E.G. Bailey / Amiri Baraka To Perform ‘WISE WHY’S Y’S’ At The Southern
Amiri Baraka (formerly known as Leroi Jones) is one of the nation’s premiere poets as well as a renowned social critic, music theorist, and essayist. His work ‘WISE WHY’S Y’S’ is to be performed this Fall on October 15th at the Southern Theater by local activist/performer E.G. Bailey. According to the press release from tru Ruts, Baraka himself will actually be part of the performance as well as a company of dancers, musicians and spoken-word artists. For someone of Baraka’s stature, the price of only seven bucks for the show is a steal. You can pick up tickets here.
More on the show (from Tru Ruts):
E.G. Bailey adapts Amiri Baraka’s Wise Why’s Y’s, an epic journey through the history of Africans in America, and a perfect blend of avant-garde poetry with the griot consciousness. Paying homage to Langston’s Ask Your Mama, William Carlos William’s Patterson, and Melvin B. Tolson’s Liberia alike, it attempts to articulate the history of a people or a place. Wise Why’s Y’s questions and answers broad themes of history and cultural identity.
Internationally renowned poet, playwright, musician, jazz critic and novelist, Amiri Baraka, along with a collective of dancers, musicians, and spoken-word artists, perform at the Southern Theater in this fresh adaptation by Bailey of his book Wise Why’s Y’s, a provocative yet honest conversation about race, class and identity. Baraka is widely recognized as one of the most important artists of the 20th century, contributing to not only poetry, music, theatre and fiction but also as a tireless activist for change.
Bailey works with an all star ensemble. He collaborates with choreographer Aneka McMullen, to thread movement as an essential element that transforms the language of the text into an added character. The dance ensemble also includes Leah Nelson and Julie Warder. The musicians include Kevin Washington, who leads an ensemble of Chris Cox (Trombone), Anthony Cox (bass), Truthmaze (percussion) and vocalist Jamela Pettiford. Set design contributions provided by Twin Cities visual artist, Ta-Coumba Aiken and production/directing assistance by Sha Cage. Also performing with Baraka will be J. Otis Powell!, a stalwart of the spoken word community.
This highly experimental evening is a work-in-progress that Bailey has envisioned with plans to develop it into a multi-layered spoken word theater work. Though unique in its own right, the project carries influences of the Langston Hughes Project’s Ask Your Mama, Sekou Sundiata’s 51st (dream) state, Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, and Bill T. Jones’ Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Hopes are to develop it into a large scale project seeking to cross boundaries and help ignite a dialogue around race and class in this 21st century.