Permission Tour
Lightcity

Permission.  Nu World Art Ensemble has tackled the issue of sexual assault in a 45 minute production filled with honest stories about rape culture. The cast members use dance and music to tell the story of alcohol and drugs, misogyny, victim blaming, blurred lines, and myths about rape and sexual assault. Our piece also sheds light on the male survivors, and the survivors in the LGBTQ+ community, voices that are not always heard.

 Stella, Sis. Mothyna, Ola, Parrish and Louis at Mount Vernon Place Square Take Back The Night

Stella, Sis. Mothyna, Ola, Parrish and Louis at Mount Vernon Place Square Take Back The Night

LightcityLabs

Nu World Art Ensemble would like our audience to remember that rape and sexual assault is about power and control. Survivors are never responsible for their assaults.

Our first performance was on April 18th at Light city Health Labs. We presented a five minute presentation of the larger performance. The Health Labs topic was health disparities in depressed communities and the untreated trauma of a sexual assault has lasting mental and physical health issues for survivors.

On April 19th we performed Permission at Morgan State University. We have performed there for several years but this performance was the most well attended and best received. After the performance several of the students wanted to know more about our company and work with us in the future.  

TurnAround Inc. invited us to perform a short excerpt of Permission for the Take Back the Night Vigil and Rally on April 26th. We performed outside in Mt. Vernon Square and were honored to share the space with survivors that presented their stories.  

We did not stop in April. Mama Rashida Forman-Bey, our founder and an Urban Arts major at Coppin University, directed our Permission show for her final project on May 15th and the directors of the program gave glowing reviews.

Nu World will continue our tour with upcoming dates in June so check our social media pages and website for time and venue. 

 Stevanie, Tobais, James Brown and Jabari at Coppin University

Stevanie, Tobais, James Brown and Jabari at Coppin University

 Mama Rashida and Ola at Coppin University

Mama Rashida and Ola at Coppin University

Rising Up Performance at The Modell Lyric
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By: Marvin Roxas

Since February 13, art instructors at WombWork Productions, Inc. partnered with BLSYW (Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women) and The Modell Lyric to produce Rising Up! Exploring Your Own Lyric. After 8 weeks of drumming, singing, dancing, storytelling, and script-writing 40 6th grade girls donned West African attire and performed their script on stage at The Modell Lyric on April 18th. The production involved original WombWork Productions, Inc. songs such as Heshima na Umoja, Take Me to the Water, Who Can I Talk To?, I Got to Love Myself, and Virtues Roll-Call. During the 8 weeks, the students kept journals where they wrote their personal reflections and answers to writing prompts concerning their personal perspectives and home life. 

The transformation was evident on April 18th, when students who were shy and did not want to participate back in February, were now speaking on the main stage. Students were leading group choreographed dances, performing solo dances, leading call-and-response chants, and presenting script lines based on memorized cues. This whole production demonstrated the WombWork methodology, that incorporated the virtues process into a healing process conveyed through art instruction. By the end of the program, the every student on the stage had their moment to share their words and share their personal stories both good and bad.

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Marvin Roxas
Ella Baker Day 2018

By Mama Kay and Mama Ola

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In Collaboration with Loyola University WombWork Productions hosted the second annual Ella Baker Day, on April 5th, 2018. We hosted the event at our Black Box theatre in West Baltimore. Next Generation Art Ensemble our youngest company ages 5-12 performed their original Ella Baker presentation; Loyola University alum Queen Earth performed and it was so awesome. Ella Baker Day is an  annual event that occurs at various locations all over the country as a way to honor and celebrate Ms. Baker’s lifetime of community organizing and civil rights activism on behalf of communities (and especially women) of color. Ella Baker Day started at Loyola in April 2017, and is an annual event held each April. Ella Baker Day allows Loyola to increase its contact and partnership with youth in our community. There was also a social justice-themed art contest from local middle and high school aged youth with two categories for submission middle and high school submissions were shown and judged. The work was brilliant and moving. The four contest winners were awarded at the end of the night. “It was so exciting to support the creative development of the youth in our community” stated the coordinator of the Emma Baker Day Emalee J Quickel, Ph.D. Assistant Professor in Department of Psychology. @ Loyola University she said, “Ella Baker Day is a great opportunity to learn from the life and experiences of Ella Baker and to better understand and connect with our own neighbors, all in the spirit of Ms. Baker’s legacy.  Well, Dr. Quickel got just what she was looking for by collaborating with WombWork Productions Inc. We pray that it will become an Annual event.

