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“MinorityLand” is a fictional place. Or is it?

minorityland

As the social and economical climate of Philadelphia begins to shift in new directions, reticulated communities are being altered for the sake of urban renewal. Universities and corporations expand and infringe upon the delicate network of our beloved neighborhoods for the sake of student housing, strip malls and luxury condominiums. Despite the swelling within these gentrified areas, the concerns of the affected communities go unheard, collecting dust upon the shelves of urban well-being for the sake of higher property values.

MinorityLand, the inaugural production of Power Street Theatre Ensemble, focuses directly upon the impact of metropolitan reform and the people it affects. Gabriela Sanchez, founder and co-artistic director of Power Street Theatre Company, explains why “minority land” exists, and why it shouldn’t.

Describe the show in your own words.
MinorityLand is a world where a community of diverse people have struggles, passions and thoughts that become alive on stage. Power Street Theater’s debut production, MinorityLand, explores the existing conditions and the effects within the parameters of the “minority” terminology. What does it mean to be a minority, whether if that is through gender, sexuality or race? Within a “minority” paradigm, one’s identity is bound by the confines of ignorance and labeled as inferior when in fact, those hearts and minds possess first-rate potential and the capacity to become a positive change agent for themselves and the world at large. Also, MinorityLand tackles what it means to be a community. When gentrification strikes in a neighborhood similar to Temple University, residents are forced out, and everything they have ever known is gone.

What was your inspiration for this project? minorityland
My inspiration for MinorityLand was to give a voice to the unheard voices; those same exact people who are considered “minorities” are my family, friends, students, mentors, and the list could go on and on. As a young Latina girl, I grew up in University City, where there wasn’t much representation of Latinos at that time; however, a variety of cultures empowered the streets with loud music, block parties and food that would satisfy every taste bud. My second home was North Philly— “El Barrio”—where diversity continued to exist in the streets and always captured my eye. Each block became a family over the years and experienced ups and downs together. I must say, I miss those days when kids made something out of nothing, when everyone looked out for one another and when unconditional love overpowered dysfunction.

Diversity is my inspiration as an individual and an artist, which explains my need for creating a multicultural theatre company called Power Street. Power Street Theater Company’s mission is to provide each young voice with a venue to become a catalyst for positive change through artistic expression.

Describe your background as an artist.
For the last two years, I have organized a diverse theatre company with fellow artists, produced and directed script readings and plenary meetings, in addition to producing fundraisers and community outreach events, including open-mic nights for aspiring artists in Philadelphia. I graduated from Philadelphia’s Creative and Performing Arts High School and received a Bachelor of Arts in theater from Temple University. Upon graduating, I was hired at Taller Puertorriqueño for the position of cultural enrichment & facility manager.

I am extremely excited for Power Street’s first premiere of MinorityLand! I would like to thank my parents for always believing in my dreams; my grandmother, Obdulia Perez, for showing me unconditional love; my sister, Quiara Alegria Hudes, for exposing me to the theater world; my mentor, Judy Nelson, and each member of Power Street, who hold a very special place in my heart. Power Street‘s ambition, drive and passion goes beyond the ensemble members. It is a chain reaction through the encouragement of their mentors, families, friends and supporters!

What is one of your fondest memories within the community that the show focuses on?
MinorityLand focuses on a community of people who laugh, cry, dance and argue together while becoming a family of their own. Each character is so clearly different by their physical appearances, but most importantly, by their way of thinking. The characters are constantly challenging one another on spicy topics; however, we learn as the audience that the unconditional love that Mama Julia instills in each one of them overpowers any negative energy that tries to rip them apart. Mama Julia reminds me of my grandmother, who was the leader of the block, the wise lady who always told a story with a lesson to learn and would give her last plate of food to a homeless person. She was a woman who everyone loved and respected.

