a poster, a t-shirt, or a CD!
BUT YOU HAVE TO TELL ANDREA WHAT YOU WANT, AND SEND YOUR MAILING ADDRESS. You can send a personal message through the USA site, or Facebook or email ... but please send it this week!
Anyone out there want to increase your donation? YOU CAN! Donations for re-mount rehearsals and touring can be made directly to Art2Action, Inc. (501c3 application still in process...) OR, if you'd like to purchase a poster, or pre-order a T-shirt or CD, you can do that, too! Just contact Andrea.
Thank you again for ALL YOUR AMAZING SUPPORT! It's been an absolutely blessed and inspiring experience. And there's more to come ... I hope you enjoy the video sample ... Please post a COMMENT with your reactions and thoughts! I hope to see you at the theater, in your town, soon!
Posted May 10, 2011Greetings, all!
Eleven Reflections on September had a fantastic run at Pangea World Theater! It was an intense, bold, beautiful, fulfilling two weeks of performances, gallery exhibits, dialogues and panels. PHOTOS above (you're the first to see them)!! This is the work you all helped make possible ... And here are a few things audience members had to say about their experience (from survey forms, Facebook, and the Gallery guest book):
"Very powerful. The images and words and music supported each other and spoke so clearly and strong."
"Great work. Inspirational."
"Thank you for your passion-It awakens me."
"The performance and the discussion tonight made me see that 'Where were you on 9/ll?' is really the wrong question to ask: Where was I after 9/11? Where have I been?"
"Profound work. Brings the gruesomeness of war into reality. Stimulates me to be more vocal about my concerns about our militarism and foreign policy...Thank you." - Elizabeth Heefner
"Powerful show -- very timely. Resonates strongly with what is happening in the world." - Dr. Ragui Assad
“Pramila Vasudevan and Andrea Assaf kicked ass in their production! Fantastic job.”
- Dr. Ananya Chatterjea, Artistic Director, Ananya Dance Theater
“Just came home from the most amazing performance called Eleven Reflections on September at Pangea World Theater in Minneapolis. If you have a chance to see this, DO! … [Andrea Assaf’s] performance was amazing! Seriously a must see! I'm going again…and I’m taking my son.” - Suzanne the Magician
“Tonight was unbelievable--Eleven Reflections on September is a must see!!! Thank you, Andrea Assaf, for reminding us and inspiring us to speak for peace and justice … Thank you for creating a magical night!” – Nimo Farah, African Community Development Center
"INCREDIBLE show!! I haven't yet found the words for what you have created, Andrea Assaf… Witness this, experience this. Please, do yourselves the favor.” - Irna Landrum, University of Minnesota
... And there are many more voices. There were many deep discussions. Many people asked, each night, if more audiences will get to experience this work. A tour is in the making ... Supporters, please help spread the word so that we can bring it to your community!
If you saw the show at Pangea, and haven't given feedback yet, please post a COMMENT here, on United States Artists! See the comment section above, I'd love to hear from you!!
Posters, T-shirts and CDs will be available soon!! Donors who contributed $101 or more -- you get your pick. Please update your profile with your mailing address so I can send you all your THANK-YOUs!! More info coming soon ...
And THANK YOU AGAIN for all your support, for helping make work that matters.
Posted April 27, 2011What an extraordinary week it's been!!
ELEVEN REFLECTIONS ON SEPTEMBER opened on Thursday, April 21, at Pangea World Theater! We had a strong and inspiring first weekend, and all of us are very excited about this coming weekend of performances. The artistic team has come together so beautifully, and the work of all the collaborators is absolutely gorgeous. I feel endlessly honored and thankful to be working with such an amazing team.
You can hear an excerpt of the performance -- Aida and me performing "this woman, this sea" together -- and gain insight on the creative process, through interviews now on-line! Please check out the radio spots below, and enjoy Aida's extraordinary voice.
Visit - http://www.kfai.org/World
& scroll down to "4/24/2011 Century Song" for Sunday's 30-min interview and excerpt.
A shorter interview (10 min) will air tonight at 7 PM Central time, and will soon be archived at:
Also, on YouTube, you can see a TV interview with me on BelAhdan in Minneapolis:
The ELEVEN REFLECTIONS GALLERY is also open daily, with beautiful and compelling works by Sarah Ahmed Hassan, Steven Durland, Sinem Sinan Goknur, Abdellah Ouchagour, James Scruggs, and more (catch a glimpse above! more photos coming soon!)
