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Celebrated author Ntozake Shange has influenced countless artists, activists and young people with her critically-acclaimed poetry and plays. Acclaimed artist/performer Marc Bamuthi Joseph speaks with Shange, who he has called “one of my greatest influences” about the artistic process, activism and more. Bamuthi will perform excerpts from his works Word Becomes Flesh and red, black and GREEN: a blues.
Marc Bamuthi Joseph is one of America’s vital voices in performance, arts education, and artistic curation. In the fall of 2007, Bamuthi graced the cover of Smithsonian Magazine after being named one of America’s Top Young Innovators in the Arts and Sciences. He is the artistic director of the 7-part HBO documentary Russell Simmons presents Brave New Voices and an inaugural recipient of the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship, which annually recognizes 50 of the country’s “greatest living artists”. After appearing on Broadway as a young actor, Joseph developed several poetically based works for the stage that have toured across the U.S., Europe, and Africa. These include Word Becomes Flesh, Scourge, and the break/s, which co-premiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays and the Walker Arts Center in the spring of 2008. Joseph has been commissioned to create a libretto for the Atlanta Ballet in 2011, and to co-write a narrative for the Chicago Jazz Ensemble with Amiri Baraka in 2012. A gifted and nationally acclaimed educator and essayist, he has lectured at more than 200 colleges and universities, been a popular commentator on National Public Radio, and has carried adjunct professorships at Stanford University, Lehigh University, Mills College, and the University of Wisconsin. Bamuthi’s proudest work has been with YOUTH SPEAKS where he mentors 13-19 year old writers and curates the Living Word Festival and Left Coast Leaning.
Ntozake Shange is best-known as the award-winning author of the Broadway play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf. Shange’s work, celebrated for affirming the realities of women of color, has garnered worldwide acclaim and influenced a generation of young people, academics and artists. While Ms. Shange is first and foremost a poet, she has constantly extended her talents into other realms. Aside from For Colored Girls…, which was recently adapted into a movie by Tyler Perry, she has written numerous critically acclaimed plays, among them Three Pieces: Spell #7, Boogie Woogie Landscapes, & A Photograph in Motion, which won A Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry, and Mother Courage and Her Children, for which she received her second Obie Award. In addition, she is the author of several novels and books of poetry and essays, including the celebrated Sassafrass, Cyprus and Indigo, Betsey Brown as well as several children’s books; one of them, Ellington Was Not a Street, was the 2005 winner of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Once Upon a World Award. Ms. Shange has even put her passion on a plate with a soulful cookbook titled If I Can Cook, You Know God Can.
Jessica Lynne and DéLana R.A. Dameron reflect on ways they make a home, creatively, wherever they are.