dat Black Mermaid Man Lady/The Show
will have it's world premiere at
PILLSBURY HOUSE + THEATRE
in Minneapolis June 1 - JUNE 24, 2018!! 

 Directed by Ebony Noelle Golden
 Dramaturge: Alexis Pauline Gumbs
Composter/Musical Director: Mankwe Ndosi
Cast: Aimee K. Bryant, Florinda Bryant, PaviElle French, and Kenyai O’Neal
Designers: Christopher Heilman - Set Design, Sonya Berlovitz - Costume Design, Mike Wangen – Light Design
Elizabeth MacNally - Production Manager/Stage Manager.

 dat Black Mermaid Man Lady /The Show is a performance processional that celebrates African-American cultures/traditions/histories/and multiple ways of embodying gender. The characters HoneyPot, Miss Kitty and dat Black Mermaid man lady work with Oya, Osun and Yemaya (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. Performers sing, move, tell stories, call the audience to process, chant, holler back, build altars –  celebrate life.  All present are responsible for the Journey. 
PREMIERE DETAILS HERE.

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Photos by Rich Ryan

LISTEN TO MPR NEWS INTERVIEW
With Sharon and Marianne Combs HERE.

Rob Hubbard / TwinCities Pioneer Press Theater review says: 
 "This is a writer with a style and sound entirely her own. The words that come from her characters’ mouths are musical, magical, poetic and pregnant with history. This is a play full of intertwined yarns, family folk tales that call into question the boundaries between past and present. Stories about epiphanies and transformations, communing with ancestors and establishing identities."
 READ THE REVIEW HERE.

WHAT AUDIENCES ARE SAYING

"What a transcendent work of theater. I received a gift of deep spiritual medicine that I am still trying to unpack. MPLS: run don't walk to see this show, and everyone else should be figuring out how to bring it to your town."

"I promise you this: The spirit of God lives in PaviElle's voice. There is no describing Dat Black Mermaid Man Lady / The Show. Just do your soul a favor and go see it!"

"This beautiful show is therapy!"

"It was church."

"I felt held by the performance, in a way that felt spiritual, emotional and sensory. I felt inspired creatively and politically and in relationship to healing."

"dat Black Mermaid Man Lady felt so familiar. Like blood memory. A space for blackness celebrated, buoyant, blackness present but not another news headline."

"I am a 52 year old, recent transplant from New Orleans to MN. dat Black Mermaid Man Lady / The Show felt like attending one of my family's "get-togethers" from childhood. Everything was so authentic! Even the character names were like those of family members. I needed this touch of home and the playwright truly understands my culture. What a sweet gift this play was. THANK YOU!!!"

MORE FROM CRITICS
"One of the most stimulating—and therapeutic—pieces of theatre I have seen anywhere in the Twin Cities this year. More than a play, this "performance processional" is a breathtaking, at times achingly beautiful celebration of life and memory and ancestral love."  Talking Broadway-Regional Reviews: Minneapolis/St. Paul

"In the end, the performers create a mental space where “the past, the present, the future/the living, the dead, the not yet born, co-exist”,  a threshold where much of the action happens in the audience’s imagination instead of onstage. One’s mind grasps at how associations, connected themes, and assembled fragmentary scenes blends into a story. To some, this kind of interactivity is the Holy Grail of abstract, collaborative theatre." - Twin Cities Arts Reader

"A bold and urgent narrative filled with fire, life and sudden flashes of humor... a tale that feels both weighted with mythology and freshly vivid." - Star Tribune

"There are comic incidents and long journeys, gnomic utterances, and loaded guns, all seamlessly woven into a tapestry of song drawing on gospel, blues, and jazz... There's a profound sense of truths that are known but not spoken, wounds that are healed with quiet understanding." - City Pages

Dwight Hobbes / Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder says:
"Playwright celebrates exploration of gender with new play"  HERE.


 The Show is part of the dat Black Mermaid Man Lady/Home project and was made possible by the Doris Duke Performing Artist Awards program, The 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) and is a project of Creative Capital.

                                   Photo Credit: Salihah Saadiq Photography·

                                  Photo Credit: Salihah Saadiq Photography·

dat writer
sharon bridgforth

A child of the Great African-American Migration, Sharon was raised by Black Southerners who moved to Los Angeles/determined to make a better life for themselves and those to come. A Black queer child coming of age during assassinations, riots, the Black Power Movement and Soul Music – Sharon strives to model the unbending dignity, commitment to community, self-determination and Love of Black cultures that was modeled for her. Widely published, Sharon is Artist In-Residence at Thousand Currents (which funds grassroots groups led by women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples in the Global South).  A Doris Duke Performing Artist, Sharon is recipient of funding from The Whitman Institute, Creative Capital, MAP Fund and the National Performance Network. One of the many artists mentored by Laurie Carlos, Sharon has worked in the Twin Cities regularly since 1995 and has proudly  called Pillsbury House + Theatre home since 2005. 