How do you think members of a minority community can resist the more detrimental affects of gentrification?
I think that members of a minority community can resist the more detrimental affect of gentrification by reaching out to various community organizations that can educate them on how to buy homes instead of renting for 20+ years. In theory, I believe that teaching people how to help themselves is extremely effective. People can eventually own their own homes, and the communities will be more stable by educating people on how to purchase homes, budget and, most importantly, maintain a mortgage. I constantly think about how we can move forward as a community and create equal opportunity. Something that comes to mind is to not consistently depend on the system, but instead depend on yourself. My dad would always tell me this saying: “You don’t give a man a fish. You teach a man how to fish.”

MinorityLand runs Sept. 13 – 15. Times vary. $10. Taller Puertorriqueño, 2557 North 5th Street. fringearts.ticketleap.com/minorityland



“Dreadfully White” a charming portrayal of a dreadful topic

dreadfullywhite

The statistics surrounding domestic violence in this country are staggering: Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. In fact, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined. Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.

With these and many other heart-wrenching facts, how can a set of Styrofoam heads hope to convey the severity of the situation, and entertain at the same time? With her one-woman show, Dreadfully WhiteSusan Pope captures the attention with an alarming and intelligent attempt to educate and enlighten audiences about the experience of growing up in a violent home.

Describe the show in your own words.
Dreadfully White is a visual experience, and it tells the story through imagery as much as through words. I play a main character at various ages from childhood to adulthood, and the story is seen through her evolving perspective as she grows up. There’s an element of the absurd (and even humor) in the play, which reflects the absurdity of the child’s home environment that she is struggling to make sense of.

What was your inspiration for this project?
The play came out of a workshop on creating original solo work for the stage which I took with an artist named Daniel Stein at the Del’Arte International School of Physical Theatre in California. Daniel asked us to bring a prop which had “inherent theatricality,” and I brought a Styrofoam head. Through the very intuitive and improvisational work we did with Daniel, a story began to evolve around the head—a story that related to things I was trying to sort out at the time regarding my own family. At that time, my father was old and blind and going deaf, and he was becoming dependent on the people he had abused. Meanwhile, the rest of us were becoming more healthy, and the question going around in my head was “Are you afraid now that you are dependent on those you abused? Because you should be.” My father had an amazing ability to self-delude, and I wondered whether he had so successfully self-deluded himself that he no longer remembered what he had done or whether deep down, he remembered and was, on some level, afraid of us. And this question became the spine of the play.

Describe the nature of your artistic background.
I really try to study with people who’ve trained with theatre masters, and my performance and applied theatre work has been informed by teachers who studied under Stella Addler, spopedreadfullywhiteEtienne Decroux, Augusto Boal and Keith Johnstone, among others. In particular, my perspective on acting changed dramatically after my study with Daniel Stein, as I began to see myself as an actor/creator and to create original work. I was also privileged to do a three-week intensive with Pig Iron Theatre here in Philadelphia this past summer, doing mask and Lecoq-based clown training.

I live in rural Kentucky with my family. I love that quiet life, but it has required me to focus more on solo work as an artist. Dreadfully White is currently my primary touring production. I also perform at a wonderful historic site called Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, and I work in K-12 schools through the Kentucky Arts Council helping teachers integrate theatre across the curriculum.

Was dealing with domestic violence a factor in your personal or professional life?
The play was certainly inspired by my own personal experience as a child growing up in a violent home, where the abuse was enabled by my family’s religious environment. But as I began to develop the play, I did a great deal of research in order to incorporate other people’s experience as well. Furthermore, the play is abstract enough that people tend to see their own experience in the piece. That’s why the talkbacks are so interesting, as all these imagined stories come together.

How do you think others can begin to eliminate domestic fear within their own lives?
Well, I can only tell you my own experience. I was trained in my family’s system of self-delusion, so that when I went into counseling as an adult, I insisted that there had been no abuse in my family and instead repeated all the justifications that had been repeated over and over in my childhood. And when I perform for college audiences now, I tell them if I had seen this play as a college student, I would have thought it had nothing to do with my life. Furthermore, when I do applied theatre workshops, I find that participants of all ages can jump in and play those self-deluding roles so well. We all seem to know those lines. So it seems to me that becoming aware of and articulating the justifications that everyone uses to rationalize family violence is the first step toward change and healing for a person raised in that environment.

