StoryCorps
12.9.17 StoryCorps.jpg

By: Mama Kay

My aunt Alma Roberts, Senior Program Manager for Kaiser Permanente, shared that StoryCorps was looking for stories dealing with families and mental health. She thought that Ola and I would be a perfect match. She sent me her boss' information, and we said that we were definitely interested. We filled out the proper forms, StoryCorps producers got in touch with us for this project, and they called us from LA. They sent us questions, possible questions, because the whole process is for one family member who deals with mental issues to interview the other family member who also deals with mental health issues.

On Saturday morning of December 9th, we made our way in the snow to Baltimore Studios (231 Holiday Street), near downtown Baltimore. We were met at the door by some of the producers, and we chatted because the interview before us was still going on. They took us through and turned on the mics and just had us go for it. We talked for 30 minutes and you know he would tell us how much time we had left. In that interview, we laughed, we cried, and I thank God for the virtues, because we gave each other acknowledgement. I really listened to Ola, and talking to the radio audience who might hear her story. I really listened and learning more about that process. I acknowledged her, Kaiser Permanente, StoryCorps; we were so fucking grateful to have that time and how rich it was.

I guess since we’ve been dealing with mental health all these years, we believed that it would be an easy task for us to discuss it. It was very poignant, emotional, funny, clear, and hopeful that we can help others who have struggled with suicide attempts, hypersexuality, alcoholism, drug addictions, as they climbed through the web of mental health challenges. I’m so proud of Ola and her openness in her fight to heal. The fact that she works as an employment specialist for those who have mental health challenges. She finds that so rewarding to work for that community that she belongs to. It makes her stop hiding and it made me proud to come from a family that struggles to combat mental health issues but are triumphant.

Then afterwards we walked to Ida B’s Table (235 Holliday Street) and shared brunch together in a perfect little spot as the snow fell.

Wedding of David and Doralee
FB_IMG_1512847741573.jpg

By: Dr. David Fakunle

I’ll start with the beginning. I first laid eyes on Doralee in 2001, because there was a show that WombWork did at Theatre Project. I remember the exact scene where Doralee and Ola dressed as prostitutes, and I was in the audience and I laid eyes on Doralee and I said, “Oh I like her!” Ola wrote that part of the performance. That’s when I first saw Doralee on the first time. It wasn’t long after that that my sister and I joined Nu World. So you know, I’m in the company and once in a while Doralee would show up. It was a classic example of her being out of my league. And I always thought that she was so much older than me. Other than just the way she held herself, I always saw herself as much older and more mature; a woman. And it was always just hi or hello and nothing deeper.

Doralee and Ola Performing

Doralee and Ola Performing

FB_IMG_1512865962996.jpg
FB_IMG_1512929978574.jpg

Fast forward to 2010, and I was starting back up with Nu World, because I was working in Virginia and I got a job with social security. On Facebook, there was this game where people would post numbers and anyone among their friends would take this number and you can find someone out about me. And trying to be cool, I put it out there that anyone who wants to say something for me can just message and send me. I was in the back of social security training and on Facebook. Then I received a message on December 7th 11:35pm from Doralee; I read it the next morning in class. It read, “I feel like there’s always something you wanted to tell me, but then again it might be wrong.”

24991392_10214218795845851_890462059079037039_n.jpg

At that point, I broke down and cried. And I’m in the back of the room so no one saw it. I don’t know what gave it away, but she saw right through me. And it was a Wednesday, and I had rehearsal that night. I snuck out of the rehearsal room, and I called her and told her everything. That Friday night, we went on our first date, and we’ve been together ever since. I had to cut out a few women out of my life ever since haha. After the honeymoon period, we continued and I didn’t realize just how emotionally damaged I was. She allowed me to tap into emotions that I didn’t know I had. She was relentless with me and stuck with me even though I’ve pushed her away many times. And we’ve been a team, raising this kid and doing our best with this. So that is why we chose this date on the 8th, initially we were just gonna go to the courthouse. We realized that we couldn’t do this without our friends and family. We were gonna do it originally at our friend’s house, and then at a community center but that cost too much money, but then we realized that we could just do it at WombWork. It was the universe working the way it had to. And it was awesome seeing the people who came out to show their support in it coming together. That’s our style, we put things together to get everything together. It worked out perfectly and it describes our relationship in a nutshell. She balances me in a lot of ways.

24991425_10155699180485664_4147937351573821936_n.jpg
24991321_10214218792205760_2110478197106290295_n.jpg
Young Audiences and Child First Authority: Preparing for Kwanzaa
IMG_1677.JPG

By: Stevanie A. Williams

WombWork Productions, Inc. is so excited to be a part of Baltimore's Young Audience's and Child First Authority's Programming happening in various schools around the city.  Through Young Audience's in-school programming at Dorothy I. Height, after-school programming in Johnston Square, and Child First Authority's after-school programs at Furman Templeton and Dr. Bernard Harris, WombWork has been able to aid in the mission of developing youth by strengthening and reforming schools and giving opportunities which provide high quality after school and in-school programs.

WombWork has the great task of working with youth Pre-k to fifth grade at Dorothy I. Height. Scholars at these elementary institutions have the opportunity to receive everything from virtues training and theater, to bucket drumming, singing and dance.  