Dr. Quickel knocked on the right door.  It truly was an amazing evening with the help of our phenomenal WWP Team:

 Baba Embu head of WombWork’s Technical Team, Mama Sallah Jenkins Artist in Residence, Cheryl Hinton Performance/Visual Artist and WWP Board Member, Drummers: Charles Watson, Jumoke Ajanku, and Tobias Johnson

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Assistant Director: Stevanie Anita Williams,

 Assistants: Olayinka Lawal and Christian Harris, Donilyaha Dorsey-Green

Operation and Development Manager: Marvin Roxas

Consider WombWork hosting your next Culturally Relevant Event.

Love Always,

Mama Kay and Mama Rashida

WombWork Production Directors

www.wombwork.com

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Rising Up - In the Middle of Things

By: Marvin Roxas

It is the second half of week 5 of the 8-week Rising Up project with BLSYW (Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women). Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, WombWork Productions, Inc. instructors spend two hours working with two classes of 6th grade girls to prepare them to create, share, and eventually present their stories in the form of a script onstage at The Modell Lyric. Thus far WombWork Productions, Inc. instructors, dancers, drummers, and singers have facilitated classes that introduce students to theatrical skills, virtues engagement, and storytelling. This week marks a pivotal stage in the program, because now a script based off of the students' work must be created, incorporated, and brought together before being presented at The Modell Lyric.

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Marvin Roxas
Nu World Works on Improv

By: Marvin Roxas

Tavish Forsyth, who joined the Baltimore Improv Group in the fall of 2014, has been facilitating comedy improv sessions with the Nu World Art Ensemble Wednesday evenings at the WombWork BlackBox Theatre. This has involved a blending of different cultural backgrounds and methods. Activities ranged from word association games to role-playing exercises intending to impart improvisational skills onto Nu World Art Ensemble members. Exercises and activities facilitated by Tavish brought ensemble members outside of their comfort zone in an attempt to grow the troupe's skills in a different direction. 

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Marvin Roxas
Truth, Racial Healing, & Transformation Conference
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By: Stevanie Williams

On Friday, January 19th, I was blessed to be chosen to attend the "Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation"(TRHT) conference sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). This conference was designed to assist TRHT Campus Center teams and individual guests in developing transformative Action Plans to advance racial healing. I was appointed to be the Community Partner advocate for our theater company, WombWork Productions, Inc. in collaboration with University of Maryland Baltimore County's Shriver Center.  UMBC's Shriver center addresses critical social challenges by bridging campus and community through engaged scholarship and applied learning.  Faculty and students who have chosen to do this work have come to WombWork seeing us as a representation and a voice for the community.   AAC&U is a sector partner in the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's TRHT effort, a national, community based process to engage people in racial healing and to catalyze efforts to address inequities grounded in the belief of racial hierarchies in this case, on college campuses around the country.  To address the top leaders in administration of each institution and educate them on racial equity.

 

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I had the pleasure of traveling to D.C. with my new friend and colleague Marvin Roxas who would also be attending part of the conference, and what a ride it was. Very relaxing and informative as we got to discuss our lives, past, present and future.  We arrived in Georgetown to the wonderful Westin hotel in our nation's capital, Washington, D.C. and were happily greeted by the UMBC team. Already hard at work but inviting with smiles and firm hugs were Frank Anderson, Assistant Director of the Shriver Center, Eric Ford, Director of Operations, Sherella Cupid, Doctoral Student in Language, Literacy and Culture and the fastest note taker I've ever met. And Jasir , Undergrad student.  Later I would also meet Jordan Harper, Interdisciplinary Studies Major.  I checked in, received my credentials, and went to my illustrious room! Great accomodations. I was so excited, and nervous, but ready.  I return to the lobby, join the team and move to the Washington Conference room. Together we would take on this conference to see what it has to offer. We jump in engaged and ready for the weekend's events!

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As we enter the Washington room we meet teams representing college campuses, organizations, and communities from around the nation.  We would get seats in the front, Baltimore style (lol) and get settled for the afternoon/evening events. We were greeted by the faculty and facilitators of AAC&U and the TRHT team. They explained goals and objectives for the weekend. That there would be healing circles and workshops to open up each individual to the work surrounding TRHT, team time to pull together a plan of action for each institution represented, and meals provided to give space to nourish the body and network!

