Tuesday, October 21, 2014

20 Something

This is one of the first poems I performed in Washington DC at an open mic.  I took this out of the vaut to see if I still liked it.  I think it's still got something.  I won the poetry slam with it!

20 something

I I I chattin to bright
I bartend at night
It’s my job to smile
Helps me make more money
See no one get’s paid for looking unhappy
Inside though I’m deep and dark and lonely
And forced to serve drinks and empty talk to a bunch of cattle
Not that I hate my clientele
It’s just that I know that I’m better than them
Hell I’m not my night job professionally
I’m a writer, well not professionally
But it’s not what we do for the money
It’s what we got ,what we got
And what we all got is deep aspirations right? Right?
Well, I’m a writer

And this is what I’m thinking about when the bell on the door makes that ring and
this girl comes sliding up in front of me
looking like a girl with tired eyes
in her suit, skirt, sneakers, and tie
looking like someone who might see the lies-
like I’m lying to myself-no
looking like a girl with a pretty accurate bullshit detector
looking like me
but a little bit better since I’m the one serving her
and the management makes me where this ugly apron

so she breaks it down disdainfully
“I came here for a drink I assume you’re the one to give it to me”
I could slap her in the face
‘cause she said this shit with irony
Irony the peace sign of our age
Irony gives her permission to be rude and amusing at the same time
How dare she break my reverie with her fucking irony
I was contemplating this room significantly

What’s a scene! Full of folks soon demanding … I can hear! Serve me! Calling!
Smokes laughing chipper loud! next rounds on me! Sweet…
They… over in corner- they have the capitol idea speaking politiki lounge pop-culture referencing
Spreading their intelligence like cheap currency so outwitting friends so embodying trends so cool right?

Opposite dickity dicks back in the light
He’s got his laptop hooked to the cord rental near the barista
He tappity taps as he cap cap caps another video enemy
He tries to make it look like he’s working on email
Over There he flash-plastic Summ money “got change” smooth he say
As he thrusts out his wad. Check the chick to his side. Eyes go wide
I inwardly sigh
Oh it’s so big Baby! She all blushed up breasts
she and he hands brush “buy you a drink?”
“Charge!” “OK!”
he pay she flesh plastic
he flash plastic
she and he he and she she and he he and she
money money money
so they… catching eye contact disposable incommin’ Slide plastic
they getting sloppy together they spend cash
and I got the lucky day cuz the tips will flow and the till will fill right?

So they scream mediocre so they imbibe to forget
So they get puffed up beat down get high drink a little too much
So I loosen my collar I can’t breath in this ugly apron and false smile
My attitude is becoming my uniform
Bartending is becoming my life
I work for tips
They show money, give money, pay
I sell drinks in order to write
They buy drinks in order to what?
I don’t know why they’re here!

And this girl in her suit skirt sneakers and tie
Says I wouldn’t mind having your job, it must be nice
And she sighs, and I no longer hear the irony
I hear that she’s tired from sitting on her ass all day in a cubical
And I realize that I’m feeling angry
Not at the futility
But at the fact that I don’t own it personally
I’m not unique what a tragedy
This girl and me
We agree on this reality
Our mutual situation the years after college
Working at some job we didn’t study for
To pay off the debt for things we don’t own anymore
We’re the same
Our degree is on our sleeve
20 something bound success validate me
and I give her drink and say don’t worry it’s on me

Monday, October 20, 2014

Loves Labors

The Loves Labours show is always so low key and full of good feeling. It's a big thank you for all the volunteers who give so much to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It begins with yummy food and ends with yummy entertainment. This show featured some amazing singing, a rap about the entire season, a humorous modern dance number about the Tempest, and a sneak preview of American Night High. So grateful to our volunteers!


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Closing of the Green Show!

Final closing night with video art and music from David Molina. It's been a great Green Show season. Thanks to amazing staff, amazing artists, and our amazing audience. 115 awesome shows! Well done everyone!

