Director: Petronia Paley
Reviewer: Jamie Rosler
According to the emcee, Rev. Rhonda “Akanké” McLean-Nur, this night’s work has roots in “our beauty… our pain.” She Speaks is a beautifully curated evening of poetry and performance, created by, addressed to, and in honor of the art and experiences of Black and African women. This reviewer, with no African ancestors any more recent than the ones all human beings share, appreciates the opportunity to be a guest in the audience of this celebration of Love, Resilience, Revolution.
Show curator McLean-Nur opens with a warm and engaging introduction. It is informative; she is lively and beautifully dressed for the event. Each upcoming performer is announced alongside a slide with their picture. Simple but effective tech and editorial choices weave the transitions fairly smoothly, with very few moments that jar.
Poets and musicians captivate us in a journey of three acts, beginning with revolution and going through resilience into love. Musician D.K. Dyson opens with a piece titled, appropriately, Revolution. It is a stark and heartful testimonial in song and percussion that kicks off a stunning run of meaningful, confrontational and powerful work that explores love, loss, bigotry, cancer, self-esteem, creativity and more.
In addition to the performances, a few guests join the line-up to speak directly to and about the work and cultural contributions of Toi Derricotte, recipient of the Woodie King, Jr.’s New Federal Theatre Lifetime Achievement Award. Ms. Derricotte is recognized as a poet, educator and activist who broke ground and laid new foundations for Black artists in the twentieth century.
The caliber of work and the quality of artistry that went into this uniquely curated event is inspiring, and leaves an impression. As Rev. Rhonda says, “Love, be resilient, and revolutionize every environment you come into contact with.”
Available until 25 November 2021