World premiere April 2014, The Fusebox Festival (Austin, TX)
New York premiere April 2014: New York Live Arts, Live Ideas Festival: James Baldwin
Restless Natives is a 6-person choreopoem inspired by and in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of James Baldwin’s Another Country. In addition to the six performers (dancers and actors who dance), the piece features an original poetry score by renowned performance poet, Ursula Rucker who will perform live. Set within a jukejoint called Home, a kind of neighborhood bar- a speakeasy where the conversations are not easy- located at the intersection of Memory and Experience, Restless Natives is a non-linear dance theatre piece that asks and responds to the question, “Do you love me?” within shifting thematic contexts of race, gender, class, and politics drawing from contemporary and traditional African Diasporic music and movement forms and theatrical conventions. The piece re-imagines the characters of Another Country- musicians, writers and artists of various racial, sexual, and social backgrounds- situating them in a series of contemporary conversations, confessions and bar fights in the jukejoint…at the wake of the Black male protagonist, Barry aka Prez. At “Home” time vacillates between past and present; and characters who might be labelled straight or gay, black or white, male or female, rich or poor all commingle, albeit sometimes painfully. The continual presence of rhythm and blues music and rhythms are used to reinforce and link the ways in which the protagonists individually and collectively identify with the ability of the blues to facilitate escape from the world’s definitions and become that rare, unattainable thing: themselves. Ultimately, Restless Natives pays homage to Baldwin’s critique of a “moral” and “democratic” America that fosters prejudice based on race, class, and sexuality; it serves as a blues saturated commentary on the current socio-political landscape of 21st century America.
This piece was commissioned by Texas Performing Arts, The Fusebox Festival, and Temple University