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Awesome staff and volunteers!
Wonderful dance!
MC Diva Disaster!
Great music!
Coronation of the Queen!
Awesome audience!
Songs about gay marriage!
Actual gay marriage!
What a joyful show to produce!

Monday, September 29, 2014


So proud we were able to co-produce this piece of work at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival

In the gripping play TELLING the true stories of seven adult survivors of child sex abuse are woven together to create a tapestry of pain, secrecy & HOPE.

TELLING is part of Ping Chong + Company's Secret Survivors National Initiative to use theater to raise awareness around child sexual abuse.

Modeled after the original Secret Survivors production, social service organizations around the country (including OAASIS) participated in arts and activism training with Ping Chong + Company, and are now creating their own theatrical productions and projects, featuring the voices and experiences of survivors of child sexual abuse. These productions will become tools for community-based dialogue and galvanize action as part of the national movement to end child sexual abuse, of which OAASIS is an integral part of.

Using Ping Chong + Company's production of "Secret Survivors" as a model, OAASIS contracted with playwright Margie Boulé, to write a powerful play that is now having significant impact on the lives of those involved in its production, as well as audience members.

In a society in which one out of four girls and one out of six boys have experienced child sex abuse, it remains a secret rarely shared. In the gripping play TELLING, the true stories of seven adult survivors are woven together to create a tapestry of pain, secrecy, and ultimately, hope.

Using visual images, original music, movement, dance, and poetry, these brave residents of the Pacific Northwest share their personal stories of prolonged abuse by brothers, fathers, mothers, teachers, priests, babysitters, strangers and "friends" of the family. With courage, some trepidation and even some humor they step onto the stage, into the light, and recount experiences that changed their lives dramatically. Their stories are a road map to hope for other survivors.
Written by: Margie Boulé
Performers: Elise Bradley, Das Chapin, Cristi Dillon, Gabriel Mikalson, Gordon Romei, Carolee Horning, and Digene Farrar.
Design Team: Jamie M. Rea, Gordon Romei

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hold On Wait For It episode 2

In episode two of Hold On Wait For It podcast sisters Claudia and Maia discuss looking sexy, the use of problematic language, taking offense, Sliders, Cleavant Derricks, Star Trek the Next Generation season 2 episode 5, Howie Seago, Common, Mackelmore, Eminem, Brooklyn 99, Stephanie Beatriz, Archer, Aisha Tyler, the murder of Jordon Davis, and race and ethnicity in the United States.

music feature: Black Eyed Peas- Let's Get It Started(ft Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Chipettes)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Luis Alfaro's St. Jude

Luis Alfaro, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright-in-Residence, will perform his autobiographical play St. Jude on September 11 at 8 p.m. in the Thomas Theatre as part of the Festival’s four-day CultureFest celebration. The production is the final OSF Presents production of the season.

Tickets are $20 for OSF members and $18 for non-members and may be purchased online or by calling the Box Office at 800-219-8161.

In St. Jude, Highway 99 becomes an emotionally charged memory lane for Mr. Alfaro when his father has a stroke, compelling him to revisit the Central Valley of his childhood. As the family gathers around the ailing patriarch, the playwright conjures up memories of his youth—complete with an old-school slide show—from picking grapes to gospel-infused tent revivals family holidays to running away from home at 16. St. Jude is—in Alfaro’s words—“going from ‘what I am’ to ‘who I was.” It’s a remarkable journey rich with laughter, pathos and surprising revelations.

Paired with a 6:45 p.m. Green Show by OSF Ensemble-in-ResidenceUNIVERSES, this one-night OSF Presents performance helps kick off CultureFest 2014, a celebration of multiethnic heritage and the diverse work on the Festival’s stages that will take place September 11-14. Held every other year, among CultureFest’s 2014 offerings are play readings and discussions, multicultural Green Shows and Spanish open-captioned performances of three plays. More on CultureFest: https://osfashland.org/experience-osf/current-season/cultural-connections/culturefest.aspx