Before the show opened, part of our team went on a field trip to Ft. Snelling National Cemetery, with Vietnam & Iraq war veteran Wes Davey (now an organizer with Iraq Veterans Against the War, www.ivaw.org), to see the astounding number of graves -- which we're not allowed to see in mainstream media -- and have deep conversations on U.S. militarism, from the genocide of Native Americans, Dakota people, that occurred on that very land ... to Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq, and beyond. It was a moving and transformative experience. Video footage of our trip to Ft. Snelling will also be on view in the Gallery this weekend.
The nightly dialogues associated with the performance have been rich, deep, and powerful. Every night, audience members share memories, questions, discuss points of view ... over mint tea and delicious Arab munchies provided by Mizna, one of our sponsors! www.mizna.org
Please continue to help spread the word to friends & colleagues in the Twin Cities, about the final performances, Thurs-Sunday (April 28-May 1). Folks in the area won't want to miss this ... In the words of Pramila Vasudevan, "It's bloody brilliant!"
Still to come: Professional photos of the performance, posters especially designed by Sinan, and clips from the CD we're making! Yes, we're recording the music this Saturday, thanks to our fabulous sound designer, Owen Henry! Can't wait to share more ...
THANK YOU ALL again,
for supporting this work!!
Posted April 06, 2011The creative process is in full swing!! Only 2 weeks away from the opening ... The artistic team is working with diligence and inspiration to pull all the elements together, and the associated events are bringing community members together in new and exciting ways. But first ...
The trip to NYC was a great success. Thanks to Krystal Banzon at NYU and ZoraSpace in Brooklyn, the week was full of fabulous rehearsals and explorations, culminating in two strong showings of work-in-progress with Pramila's media design (you can see a few images from the video drafts above!). A huge shout-out and THANKS goes to the Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance (BAAD!) and DIWAN: Arab Arts Forum for warm welcomes and incredible support of this work!
Meanwhile, 3 fantastically talented and masterful musicians joined the artistic team: seasoned Egyptian violinist and oud player Salah Fattah, local Arab music specialist and one-man-orchestra Tim O'Keefe, and the exceptional young vocalist and Daf player Aida Shahghasemi. You can catch a glimpse of Aida playing the Daf (Iranian frame drum, a remarkably dramatic instrument) here: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=127436609524
When I first arrived in Minneapolis, I put out a call for an understudy. Since I'm directing and performing, I sometimes need to step outside the piece to see how it's evolving, with someone else standing in for me. Well, the word spread, and now I have 3! All emerging poets and performers, the understudies bring a wonderful enthusiasm and fresh ideas to the process ... I can't wait for the associated Open Mic on April 22 that they'll be hosting! It'll be their turn to shine, and shine they will! Look out for the rising talents of Marisa Carr, Antonio Duke, and Nimo Farah!
In addition to performances, we've confirmed 3 powerful community events, April 25-27: a panel discussion on the Revolutions & Movements for Democracy across North Africa and the Middle East with local Arab scholars and artists; a teach-in on the True Costs of War, human and financial, with Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and a special screening of the "If I Had a Trillion Dollars" youth videos; and a dialogue on artistic process between Kathy Haddad, playwright and founder of Mizna, and myself. Multiple ways to engage multiple communities on issues relevant to our time ...
Publicity & further details for "Eleven Reflections..." at the Alternate Visions Festival is now up on the Pangea World Theater website. Please help spread the word!
Every performance will be followed by an interactive dialogue, facilitated by the skilled and graceful Sandy Agustin, surrounded by the art of more amazing artists, in the Eleven Reflections Gallery.
I am endlessly grateful to Pangea World Theater for the space they've provided to create community-engaged, politically progressive, and artistically challenging new work; and for their utter, undying commitment to supporting the artist's vision, no matter what. Thank you, Meena, Dipankar, Katie, and everyone connected with the process ... And thanks again for all of you, for the support to make this happen!
Hope to see you at the theater ... very soon!!
Posted March 24, 2011Friends, it's already time to begin showing excerpts of work-in-progress! Performances in NYC TONIGHT & FRIDAY morning!
Thursday, March 24, 8 PM
BAAD! ASS Women's Festival
Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance
Friday, March 25, 9:30 AM
Reflections on Eleven September Panel
DIWAN: Arab Arts Forum
at the CUNY Graduate Center, Recital Hall
FREE & open to the public!