Have you received any backlash from environmental groups regarding your usage of Styrofoam in the show?
Not yet! I think environmentalists have a lot more disturbing things to worry about than Styrofoam heads!

Dreadfully White runs Sept 13, 14, 16, & 17. Times vary. $12. The PlayGround at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom Street. fringearts.ticketleap.com/dreadfully-white



Street Snaps: Betty Betty

This heat wave is a killer, huh. Everybody is sweatin hard, trying to keep from looking like an absolute mess. I swear, the humidity is making it hard for me to focus (my manual lens, that is). But look at this vision, all in pink. A cool and structured lady, whose repeating kiss prints make for a flirty look without being too pushy.

“My name is Charima. I’m twenty years old, I’m from Philadelphia, Southwest.”

Is there a specific trend you’ve been seeing lately that you wish would just curl up and die?

“Curl up and die? I dunno. I have a specific style that I really, really like – like the 80s, 60s type look. Hippie, crop tops, high waists…”

So is there a specific thing you wish you would see more of then?

“More sixties, eighties. That kinda stuff. But it’s coming out a lot. Even the hairstyles – the bob, you know… The whole bowl cut…”

I like your pin curls.

“Yup, pin curls. I just pin it up. But it’s actually a curly hair? So I don’t really have to pin it up cause it’s gonna be curly anyway, but I just put the pins in there so it can have the specific curl.”

Is there anything a favorite thing that you have on right now?

“Just my bag. I love Betsy Johnson.” (laughs)

Do you go check out her store in King of Prussia ever?

Yes. Yesterday I was there and the owner of the store, she was like, I don’t know why you’re here, I know you have everything in style. We didn’t get any new shipment yet. I said okaaay.”

I’ll see ya later…

“Yes. I love Betsy Johnson.”

Do you have a current obsession? It doesn’t have to deal with clothes at all.

“Mm, no. The only obsession I have is shopping. I like to shop and go out.”

Do you like to go shopping in particular areas? Are some of them better than others?

“Usually, I thought that I would rather go to the mall instead of downtown, because a lot of people would go downtown instead of traveling to the mall. But yesterday when I went to the mall, I didn’t find anything. And downtown is closer, so I probably would’ve at least found something.But I didn’t find nothing at all and I went all the way to the mall.”

Aww…

“So I went to Victoria’s Secret. (laughs) Can’t ever go wrong there!”

How would you describe your style?

“I like to swtich up a lot. I’m very versatile. I change my hairstyle. I’m very daring. So I wear stuff that I think other people won’t. I don’t think I’m doing that today, I just threw this on, cause you know, I liked the lips and everything. But…”

I mean, I really like the lips, lips, all pink, very femme – I really like that.

“Thank you.”


If you’re looking for more Philly street style, visit Broad&Market, or check out the Street Snaps archive by clicking on the “street snaps” tag just below.


Maggie Eighteen | Jul 21 2011 3:45pm | LOCAL LOVE, interview, street style, 19103, Betsy Johnson, femme, street snaps | Comment 1

Street Snaps: Charm


Armand. Age 19, from West Philadelphia.

What is a trend that you wish would stop?

“Polo boots. I’m over it. And it’s the summertime, people still shouldn’t be wearing Polo boots.”

Is there a trend you’ve started to notice, that you think is going to get popular?

“Um… Denim jackets is a big thing now, you know. And that wasn’t — they went out for a while, but now they’re back. I’m noticing that. I like that, a little bit.”

How would you describe the way you dress?

“I like to be comfortable, and I like to add a little bit of sex appeal with modesty. I know that’s a contradiction. But I still like to be modest.”


With a little bit of ‘charm.’

“Yeah, charm. Modest, with a little bit of charm. And comfortable. That’s my number one thing.”

Do you have a current obsession?

“Well I’m a little obsessed with red lipstick. I took a break today cause I had a job interview, and I didn’t want anyone to think I was crazy. But yeah, I love my red lipstick.”

Is there a favorite thing you’re wearing right now?