CultureFest FB invite: https://www.facebook.com/events/734749776568067/

Sunday, September 07, 2014

theater of cruelty is call and response

the theater of cruelty is call and response
I choose to sleep in a labyrinth of stairs
amongst black pleather  heels
and calves full of hot air
at night, the dreams of historians
the breakers delight, the poets ache
keep me awake
I negotiate the next steps of the revolution
while an african performance artist
weaves hip-hop into my hair

Monday, September 01, 2014

OSF Presents: Lisa Wolpe's Shakespeare and the Alchemy of Gender

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) will welcome Lisa Wolpe, LA Women’s Shakespeare Company artistic director and acclaimed Shakespearean drag king, to the Angus Bowmer Theatre on September 1 at 8 p.m. for OSF Presents: Shakespeare and the Alchemy of Gender.

Wolpe, who appeared at OSF in 2012 as Polina in The Seagull and as Jason, Chorus and Ensemble in Medea/Macbeth/Cinderella, returns to the Festival with this solo show that shares the story of a masterful performer rending the veil that separates genders, actors and audience, and the present from the past. Wolpe reveals physical and spiritual secrets of cross-gender performance and offers insight into the making of the Bard’s magic.

General seating tickets for this show are $18 for members and $20 for non-members and may be purchased in advance online, in person at the OSF Box Office, or by calling 800-219-8161. Due to the Labor Day holiday, web sales will close Sunday, August 31, and tickets will be available for purchase and pick-up at the Angus Bowmer Theatre door on Monday, September 1.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

My TedxFargo Talk

Ted is cool. Fargo was awesome. I want to do more Ted talks.

Thanks to all my collaborators. Bronkar Lee, Cornflower, Wind Woods, Cassondra Lindbloom Fetty, Jenny Graham, Michael Locher, Eduardo Placer, Ruy Iskandar, Cate E. Ridenour, Jess Carr, Donya K Washington, Claude Alick, J. Alan Paul Photography.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dancibility at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Thank you Emory for gracing us with your final performance after 25 years of work with Dancibility. The entire groups work was superlative.The Green Show was beautiful and moving as was your dance.

Monday, August 25, 2014


"poetry for the people by the people"
By the people in Ferguson, MO
Edited By Claudia Alick
August 23-24, 2014

From "Dada & Surrealist Art," by William S. Rubin, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York 1968

Among Surrealist techniques exploiting the mystique of accident was a kind of collective collage of words or images called the cadavre exquis (exquisite corpse). Based on an old parlor game, it was played by several people, each of whom would write a phrase on a sheet of paper, fold the paper to conceal part of it, and pass it on to the next player for his contribution.

The technique got its name from results obtained in initial playing, "Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau" (The exquisite corpse will drink the young wine). Other examples are: "The dormitory of friable little girls puts the odious box right" and "The Senegal oyster will eat the tricolor bread." These poetic fragments were felt to reveal what Nicolas Calas characterized as the "unconscious reality in the personality of the group" resulting from a process of what Ernst called "mental contagion."

At the same time, they represented the transposition of Lautrééamont's classic verbal collage to a collective level, in effect fulfilling his injunction-- frequently cited in Surrealist texts--that "poetry must be made by all and not by one."

Editor’s note:  Ferguson, a suburb just north of St. Louis, drew national attention this month after white police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot an unarmed,18-year-old black man, Michael Brown, on Aug. 9. In the weeks sense the street have been filled with police violence, protest, looting, praying, press and productive work to make things better.

This poem was written in St. Marks Church, on the streets of Canfield Green, in art’s spaces in St. Louis, on the street.  Writers included children, protesters and volunteers from around the country, farmers, teachers, locals from the neighborhood, journalists, religious figures, computer programmers, politicians, activists, police, artists.

The people I met told stories of being jailed with no charges, ways to combat teargas and other forms of attack, being provoked, being afraid, being angry, being hopeful, organizing, what groups were against them, what groups were working for them, hearing about the death of Mike Brown online, seeing another black man shot by police at a different location, making art, making money, their poverty, their privilege, their confusion, their heartache, their impatience, their love, the reasons they were there, the reasons they cared.

