Last month (Jan. 23-25), CalArts’ student organization The Collective took a road trip to San Francisco to collaborate with American Conservatory Theater (ACT) and the African American Shakespeare Company (AASC) on three plays: two staged readings of Road Kill Giant and Slow Drift by playwright Aleshea Harris (Theater MFA 14) at ACT’s Costume Shop Theater and a performance of The Depth of Black Art at the AASC, a play devised by the late visiting artist James Avery.
Led by ACT Resident Artist and co-founder of The Collective, Tyrone Davis (Theater MFA 12), and manager, producer and current Collective president, Carol A. Simon (Theater MFA 14), 21 CalArtians collaborated on the projects that highlight African-American cultural expressions.
More about each play from Simon:
Road Kill Giant, directed by CalArts alum Marina McClure (Theater MFA 12), is a darkly comedic circus-play set in a landscape rife with all manner of “freaks”, animals and maybe, giants. In this story of putting things back together following a tragic accident, a teenage girl struggles to reclaim herself while her mother seeks connection with a circus bear. Slow Drift directed by Davis, is a short play about a sister and brother grappling with the past and struggling for moments of magic. The Depth of Black Art, [directed by Jozben Barrett (Theater MFA 12)], is inspired by the Black Arts Movement of the 60’s and 70’s led by poet and playwright Amiri Baraka, which began in Harlem and migrated west to San Francisco, California. In honor of this movement, The Depth of Black Art featured interdisciplinary performances of poetry, dance, instrument & vocal music, and black inspired drama.
The Depth of Black Art was first performed at CalArts by The Collective in 2012, directed by Avery, who passed away on Dec. 31 of last year. A celebrated actor best remembered for his role as Uncle Phil in the 1990s television sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Avery was also an integral part of the formation of The Collective, and hosted The Collective’s Celebrity Panel in February 2012.
The Collective is an arts organization that strives to establish spaces in which artists present and preserve African-American cultural expressions, cultivate their craft, generate new and interpretive work and share their stories by means of collaborative and experimental performances.
Other CalArtians involved in the San Francisco productions included:
- Paul Nabil Matthis (Music MFA 13)
- Tatiana Williams (Theater BFA 11)
- A’raelle Flynn Bolden (Theater BFA 14)
- TaiReikca Glover (Theater MFA 16)
- Jonathan Bangs (Theater BFA 16)
- Jessica Evans (Theater BFA 13)
- Roberto Martin (Theater BFA 14)
- Dionna Daniel (Theater BFA 17)
- Jessica Reed (Theater MFA 13)
- Jaron Crespi (Music BFA 17)
- Donna Simone-Johnson (Theater MFA 14)
- Aeriel Ventrano (Theater MFA 14)
- Jahcobie Cosom (Film/Video BFA 12)
- Jacob Gibson (Theater BFA 15)
- Justin Jackson (Music BFA 16)
- Sade Austin (Dance BFA 17)