IMG_1685 (1).PNG

As the holidays approach WombWork artist at all these schools are preparing the scholars for their holiday performances in which each will be giving information about Kwanzaa and sharing songs, dance and facts about the holiday, African American history, and the resilience of families. Starting on December 18th at Dorothy I. Height and ending at Furman Templeton on December 21st, all scholars will share with their families, school community and friends what they have learned and give an all out performance spreading the joy and spirit of Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa Tour 2017 Begins!
Jubilee 1.JPG
IMG_0498.JPG

by: Olayinka Lawal

On Friday, December 2nd, Next Generation Art Ensemble opened Jubilee Center’s Winter Celebration at New Song Academy with their exciting Kwanzaa Show that educates while entertains audiences.  The lively cast of 5-12 year old sang, danced and gave homage to our ancestors. Next Generation shared a complete history of Dr. Maulena Karenga seven principles from Umoja to Imani, and examined the present day oppression we strive to overcome today. The audience of over 100 men, women, and children erupted with excitement to the youth rapping ‘I'm going beast mode /don't you know we’re in a War/ I love my people so I know what I'm fighting for!!’ The crowd was on the edge of their seats as Charles Watson lead of half of the cast on bucket drums, Djembe, and Dundun and they watched West African dance for a spectacular finale.

Next Generation was followed by the Jubilee Arts Ballet class, Hip-Hop class, and fashion show presentation. Food was served and New Song Academy in Sandtown-Windchester hosted the program for friends and family.

Creative Alliance.PNG

On December 3rd Mama Rashida, Urban Foli’s founder Baba Menes Yahudah, and Brother Charles Watson gave a 15 minute presentation at Creative Alliance. Mama Rashida opened with the song, ‘Kwanzaa is a Holiday’ and taught the principles and symbols of the African- American tradition. Mama Rashida taught a South African song in the Zulu language called Sin Gin Gin. This is a freedom song that means, our mother prayed for us and we will never give up the struggle for total freedom.  Mama Rashida also taught a West African Dance called Funga, one of the first dances that are taught to dance students. She closed with ‘Kwanzaa is Holiday’ and the audience of 50 people experienced an interactive African performance.

If you want to see a live performance we will be at the The National Great Blacks and Wax Museum 1601-03 East North Avenue on December 26th 2017 and Henderson Hopkins School 2100 Ashland Ave and Eubie Blake Cultural Arts Center 847 N Howard St on December 28th 2017. Contact the venue for times. We are also available for bookings. Contact us to come and perform for you.

Mama Rashida in Coppin State University's Tell Pharaoh Show
Flyer--TELL PHARAOH (final) 11-15-2017-page-001.jpg

by: Mama Rashida

“Tell Pharaoh” is a musical written by Loften Mitchell. It is directed by my theatre teacher and a mentor to many…Professor Willie O. Jordan.  As an elder who has returned to school, (I’m a Junior at CSU) I feel so honored to be on stage with my fellow cast members who are such talented young performers.  I feel so honored to once again to be able to tell the story of Africans born in America, whose contributions to this country and to the world must always be remembered. If you can’t find Mama Rashida, I am somewhere studying new choreography, songs, or my lines. My lines!!!! I am being paid back for every time I said to the cast at WombWork, “You had better come back here with those lines memorized.” LOL!!! Hard work and fun!!!! Come join us for evening of music, dance and live theatre.

Press Release:

BALTIMORE—The Coppin Repertory Theatre will conclude the 2017-2018 Social Justice Theatre Season with Loften Mitchell’s concert drama, Tell Pharaoh: The Cries Of Africa’s New World Children. Performances are scheduled December 8-11, 2017 in the Theatre Lab, located on the lower level of the Grace Jacobs Building.  Show times are 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Monday; 3:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Tell Pharaoh is a live docu-drama woven with theatre . . . spoken word . . . song and dance . . . on a journey that chronicles the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the African American’s journey to America.

Highly regarded as a playwright, historian, author, librettist and teacher, Loften Mitchell (1919-2001) was an early leader of the black theater movement. His critical works, such as Black Drama: The Story of the American Negro in the Theatre (1967) and Voices of the Black Theatre (1975), documents the contributions of African Americans to the theatre.  His plays include Blood in the Night (1946), A Land Beyond the River (1957), Tell Pharaoh (1963, 1987), the Off-Broadway musical Ballad for Bimshire (1963) and Broadway’s Tony-nominated musical, Bubblin’ Brown Sugar (1975).

UMBC Student Leaders and Community Leaders at BlackBox Theatre
umbcblackbox-15.jpg

by: Marvin Roxas

"You get to know people by listening to them."
~Mama Deborah

"I usually don't get listened to..."
~UMBC Student

On Wednesday November 29th, 20 student leaders and community leaders from UMBC's Choice Program came to the WombWork Black Box Theatre to participate in a virtues training and discussion about talking about race. Facilitated by Mama Kay and Mama Rashida, the event opened up with participants introducing themselves and the virtue that most resonated with them at that moment in their lives. The group then paired off and spent five minutes actively listening to each other share both their darkest moment in their lives and their most shining moment in their lives. Other activities involved sharing personal viewpoints, perceptions, and opinions about race within small groups.

umbcblackbox-17.jpg
umbcblackbox-12.jpg
umbcblackbox-9.jpg

The power of this workshop came from student leaders finding common ground to connect with one another's stories and recognize that they are not alone despite their differences. At the end of the event, students and community leaders shared in a meal catered by the local Agape House Catering.

umbcblackbox-5.jpg
umbcblackbox-2.jpg
umbcblackbox-14.jpg