REVIEWdat Black Mermaid Man Lady/Performance Installation
"Let Sharon Bridgforth's performance installation wash over you."

BY ROBERT FAIRES, The Austin Chronicle, 1:05PM, FRI. AUG. 24, 2018
"You know about Austin's lakes, its creeks, its springs. You know the river that runs through the center of the city. But are you aware we have a sea in town? It isn't the frostiest body of water in town, but I daresay it's the one that will most cleanse and heal you, and it's the only one that's home to a black mermaid man lady. Right, Sharon Bridgforth?" READ THE REVIEW HERE

Photo Credits: Shay Youngblood, Priscilla Hale, Diana Alvarez and Yvonne Garza at Chela y Nela Productions


dat Black Mermaid Man Lady/Performance Installation
A Collaboration Between Sharon Bridgforth, Sonja Perryman and Walter Kitundu
PREMIERE in Austin, Texas at allgo: a Texas statewide QPOC organization
THANKS TO OUR
2018 MAP Fund Award 8/17/18-8/25/18
Wesley Bryant - Technician

Events began at allgo with art and healing Offerings from Guest Artists:
August 17 Saturday 7pm special guest Omi Osun Joni L. Jones
August 18 Saturday 7pm special guests Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Sangodare
August 19 Sunday 2pm special guest Shay Youngblood
August 22 Wednesday 7pm special guest La'arni Ayuma
August 23 Thursday 7pm special guest Ateba Kamaal & Lyndon Gill
August 24 Friday 7pm special guest Krudas Cubensi
August 25 Saturday 7pm special guests Priscilla A. Hale and G'beda

After Guest Artist presentations
Florinda Bryant performed an excerpt from dat Black Mermaid Man Lady/The Show
and lead audiences in a procession to the Picture Box Studio/where the Performance Installation was housed.

Photo Credits: Shay Youngblood, Priscilla Hale, Diana Alvarez and Yvonne Garza at Chela y Nela Productions

SETTING UP

Photo Credits: Diana Alvarez and Yvonne Garza at Chela y Nela Productions

THE ROAD TO HERE . . .

I spend YEARS developing work. The process starts alone/with me writing...it then moves to work with collaborators...then audiences are invited in for various kinds of experiments...then work moves to productions/collaborations with producing partners...then to publication...Sharon Bridgforth
 

Developmental Processes For The Performance Installation Include:

Developmental Process and Sharing
New Dramatists PlayTime Development
11/5/15-11/20/15, New York City
Sharon Bridgforth and Sonja Perryman
Kyla Searle – Dramaturge
A.P. Andrews – Stage Manager

Developmental Sharing and Talk
Thousand Currents (formally known as IDEX)
4/23/16 at 3:30PM in San Francisco
Sharon Bridgforth and Sonja Perryman
Kyla Searle – Dramaturge
Leigh Gaymon-Jones - Catering
Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones and the Urban Research Fellows Domestic Study Program, 
African and African Diaspora Studies Department, University of Texas at Austin – Crew

Developmental Sharing
The Sweetwater Sessions, Vol. 2 Curated by Ashara Ekundayo
at Omi Gallery, Impact Hub, Oakland, CA  5/24/16
Sharon Bridgforth

Developmental Sharing
allgo, Austin, Texas 10/9/16
Sharon Bridgforth

Staged Reading
Nia Witherspoon's Performance In The Borderlands
at Arizona State University 2/27/16
Sharon Bridgforth and Sonja Perryman

Collaborator/Developmental Process
Sharon Bridgforth, Sonja Perryman and Walter Kitundu  8/2017
Diana Alvarez - Documentarian
Chicago, IL.

Developmental Sharing
allgo, Austin, Texas 8/25-8/27 2017
Sharon Bridgforth
Black LGBTQ Queer Arts Revival "Service" Of Poetry, Church, Performance, Community,
Divinity, Gospel House Music and Storytelling
Curated by Marvin K. White. Featuring: Sharon Bridgforth, Omi O. Jones, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Julia Sangodare Roxanne Wallace, Gbeda Tonya Lyles, DJ Jam E.Z., Dora Silva Santana, Charif Shanahan, Marvin K. White, Lyndon K. Gill , E. Patrick Johnson, Krudas Cubensi

Development Sharing
allgo @ The Carver Museum, Austin, Texas  9/2/17
Sharon Bridgforth

dem Mermaids Listening Party
Thousand Currents, at Oakstop in Oakland, CA  11/18/17
Sharon Bridgforth
Salihah Saadiq – Documentarian
Lettuce Inn – Catering

Developmental Sharing
Wofford Denius UTLA Center for Entertainment and Media Studies, Burbank, CA 2/18/18
Sharon Bridgforth and Sonja Perryman
Omi Osun Joni L. Jones – Dramaturgical Curation
K. Bradford and Fy – Film Makers
Salihah Saadiq – Photographers
Fallon Christian - Assistant
Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones and the Urban Research Fellows Domestic Study Program in Los Angeles,
African and African Diaspora Studies Department, University of Texas at Austin – Catering and Crew

The film below documents the first time dat Black Mermaid Man Lady/Performance Installation collaborators Sharon Bridgforth, Sonja Perryman and Walter Kitundu worked in person together on the Performance Installation. This work happened during a four day intensive working retreat in Chicago in August 2017. Film and editing by Diana Alvarez. 