I'll also be doing the "Unconference" conversation on the Democratic Revolutions spreading across the Arab world at 2 PM.
If you're in NYC at this time, please come! Hope to see you there!
Posted March 10, 2011It's been an amazing week! So much has happened in such a short time ...
First, in collaboration with the Arts & Democracy Project and freeDimensional, I had the honor of co-facilitating an international conference call on role of the arts and cultural workers in in the revolutions and democratic movements sweeping through North Africa and the Middle East. Speakers included Dalia Basiouny (theater artist & writer, Cairo), Khaled Mattawa (poet, Libya/Michigan), and Ahmed Issawi (Alwan for the Arts, NYC). It was an EXTRAORDINARY conversation. I highly recommend listening to the recording -- on-line through March at:
In my first week in-residence at Pangea World Theater, I had intensive media development time with Pramila Vasudevan, in which we were able to see the first drafts of the videos, projected in the studio, on the scrims. Pramila is in India as I'm writing this, continuing her work on the editing and design. Clips soon, I promise!
I also began the process of auditioning Minneapolis-based musicians, and have already met some wonderful artists! There's a final audition workshop / jam session coming up on Wednesday, March 16 at Pangea. I look forward to sharing news as the ensemble takes shape!
Also, planning with partner organizations is moving forward, with our first community event this Saturday: the "RE-THINK AFGHANISTAN" Minneapolis Meet-Up! At Pangea World Theater, from 1-3 PM, we'll screen winning videos made by youth around the U.S. for the "IF I HAD A TRILLION DOLLARS" contest, organized by the National Priorities Project and AFSC. These poignant, thought-provoking and creative videos will provide the spark for meaningful dialogue about the true costs of war, human and financial, and help us collectively envision the future we wish to see. (Not in MN? Find a Meet-Up near you!)
With all the generous donations from supporters around the country -- and around the world! -- as well as the commissioning and co-production support of Pangea World Theater, the real work of the "ELEVEN REFLECTIONS ON SEPTEMBER" project is well underway! Thanks to all of you!!
Posted March 02, 2011WE MADE IT!
"Eleven Reflections on September" is 101% funded!
THANKS to the 75 FANTASTIC Supporters
that made it happen! I'm so excited to share the creative process with this fabulous community ... And to share the theater work with you all!
THANK YOU, everyone, for helping to make it real!
More soon ...
Posted February 26, 2011At the moment of this writing, we have only 4 days, 5 hours, and 30 minutes left to reach our fundraising goal! The HEAT is ON!
Artistic collaborations are developing beautifully: Pramila Vasudevan is working hard on the first draft of the video design (I can't wait to share some clips!). James Scruggs is now fully on-board to create a brilliant interactive installation in conjunction with the performance (which I'll tell you more about soon!). I also just got word from May Nasr that she's coming to the U.S., and wants to meet about the possibility of collaborating! A sweet, unexpected turn of events, indeed. The team of artists uniting and intersecting for this work is incredibly inspirational.
Now we just have to make sure we have what’s needed to bring their talents fully to this work.
"Eleven Reflections..." is so much more than a show: It's a delicate web of creative connections. It's a way of facing the last 10 years and the seriousness of war. It’s a multidimensional approach to understanding ... it's art and activism ... a wake-up call. A way – as friend and poet Suheir Hammad recently wrote – “you reach toward dawn”.
Posted February 16, 2011Great news! "Eleven Reflections..." is already receiving invitations, beyond the April production at Pangea World Theater. I'll be presenting two excerpts in NYC in March!
Thursday, March 24, 8 PM
at the BAAD! ASS Women's Festival
Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance
Friday, March 25, 9:30 AM
Reflections on Eleven September Panel
DIWAN: Arab Arts Forum
at the CUNY Graduate Center, Recital Hall
If you're in NYC at this time, please come!
I've also received inquiries from Texas, London, Mexico and Poland ... and I'm waiting to hear from festivals in Baltimore and L.A.
Raising extra money for touring support is more important than ever! It's clear that people around the country, and the world, are interested in this project ... We just need to secure the resources to reach more people.
We've already reached nearly 60% of the minimum goal, with your inspiring and generous support. Only 2 weeks of fundraising left! Please keep encouraging friends and colleagues to visit the site, and match your contributions!
Hope to see you soon! A.
