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.

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. 

Marvin Roxas
Truth, Racial Healing, & Transformation Conference

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.



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!


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!


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.

Marvin Roxas
Celebrating Mary Carter Smith's Life and Legacy

by: Olayinka Lawal

Next Generation joined Baba Bunjo Butler,  Dr. David Fakunle, Duane “Djembe” Hinton, Kendell and Karron, Rodney 'Prince' Moore, Brother Nile to celebrate Queen Mother Mama Mary Carter Smith.  On a rainy February 4, 2018, The National Blacks in Wax Museum held almost 100 people to celebrate our most esteemed ancestor. Hosted by Dr. David Fakunle, the presentation began with an emotionally stirring reading by Dr Joanna Martin; an original Mary Carter Smith poem dedicated to Dr. Elmer Martin.  Baba Bunjo Butler was next with an original piece called "I Love Being Dark" which was performed with the cool virbrato of a jazz musician. Then brother Nile came out and told the story of Harriett Tubman in front of a large quilt and explained the meaning of the hidden messages sewn into quilts and journey through the underground railroad.

Growing Griots Literacy Learning Program graduates were awarded certificates for continuing to share in the African Oral Tradition. One of the awardees, Rodney 'Prince' Moore gave a fiery performance, their ode to the 'Black Boy'.

 Rodney 'Prince' Moore

Rodney 'Prince' Moore

Next Generation began with drumming and gave libations to our ancestors in song, dance, and acting. They discussed how violence in our communities has become normal and the cycle must end. Next Generation's performance closed with West African dance. 

The evening ended with the powerful and uplifting "Soliders" performance by the duo KenRon. Guests dined and shared stories about their memories of Mama Mary Carter Smith as they slowly trickled out of the museum.   

 Ms. Deborah Fakunle with the wax figure of Queen Mary Carter Smith

Ms. Deborah Fakunle with the wax figure of Queen Mary Carter Smith

 Next Generation

Next Generation

 KenRon performing "Soldiers"  

KenRon performing "Soldiers"  



 Mama Rashida and Mama Kay 

Mama Rashida and Mama Kay 

Nu World Resurrection - First General Meeting

By: Marvin Roxas

"minute by minute, hour by hour, if truth is light, then knowledge is power..."
~Mama Rashida


On Wednesday, both new and old members of Nu World Art Ensemble met together at the WombWork BlackBox Theatre to discuss plans, organization and ideas for the reunion and rebirth of the adult theatre troupe of WombWork Productions, Inc. We shared stories about seasonal in-house performances, upcoming productions, and community agreements that would hold Nu World Art Troupe members accountable. 

Rising Up! Planning Sessions

by: Marvin Roxas

WombWork Productions, Inc. has been diligently planning their work on an 8-week curriculum in partnership with The Modell Lyric Performing Arts Center that will take place in two Baltimore City schools. The aim is to incorporate the WombWork Productions, Inc. virtues training and theatrical skills methodology into a personalized script-writing program where middle school students will have the opportunity to perform scripts that showcase and share their own personalized stories. The end products will include a published book of the students' stories, a video about the curriculum and script-making process, and a whole-day performance of the students' work at The Modell Lyric Performing Arts Center.