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dat director
ebony golden

is an artist and cultural strategist who unflinchingly believes in the power of creativity to inspire, instigate, and incite acts of collective and self-determined emancipation. As an artist-scholar, Golden stages site-specific rituals + live art productions that profoundly explore the complexities of freedom in the time of now.   Her creative work has been presented at  Judson Memorial Church, National Black Theatre, Hayti Heritage Center, DC Arts Center, and the Bronx Academy of Art and Dance among others. Her curatorial projects have been presented at Brooklyn Museum, New York University, Alternate Roots, and The Brecht Forum among others. Slated for a 2019 world premiere, 125th & Freedom is processional, protest, parade comprised of ten choreopoetic rituals staged along 125th Street between the Harlem and Hudson Rivers.  The five-hour performance venerates the radical legacies of The Underground Railroad, The Great Migration, and 125th Street to explore migration, gentrification, and creative emancipation in the wake of large scale political, economic, cultural displacement.  More HERE

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dat dramaturge
alexis pauline gumbs

is the author of Spill: Scene of Black Feminist Fugitivity (Duke University Press, 2016) and the forthcoming M Archive: After the End of the World (Duke University Press, 2018).  She is also the co-editor of the anthology Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines. Alexis is the co-creator with Julia Roxanne Wallace of the Mobile Homecoming project an experiential archive amplifying generations of Black LGBTQ brilliance and is currently the visiting Winton Chair of the Liberal Arts at University of Minnesota. More HERE

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dat vocal composer
Mankwe ndosi

Mankwe Ndosi is celebrated for sound and practice that spans genres, with influences from Jazz and African legacies, Hip Hop and Soul, performance art, theater, social practice and improvisation. She is a performer and composer using texture, rhythm, utterance and harmony to make music with artists of all genres, and living beings human, animal and elemental - expressing emotion, story and spirit. She performs nationally and internationally and has appeared with Nicole Mitchell, The Give Get Sistet, Mike Ladd, Dana Hall, Sylvain Kassap, Sharon Bridgforth, Laurie Carlos, George Lewis, Medium Zach, I-Self Devine, Ananya Dance Theater, Atmosphere, and Douglas Ewart. She is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music. Ms. Ndosi uses creativity as both the result and the process/method of building relationship or achieving goals. She is a Culture Worker - using creative practice to nurture our connection to each other, our ancestors, and our earth.

 

DAT CAST

 
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Aimee K. Bryant

was named Best Actress of 2015 by City Pages. Her most recent theater credits include the roles of Martha, Officer Pilate, Miriam, Ida B. Wells, and Mrs. Thomas in The Gospel of Lovingkindness at Pillsbury House Theatre; Mother Earth in The Nature Crown with Theatre Forever; Celie in The Color Purple at Park Square Theatre; Understudy of all the characters in Seedfolks at Children’s Theatre Company; Shun in Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet with Pillsbury House Theatre, Ensemble member in My Fair Lady at the Guthrie Theater, and Marian the Librarian in The Music Man with Ten Thousands Things. Aimee is a Core Artist with Ten Thousand Things and a Founding Ensemble Member of Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago. 

 

DAT CAST

 
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Florinda Bryant

served as operations manager for Creative Action 2005-2018, using performance to inspire and empower at-risk youth. She is also the artistic director of Austin Project Performance Company, supported by the John L. Warfield Center for African & African American Studies Department at the University of Texas. Based in Austin, Texas, Florinda was mentored by Laurie Carlos. She has performed numerous Salvage Vanguard plays, including In This House, Civilization (All You Can Eat), From the Pig Pile, Bright Now Beyond, and AM I White.

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PaviElle French

is an amazing interdisciplinary artist, Upper Midwest Emmy Award and Sage Award winner. Ms. French was voted as Minneapolis City Pages "Best R&B Vocalist of 2015", her band was named one of First Avenue's “Best New Bands of 2015” and, was a featured artist on TPT's "Lowertown Line” and most recently, “Art Is…Black Light”. She has written and performed in two one-woman shows: Runnin’, at Pillsbury House Theatre’s Naked Stages series (2014); Ovarian Fortitude, at Intermedia Arts’ Underbelly series (2016). 

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Kenyai O’Neal

is trilled to be joining the Pillsbury House + Theatre
Family with this production. Theatre credit includes Mr. Mayor and Wickersham #1 (Seussical), Pasko (Little Princess), Nathanial Wheatley (Phillis: the American Revolutionary), Chance (24WORDS), Neptune (Hair), Bobby Rush (Jeff Fort and Fred Hampton: A Revoluationary Love), Bupe (The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves), Dean (May Day). Kenyai would like to thank God for the opportunity and his mother, who has supported him from the beginning. 


DAT TEAM

PILLSBURY HOUSE + THEATRE - PRODUCER
 
Elizabeth MacNally - PRODUCTION Manager

Mike Wangen - Lighting Designer

Christopher Heilman - Set Designer

Sonya Berlovitz - Costume Designer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dat SCRIPT

 
 

DAT SCRIPT DEVELOPMENT

Playwright Mia Chung invited San Francisco based (where I lived at the time) New Dramatists members to participate in a Bake-Off. Fashioned after the famed Paula Vogel Bake-Off,  you are given ingredients to create a play – and you have 48-hours to write it.  Our Bake-Off took place July 22 – August 5, 2013 at Z Space hosted by Peter Nachtrieb. Our ingredients included: ducks, mermaids and gangsters. The result for me was a very early, very short draft of what would grow to become dat script.

dat Black Mermaid Man Lady is the recipient of development support from New Dramatists Creativity Fund, a program made possible by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.   Creativity Fund work happened: September 16 – 20, 2013 @ New Dramatists featuring: Daniel Alexander Jones and Kelly Erin Sloan
and October 6 – 10, 2014 @ New Dramatists featuring:
Daniel Alexander Jones and Kelly Erin Sloan
Virginia Grise – Director, Kyla Searle – Dramaturg,
Jillian Jetton – Stage Manager.

dem Mermaids and I are deeply grateful to ALL
who have carried us on the Journey!

dat Black Mermaid Man Lady/The Show 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) and is a Project of Creative Capital.