Posted February 10, 2011*** UPDATE to the UPDATE: Mabrouk! Congratulations to the valiant people of Egypt for their amazing triumph over dictatorship, and their relentless call for democracy! They are a true INSPIRATION ... May the future not betray them. - For Feb. 11, 2011
*** (The message below was written just hours before ... )
History is stubborn. It moves slowly, held back by the willful egos of visionless men. More and more people are calling for liberation and democracy, every single day. In a gorgeous, moving interview on Democracy NOW!, a doctor in Tahrir Square said, "We are writing history by our blood." And the movement continues ...
I am now certain that I must re-write the ending. I can see it unfolding ... but don't know where it leads, not yet. I know that I must make the connections ... Something is being reconstructed. Hope, perhaps, or dignity. The possibility of a new beginning.
I've embarked on another amazing collaboration with this project. Media and performance artist James Scruggs was an artist-in-residence in Tower 1, ten years ago. He has footage of that sky, a point in space from which we can no longer see -- blue, the clouds gliding by in time-lapse. We're in conversation now about how how that unique view, from the 106th floor, can be become a part of "Eleven Reflections ..."
But time is running out, and we still have just over half the money to raise to meet even the minimum goal! And we need more than the minimum to bring these beautiful collaborations to fruition ... We need new strategies! I'd like to ask each of you who has already made a contribution to find one friend, or a group of friends and colleagues, to MATCH your generous pledge. Can we do it?
Please keep spreading the word, and encouraging others to support!
In Peace & (R)Evolution,
Posted February 02, 2011Last week, as the protests in Egypt began, AlJazeera.net featured an article on "Eleven Reflections on September." I had been corresponding with Arab-Canadian writer Jackleen Salam since December, so the timing of the article's release seemed pure coincidence. Nevertheless, seeing my image alongside those of the courageous people who've taken over the streets of Cairo and Alexandria, to demand true and meaningful democracy, was startling and humbling. Even more so now, as the events of the last week have unfolded. Here's the article (in Arabic), in case you didn't see it:
I've been watching the extraordinary rise of the people in Egypt -- as well as the protests in Tunisia, the shift of power in Lebanon, and now demonstrations in Jordan -- with a strange mix of HOPE, lament, inspiration, and trepidation for what comes after ... what comes after the revolutionary moment?
And it all makes me wonder whether "Eleven Reflections..." needs a new ending.
Posted January 24, 2011
The other day, I went for a walk by a lake just before sunset. To my surprise, I saw a striking and unexpected image: a brilliant red leaf still clinging to a branch, back-lit by the warm glow of the setting sun. In January! I ran to get my camera, and started taking pictures, which may find there way into the media design ...
A couple days later, I got an email from a visual artist named Steve Durland, who's been making these gorgeous banners of autumn leaf detail enlarged on canvas and vinyl ... I had contacted Steve some time ago, because I was struck by the bold and vivid colors of his leaf fabrics, to see if we might find a way to work together, and he was getting back to me with some budget info ... As I looked again at his banners, and Pramila's poster design of falling words, I thought: wouldn't it be beautiful if we could create a gallery or site-specific exhibit of the poems superimposed on the leaf prints, and tour it with the performance?
Yes, we can ... If we raise enough money. We'd need more than the minimum goal. We'd need to get closer to the $15,000 goal. We've already raised 22% of the minimum in the FIRST week! That's fantastic, and if we keep up the momentum, and catch the "viral" effect of the internet, we can do it ... With your help, we can!
Posted January 20, 2011January 14 - 17 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)
Pramila Vasudevan, the lead media designer for "Eleven Reflections...," met me in Tampa, Florida, for an intensive work period, in which we made key decisions about the visual concepts and set design for the project. This photo shows us doing table work, but thanks to Dora Arreola & the USF Department of Theater, we were also able to have a crucial day in the studio, where we could test projections, scrim fabrics, and the interaction of the live body with some initial imagery. There are so many details to consider, in creating the illusion of a seamless environment on stage!! Pramila returned to Minneapolis with a lot of gorgeous ideas, lots of creative challenges, and a lot of design work ahead! And I was able to clarify some important things in my emerging directorial concept ... such as where the musicians might live in relation to the set, given how the light travels through the fabric, and how to create "a world in which things fall" ...
January 18 (Last night)
Last night, I received a phone call from the National Field Organizer of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). We're beginning a conversation on how we can work together, to connect the experience of the performance and the dialogue it inspires to local organizing, wherever in the U.S. this project tours.
That's the bigger picture. Not just reaching a minimum goal. But reaching higher. Engaging more people, in real ways. Making art, and making change.