Participants of the poem wrote after viewing only the previous line.  Handwriting was deciphered as clearly as possible.  Case and punctuation were retained for most part. No punctuation added. Spelling was corrected except where necessary for meaning.  Some line breaks added.  I wrote the first and last stanza.

A cacophony of voices
A movement of people
A cacophony of voices
A movement of people
A cacophony of voices

My love for my people is deep and strong
We must have no fear and keep moving on
And like a river erode the injustice that harms us
We pray for the little angels affected by the struggle
We pray for the families standing by each other with love
I pray, pray, pray for the mothers of little black boys

Race is part of the same embRACE, unity
The lack of Synchonisity     BRUTALITY     CONFUSING ME
Young children miming emotion at the site that ignited a movement
A movement where the rules bent
For a nation that lacks improvement

For our young
Is our future
Save them, SAVE THEM
Charges the negative
Rules and laws of the land
Please give our young people a chance
SAVE THEM, not kill Them
Injustice is not justice we need change in this land
Together we stand and we fear one man
So take your brother hand and hand each other to God loving hands
Justice and God for us all
Blessings and overflow are to be established by God
May God lift up the family of Michael Brown
As well as the many families victimized by police violence and our people in general

May the energy of shango!
Make a way out of no way
I don’t preach non-violence
I teach self-defense
Let’s continue to pray and participate in the peaceful protest for our community
This much is needed
Humanity is all
The quest for justice begins with us
Step by step, always forward
Moving forward, with are heads held high
Unity, Love, and Peace will Keep us
Black is beautiful, especially in large crowds
I shall not stop until justice is done
Until peace is restored and our youth are safe
We will continue to add water to a river of blood on our streets

Stay calm, and strong
Justice is coming!
But don’t get too calm,
Because this isn’t funny

God Is!!!
Peace, Hope and Love
Your Kingdom Beak Forth
Because no more broken bodies
No more broken dreams and better days
All we want is justice and new ways
My brownness is not a weapon
I am not meant for target practice
I practice with targets
Punctured paper with no soul
Break the Mold, We reach the goal
The gaze is intriguing leap
Is this true?  Is it honest? Is it me?
Who do I ask, to see myself?
Confusion, crowds, cheers and chants
I’m mentally drained
I can’t understand the lack of logic

So far the people in Ferguson are now walking
Together and helping each other helping the community
Now having a better understanding on what we
Mean when we say Justice No Peace
Justice on the police
And peace for us
And our family
And not just here

We live in different areas come from
Different walks of life
Despite all that we
Come together for equality
No Equality No Peace
We shall stand our ground until all needs are met
What’s right is right don’t panic a race for misunderstanding
Taking advantage of them and subconsciously enslaving them!
Strength is power
Power to the people
I’m a white girl from out of town, I know my place is in support, so my presence means more than my voice
Freedom justice and equality for all
Was the American promise
And it’s time to make due

So many voices spoke
Each one is true
A cacophony of voices

A movement of people

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ferguson Moment Sunday Midnight

Danny, Katy, and I roll out on the streets of Ferguson for one last night to hand out some supplies and allow me to be in a last moment of physical solidarity. Usually this area is full f folks but the funeral is tomorrow and the family requested peace. A journalist and two police officers add to my collaborative poem. The police talk about their exhaustion, and I can sense a few of them have some deep anger. We give a small group of protesters camped out with tents and supplies some oranges and note pads. Katy gets a list of things they really need. I make some balloon animals . Some dude from Indiana was making them and it became part of their protest culture. Dude has since gone home but they are still making balloon art with words on it. It's a little surreal making balloon animals after midnight in the streets of Ferguson. The stories and viewpoints the men share are important and varied. These are young black men from the neighborhood who have been out since day one, they've been jailed, tear gassed, harassed. They are exhausted but continuing. 2 young white women just arrived from Chicago give me water. I collect more poetry. The night is calm but for the quiet constant presence of cop cars. We head back to the hotel. I fly home in a few hours. I am full of feelings.