“My flip-flops. Just cause I throw ‘em on and go. Nice and simple.”

Do you have any comments, questions, shout-outs?

“Mm, no, not particularly. Not now. Shout out to myself.”

All right!

If you’re looking for more Philly street style, visit Broad&Market, or check out the Street Snaps archive by clicking on the “street snaps” tag just below.



Street Snaps: Summer Silhouettes

I’ve noticed that hats (not baseball caps) have, in general, come back in vogue in the city. I’m quick to say that Urban Outfitter’s presence offering of affordable hats have contributed, but then that rudely discounts all the boutiques offering quality pieces. To say the least, I have been greatly enjoying the variety and breadth of summer straw hats seen around town, and today’s Street Snaps is no exception. Continuing from last week’s more mature interviewee is this breezy example of how to dress for the summer while still being modestly clothed. And by no means is this a look confined to those of more age and experience — lengthy, ambiguous silhouettes can be so dramatic, which is almost always more head-turning than something “sexy.”

Martha, from Philadelphia.

What’s your favorite thing on today?

“On television?”

On your outfit.

“Oh, on my outfit? My shoes and my hat. Covers a multitude of sins. (laughs)”

Are there any trends that you’re tired of in Philadelphia?

“I am tired of the bare mid-drifts.”

The short, loose shirts cut into mid-drifts?

“Yeah, yeah… And I would like to see the long skirts come back. I like that!”

They’ve come back in style now.

“Yeah. (Husband suggests the ‘bare bellies’) And the bare bellies on fat people.”

Oh no! All right. Well I’ll keep the questions short here, unless you have anything else to add.

“I’m older. Very mature. Three children. Married fifty-five years — I was three, it was an arranged marriage. (laughs) No, no. But we were cyclists at one time, till my husband broke his knee and had a knee replacement. And we go to Florida for six months and live in Philadelphia across from the art museum for six months… And our life has ended up being very nice. We’re very happy. Our children are all seemingly happy.”

Elegant & subdued embellishments in dark plum polish

Nice. Do you have any tips or thoughts on cultivating a comfort in your own body?

“I always felt my job was to — and my husband felt the same way — produce these children so that they could be independent, support themselves — we weren’t rich enough to support them for the rest of their lives, we didn’t want to, and it wasn’t a question. After college, they were on their own and they had to take something in which they knew they would be able to support themselves. And that was important. We also said no to a lot of things. And whenever one of my sons says ‘you never took us to Europe‘ and ‘you never took us here‘, and I always say, and look how wonderfully you turned out. That shuts ‘em up.

“So… But you have to have a sense of humor. If you can’t laugh at life…”

Then what are you gonna do?

“My husband’s very funny. Last week we went to the Ritz, and he got me a big soda because it was free if you had to refill it. And he reached over and he poured the whole thing by accident all over me. Just before the movie started. I was sitting in wet clothes from top to bottom. But he went back and he said to the guy, ‘she was so thirsty.’ (laughs) Boy, was she thirsty! So all we could do was laugh about it at that point. But anyway, that’s not interesting.”

Well it’s always interesting to hear what people have to say. But anyway, any last comments?

“I love Philadelphia. I absolutely love it. I don’t like to go to Florida because I miss Philadelphia. I really do. And it has a lot to offer.”

If you’re looking for more Philly street style, visit Broad&Market, or check out the Street Snaps archive by clicking on the “street snaps” tag just below.



Street Snaps: Continuous Glamour

One day in your life, you find this one object of clothing or some accessory, and it changes your style outlook forever. It’s the day you realize that you shouldn’t wear XYZ cut or silhouette because it’s just not you. It’s the day you realize that you can appreciate someone else’s look without later attempting to copy it. Cause it’s not you. You are you. Admittedly, I secretly sigh when someone tells me “I just do me,” but it’s a legitimate response, especially when that person is so put together. This week’s Street Snaps did not cull such a response, but I just wanted to point out how nicely Alima’s glasses, eyebrows, haircut, and face shape complimented each other — to me, that demonstrates a rich self-awareness. Pair it with bold stripes and that touch of red? Yeah, let’s get into this:

“My name is Alima. I’m from Philly.”