The Performance Installation is a collaboration between Sharon Bridgforth, her daughter Sonja Perryman and 2008 MacArthur Fellow, Walter Kitundu. During a long, ongoing developmental process Sharon and Sonja explored their family experiences and mythologies, experimented with interactive modes of engaging audiences, and determined that the Performance Installation would have stations including: Mourning; Clearing; Gathering; Blessing; and Oracles. 

Walter - a sound artist, installation artist, and inventor of original musical instruments that navigate the boundary between live and recorded performance - is creating everyday objects that come alive through engagement to activate interaction at the stations. Original music, oracle readings, and shape shifting objects invite audiences to build, share, hold space, witness each other . . . and therein activate a more humane and expansive/collective experience. 

Sonja and Walter collaborated to compose and record songs - that Sharon wrote during the early developmental processes - with Sonja singing, with Walter playing the music (on instruments that he built).  

Below is an excerpt of one of the songs: 


May 2018, Sharon is having a blast offering dat Black Mermaid Man Lady/Oracle Readings, dem Mermaids Blessings and music from dat Black Mermaid Man Lady/Performance Installation in Molly Van Avery's (Tiny) Poetry House in Powderhorn Park, Minneapolis. 

The film below documents the 2/18/18 developmental sharing (with an invited audience) of an excerpt of dat Black Mermaid Man Lady/Performance at the Wofford Denius UTLA Center for Entertainment and Media Studies with support from Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones and the Urban Research Fellows Domestic Study Program in Los Angeles, University of Texas at Austin African and African Diaspora Studies Department. Filmed & Edited by K. Bradford and Sarah Fylak.

 

collaborators

 
 
 Photo Credit: Salihah Saadiq Photography

Photo Credit: Salihah Saadiq Photography

SHARON BRIDGFORTH, a Doris Duke Performing Artist, is a writer that creates ritual/jazz theatre. A New Dramatists alumnae, Sharon has received support from Whitman Institute, Creative Capital, MAP Fund, and the National Performance Network. dat Black Mermaid Man Lady/The Show premiered at Pillsbury House Theatre in Minneapolis, MN in June 2018, and dat Black Mermaid Man Lady/Performance Installation premiered at allgo in Austin, TX in August 2018. Sharon is author of love conjure/blues and Lambda Literary Award winning the bull-jean stories. Sharon is co-editor, with Omi Osun Joni L. Jones and Lisa Lynn Moore, of Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic: Art, Activism, Academia, and the Austin Project. Her River See Theatrical Jazz Performance Installation script is published in Obsidian Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, Issue 43.1. MORE HERE.


WALTER KITUNDU: Walter creates kinetic sculptures and sonic installations, develops public works, builds (and performs on) extraordinary musical instruments, while studying and documenting the natural world. He is the inventor of a family of Phonoharps, multi-stringed instruments made from record players that rely on the turntable’s sensitivity to vibration. Kitundu has created hand-built record players driven by the wind and rain, fire and earthquakes, birds, light, and the force of ocean waves. In 2008 he received a prestigious  MacArthur Fellowship in recognition his work and creative potential. MORE HERE.

Walter Kitundu.jpg

SonjaPerryman1_FINAL.jpg

SONJA PERRYMAN: is a producer, screenwriter, performer and facilitator who believes in harnessing the power of media to create change. Sonja holds a Master of Public Health from UCLA and a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She uses her research and storytelling skills to help create, develop, and write stories for television and film that tackle socially relevant issues such as mental health and systemic oppression. During her tenure as Director of Research & Development at Wise Entertainment, Sonja oversaw numerous television projects and also served as associate producer on Hulu’s Emmy-nominated television show, East Los High. She is associate producer on Time 2 Surrender, a film written, directed, and starring award-winning actor Elvis Nolasco and executive produced by Spike Lee. She currently has a development deal for a half-hour television show that tackles issues around black female identity through the lens of reality television. To learn more about Sonja, check out her interview on the St. Louis Public Radio Station HERE.

 


dat Black Mermaid Man Lady/Performance Installation is made possible by the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards programThe Whitman Institute, Thousand Currents Artist In-Residence Program, development support from New Dramatists Creativity Fund (a program made possible by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), MAP Fund and is a Project of Creative Capital.