Ferguson Moment Day Three Sunday Gathering

Amazing gathering of diverse artists, art leaders in the community. I am so impressed, proud, grateful for our collaborators in organizing and facilitating the evening. It was a cumulative process which started with things that seemed like random theater games and exercises but built to a powerful scene that was staged by the whole room and ended with us solving an unjust event.

There was an awkward moment where some of us wanted press and others did not. I called the one press person who'd asked to attend and left a polite message disinviting her .  She attended anyway.  This trigged folks who'd had negative experiences with press or who were protecting the sacredness of the space.  There were others who advocated for the journalist and felt value in her sharing our story. I usually have the rule that if one person is made uncomfortable you shift to include them by adjusting the room but this was complicated.  The inclusion of the journalist might disenfranchise other folks in the room. We decided to roll with mixed opinions and welcome her but also tell the room there was press in the space and ask the press to identify themselves.  SURPRISE! Other press identified themselves.  We were surprised that we were a story. We did not want to be a story.  This was not about us.  We requested that no one use our pictures or quote anyone in the space without explicit permission. While this was a grand total of 5 min of the 3 hour event I learned a good lesson about press, narrative, and crafting space.  If we didn't want press we should have placed it in the invite we sent to the arts community.

We began gathering moments of injustice or peace people had witnessed or experienced and these were placed on a wall.  Then we did an exercise that centered us where we observed without staring, where we followed without chasing, where we connected without touching. We did an exercise where we found out where we were all from and where we were coming from.  Where we had things in common and where there was difference.  Then we sang together and gained physical empathy and emotional empathy.  In pairs we listened to each others stories and told them back as if they were our stories.  We learned how we move and tried to move like others.   We split into two large groups and chose one story we all felt resonance with and staged it.   Then we did Theater of the Oppressed style lightening forums and intervened into the scene. We listened, we cooperated, we collaborated, we created transformative art.

The room gave us messages to send to the national community and gave us so much affirmation. Time and effort very well spent.  Now to spread these messages.  Now to meditate on them. Now to act upon them.


Ferguson Moment Sunday morning

I start the day from my hotel room with phone conversations with locals artists inviting them to lead a section of or Sunday event. I have a long conversation with Rebecca Martinez, a theater artists from New York who works with Sojourn Theater. I saw her in a beautiful piece set on a farm and a bus station and a church and outside where there was dancing and a meal served.  I remember it helped me understand Portland in a deeper way.  I go downstairs and find that breakfast is being broken down but Mica is still there with Carmen Morgan a colleague who consults with OSF on diversity and inclusion work. It's a super surprise. She there with her faith hat on and is looking for a church to go to.  We're headed to a church to see some kids do youth theater and we all attend together. Below are the notes I took while watching int he audience of friends and family of the church, the theater, and the children.

We are inside a church
The children face us on formation
Quote Langston Hughes
What happens when a raisin is left in sun
Gunshots become whip cracks
The children wail and reach for freedom
The sound track calls for them to rise up
They sing we are drum Africa to America 
They March in rhythm 
They sing for peace and surround us
They clasp hands in solidarity and connection
We applaud 
The littlest ones sing this little light if mine 
We join them clappingp
They become the ocean through dance
Wade in the water 
They are chained
Keep your eyes on the prize
Wade in the water
Unchained through dance
I am weeping inside 
Naming maya Angelou 
I rise and still I rise
I am the dream and hope of the slave
They create music with their bodies with feet hands and voice
Alone all alone nobody but nobody can make it out here alone
Music gets funky hiphop
Life doesn't frighten me at all
I am laughing now 
We applaud 
Phenomenal women 
Little does a back flip
Martin Luther King
We shall overcome
Injustice a whet is a threat to justice to everywhere
No justice no peace
A call to service
A call to commitment
A call to speak out against injustice
Faith is taking the first step
Even when you can't take the whole staircase
Deep in my heart I do believe
Step dance
Blues music
Langston Hughes
I too sing America
A white cop walks through the space
He passes the stage and walks out the front door
We all give him stink eye
Langston Hughes continues 
That's the blues
I dream a world
My world
To fling arms up towards the sun
The children tell us their dreams
We applaud
Beat boxing
Black island Africa me and my song
Little girl can sang!
To be young gifted and black
Is where it's at!
We applaud
If I can see it
I can do it
I believe I can fly
African drums
African dance
We clap along
We testify
Some stand 
Hands up dont shoot
Standing ovation
Proud mamas and papas
Proud brothers and teachers 
Artistic director Ron Himes thanks all and shouts out Purlie Victorious
When you support the main stage it supports the work with the youth
The preacher makes a call for the churches, and all other black institutions to support Black Rep
Taking us to church