What do you think about the style of Philadelphians? How have you seen it change since you were younger until now?

“Well, I like style a lot, but as I’ve gotten older my complaint is, a lot of things I want to wear, I feel too old to wear. Sometimes I push it, but I kinda like the fact that most people have decided to do their own thing and not worry about what everyone else thinks about it. And I wish I could do that more with myself.”

Do you have a workplace dress code or anything that holds you back like that?

“I just went through this last night. I was going to tie a big scarf as a halter, and the way I came up with it, my entire back was out. And I thought, oh this is pushin it. I feel thirty in here (touches chest), but I have to remember that I’m not.”

Is there anything you see other Philadelphians wear a lot that you wish would stop?

“Yeah, in a way. I like jeans, but on some days, does everyone have on the same uniform?”

Do you own many jeans?

“I have about ten pairs. Like I said, I like them a lot, but I don’t wanna wear them every day. And I see them more than anything else. Maybe it’s because it’s an easy thing to…”

It’s something American. Like once you go outside of the United States — or at least, I’ve been to Europe and I’ve been to Japan, and both times I was like, wow nobody wears jeans like we do. It’s crazy. But I’ve thought about it. If you go into a retail store they don’t have anything but jeans.

“True. So I like them, as I said. But some days — you can come downtown on a Saturday and that’s all you see. That’s all you see. So maybe it’s an easy default when ‘oh I don’t know what I wanna wear‘ — throw jeans on.”

Are there things you look at the get inspired, since we’re surrounded by jeans all the time?

“Mmmm… I would have to say more magazines — I’m not really inspired by the people I see on the streets, so I have to look at something else. (chuckles)”

Is there a favorite magazine you have?

“Well, I like Glamour. I guess that’s pretty much my favorite as far as fashion.”

So switching to what you’ve got on right now, is there anything you have on that’s a favorite of yours?

“Actually not. No. I’ve had this sweater for maybe three years, and I haven’t worn it for the last two. The pants, I’ve had them for about a month. And this is the first time I’ve put them on, today. Not a favorite yet, but I think these pants are so comfortable, they’re gonna become a favorite. Without a doubt.”

Do you have a current obsession?

“Uhh, no. No.”

Do you have any shout-outs or comments or anything you’d like to say to the readers?

“The readers? Be yourself.”

If you’re looking for more Philly street style, visit Broad&Market, or check out the Street Snaps archive by clicking on the “street snaps” tag just below.


Maggie Eighteen | Jun 30 2011 12:04pm | interview, street style, 19103, rittenhouse square, street snaps, work wear | Comments 7

Street Snaps: Odunde!

Did everyone enjoy Odunde a few weekends ago? Broad&Market had a post or two about the 36th annual African festival, and I’ll continue here with a third. The style was incredibly refreshing: vibrant colors, patterns, and silhouettes were seemingly concentrated into a nexus point that was South and 23rd. For example:


Michelle and family.

“I’m forty. Hometown, New York. I live in Philly.”

Is it exciting to be at a festival where everyone is encourage to wear traditional clothing?

“This is my everyday style. I’m a hair stylist, so (it’s my everyday style).”

Cool. Are there any things you take in that inspire or inform the way you want to present yourself when you get dressed?

Different blogs sometimes. Rachel Stewart’s blog… Um…I can’t think of any blogs now. I’ve seen so many! The Sartorialist? Yeah.”

I heard he was in town for the week.

“I heard! [unintelligable part :( ]”

Is there anything you’re wearing right now that’s a favorite?

“My necklace. I just like the colors.”

And do you have a current obsession?

“Earrings. Bright and big earrings. And feathers. And glasses. Yeah, that is my current obsession. Cause earrings are always my obsession. But glasses.”

Michelle has been a natural hair stylist for 15 years, and you can get in touch with her via Twitter: @yesidohrmlondon.
If you’re looking for more Philly street style, visit Broad&Market, or check out the Street Snaps archive by clicking on the “street snaps” tag just below.



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