Next we would experience a performance from award-winning actress, producer and educator Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni.  This one woman show entitled "One Drop of Love" is a multi-media, audience participatory show exploring the intersections of race, class, gender, justice, and love. It is also her personal story and shines the light on interracial relationships. She expresses the challenges of being raised in a bi-racial, multi-cultural family, the curse of having to identify and be classified as one race or ethnicity, and the glory of finding love.  Fanshen's story and performance opened up the atmosphere and made it free for conversation and acknowledgement of the issues surrounding race, class, gender, and how those componets have an effect on our justice system and has conditioned specific races to systematic love.  Meeting Fanshen and her brother was an honor, and her performance was informative, awakening and inspiring. This show is definitely a must see.

 Winston Cox, Fanshen Cox-DiGionanni, Jasir Qiydaar, Sherella Cupid, Stevanie Williams

Winston Cox, Fanshen Cox-DiGionanni, Jasir Qiydaar, Sherella Cupid, Stevanie Williams

After our amazing show experience it was time for dinner.  Even though I can never guess which one is the salad fork and which one is the dinner fork, I was able to eat to my hearts content. During dinner, I had the pleasure of meeting the team hired to film the conference,  Evolved Cinema. Leading that team was Hunter Hughes, director/cinematographer, University of Atlanta graduate in film, music production and interracial studies.  I was also able to meet and chat with Omar Harbison, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success. for AAC&U.  who also gave me tickets to go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. That experience is another blog in itself. We exchanged cards and contact information and I was able to give info about WombWork and our collaboration with UMBC's Shiver Center. How we are working together to learn, explore, and educate on the issues surrounding race in various creative collaborations.

The atmosphere  was charged. Everyone in attendance  is there for the same cause and ready to be informed and get to work. 

After dinner, I was beat. It was time to retire to my room and rest up for Saturday's workshops!

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Saturday was filled with workshops and continued conversations on topics surrounding Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation. The day would prove not to be just about facts and statistics but engaging and being a part of the work. Our day started with being separated into groups to experience Healing Circles. A healing circle helps to aid in preventing reactive communication. It encourages deeper listening and reflection in conversation. For TRHT healing circles provide a means for people who are prohibited from talking to one another be cause of social and cultural differences, a chance to speak and be heard.  We were showed how to conduct the circle, to respect silence and speak our own truths. We were able to share our personal stories, triumphs and failures and how it all came to relate to our differences in race. 

 Sherella Cupid (UMBC), Facilitators: Monica Haslip, Founder/Executive Director,  Little Black Pearl  & Mike Wenger, Sr. Fellow AAC&U; Sr. Consultant on Race Relations, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Stevanie Williams (WWP)

Sherella Cupid (UMBC), Facilitators: Monica Haslip, Founder/Executive Director, Little Black Pearl & Mike Wenger, Sr. Fellow AAC&U; Sr. Consultant on Race Relations, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Stevanie Williams (WWP)

The rest of the day was filled with workshops on Implicit Bias, Curating and Healing the community, Cultural Connections and Academic Success, and Racial Hierarchies on college campuses. Each giving pertinent information and strategies to use when having conversations about racial inequity on college campuses, and how to be proactive in creating true transformation.  Each providing a chance to have dialogue with my fellow conference attendees about the information shared with us. I was a wet sponge soaked with information.  Later my UMBC family and I would get together and debrief about the day and start to put our Action Plan into motion. Sadly I would be leaving Sunday but my fellow co-worker and Operations and Development Manager, Marvin Roxas, would come on Sunday to take my place on the team. 

By: Marvin Roxas

On Sunday I arrived at the Westin and met up with the UMBC team. I instantly started working on the TRHT Campus Center Action Plan that integrated the goals necessary to actualize the TRHT Campus Center's vision, action steps, intended outcomes, evaluation strategies, engagement plans, and sustainable visions concerning how to continue partnerships and projects. The team stayed up late on Sunday night in order to put together a usable action plan that would involve partnering with WombWork Productions, Inc. as a community partner alongside The Shriver Center, The Choice Program, and UMBC's student population. 

Knowing that one of the weak points in smaller programs and organizations involves monitoring and evaluation, I attended the breakout Evaluation Presentation workshop by Jessica Estevez, Edwin Estevez, and Jim Zahniser. The presentation discussed how to qualify evaluative methods and distinguish between summative vs. formative evaluations. Throughout the day, I had the opportunity to network with other education facilitators scattered throughout the country who wanted to learn more about this work. I remember smiling during a conversation with a woman who very well have been describing their version of WombWork Productions, Inc. in her home state and a partnership with a local university.

Towards the end of my time at this conference, I discussed with Frank and the UMBC team of ways that we could help one another and grow together in a tangible community model that blends together the virtues, healing circles, theatre arts instruction, and racial/cultural healing.

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Marvin Roxas