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ferguson Moment Day 2 Canfield Green

Mica and I arrive at St. Marks Church to find something to volunteer for. Sharifa has been there since 7:30 am. I start to collect my streetpoem and Mica is taking it all in. We head to Canfield Green to help with a project a local started called the Story Wall. I think it was Elizabeth Vega since she's the one who taught us how to do it.  That said at a certain time that day I end up running the table with a volunteer from Texas for several hours and people start asking me questions like I started it.  The sun is shining and it's a beautiful if humid hot day.  Everyone is always giving out bottles of water and I think the bottled water companies must be making a fortune over this.  I'm super grateful because it's the kind of weather where if you are not constantly hydrating you can get a heat stroke. There's a big field to the left with tents and people giving out free food and BBQing. There's a stage next to it with a sound system and a big Christian group worked the stage all day with loud passionate preaching, singing, gospel dancing and rapping.  Down the middle of the street dried roses led to where Mike Brown was shot.  A small memorial of items laid with love were there and another memorial was set up by the side of the road. There were a lot of people, neighbors, kids, tourists, protesters, activists, folks from all over the country. Later in the day there was a rally up the street.  A lot of marchers came by after that.  People shared stories, children played, people yelled loud messages, and people laughed, and people cried, and people took pictures, and journalists hunted for stories, and the mix of politicians, and volunteers, and people who lived there walked and stood and mixed and mingled. The day was hot and my heart was grieved the entire time I was there.  It felt like a wake. It felt like a vigil.  It felt like  party.   I was grateful to head home that night for more logistical planning and debriefing.  I met some of the first respondents who started protesting.  They had some deep stories.  I collected more poetry.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ferguson Moment day one Legacy

Danny and I attend the open mic at Legacy organized by UrbArts. Turns out the slam is Saturday night (darn it!) One side of the space is a dance club with folks hand dancing to soul music. The other side is a separate room with a DJ and tables. We jam on a rough plan for Sunday at the bar.  We're feeling uncomfortable with the power dynamics of outside artists teaching locals but we create a rough plan in the knowledge that everything is written in pencil and we can rewrite our plans if the situation calls for it.  This is my first time working with Danny but he strikes me as a planner like me.  I feel comfort from a well organized structure. Ironically, it's what makes me feel free to be flexible.  I chat on the phone with a guest artist who does theater of the oppressed as the opening act finishes up. She seems very cool and smart and it's risky to say yes to folks but everyone is vouching for another person on our makeshift team. I trust Danny so I trust Katy.  The open mic starts with great music and poetry. There's a piece that's a duet with singing and spoken word, a guy does singer songwriter work on the guitar. A white dude does an improvised piece with a washboard that seems to be about Ferguson, but he quickly loses the crowd after using the n-word. It's a primarily African-american space and I wonder what this dude was thinking.  A woman does a very funny poem about working out while being overweight.  It's nice that not everything has to be about Ferguson. I spit my piece called "black girl so sorry"  and Danny spits a poem from his notebook that is fierce, cops to his privileged, and gets us fired up for social justice through art. Danny is receiving the double hand shake from the brothers with skill in the room and I'm getting those slaps on the back that cripple me which means we did good. We invite everyone to join us on Sunday at 6. The featured poet invites everyone to attend a fundraiser for Michael Browns family Sunday at 4 at Plush. The night is a mix of revolution and the ridiculous all in rhyme.  If I lived here I think this would be a spot I'd hit at least a few times a month.