Are You Ready for Prime Time?
A Message from the Prime Minister of Poetry, Marvin X
"I'm so glad you made me stay for the poem For the Women. That was seriously uplifting and inspiring! It was empowering to hear all those deep male voices reciting that piece to the Sistahs. Asante sana."--Phavia Kujichagulia
As per the show, there is no doubt after Saturday afternoon's performance at the Joyce Gordon Gallery that we are ready for prime time. Veteran journalist, author Jerri Lange said, "It was an afternoon of joy. Anyone who can bring joy to Oakland must be congratulated!" Journalist Rochelle Metcalf said, "Spiritually uplifted Saturday - forgot what it is like to hear some serious culture stuff!" Rev. Brandon Reems was so impressed with the performance he has agreed to co-sponsor a production of this Womanhood Rites of Passage at Oakland's Fox Theatre. Of course producer Marvin X will expand the ritual to include a Manhood Rites of Passage.
Rev. Brondon Reems, Marvin X, Ptah Mitchell preparing books purchased by the Post Newspaper Group from local author for donation to Juvenile Hall photo Gene Hazzard
Conway Jones, Jr., a board member of the Oakland Symphony has also agreed to make the Fox Theatre production a reality. Post Newspaper Group Paul Cobb has given his support to this prime time project. Conway Jones, Jr. Although Saturday's production at the Joyce Gordon Gallery was a womanhood rites of passage, it included input from men.
The Oaktown Passions singing group accompanied the men with their version of the doo wop classic Ten Commandments of Love as the men recited a call and response reading For the Women, a poem by Marvin X that was requested by the women in the production. They insisted the men read the poem in praise of women. Phavia commented on the men, "I'm so glad you made me stay for the poem For the Women. That was seriously uplifting and inspiring! It was empowering to hear all those deep male voices reciting that piece to the Sistahs. Asante sana." The production contradicts the description of Marvin X as the "Chief Misogynist in the world," as his best student, Ayodele Nzinga, described her teacher in remarks to the audience. Marvin X sees himself as the liberator of women and men from the addiction to White Supremacy patriarchal cultural domination. I know I am on the right path because too many people have congratulated me on my writings that transformed their lives. Ayodele Nzinga Ayodele did say to the women, "Her teacher is learning--he's learning!" Perhaps an old dog can do new tricks! Ayodele Nzinga may be confused about her teacher as many people are, but her performance in Opal Palmer Adisa's Bathroom Graffiti Queen left no doubt she is perhaps the very best actress the Bay Area has produced. Hunia Bradley, Minister of Ceremony Phavia Kujichagulia
Jerri Lange, Bay Area Media living legend, author After Minister of Ceremony Hunia Bradley welcomed the audience and Mutima Imani performed an astounding libation that would equal any performance that followed, the multitalented Phavia Kujichagulia, poet, singer, musician, mesmerized the audience when she opened the show with drummer Val Serant. She sang, played the trumpet and recited poetry. Phavia was a hit at the Kings and Queens of Black Consciousness Concert at San Francisco State University a few years ago, a Marvin X production that included Dr. Nathan Hare, Dr. Julia Hare, Dr. Theophile Obenga, Rev. Cecil Williams, Rev. Andriette Earl, Amina Baraka, Amiri Baraka, Destiny Muhammad, Tarika Lewis, Ishmael Reed, Kalamu Ya Salaam, Elliot Bey, Rudi Wongozi, Dr. Cornell West and Marvin X. See the DVD of this event, available from Black Bird Press. Aries Jordan We must mention Aries Jordan's performance in Vagina Monologue: powerful. As a young actress, she has the potential to excel with time and guidance. Toreadah Mikell Jasmin Conner Jasmin Conner was also strong, although a little soft spoken, especially with so many powerful voices on stage, including Tureada , Jerri Lange and Mechelle LaChaux, singer/actress. Maybe her softness is a necessary contrast to the power women. We know sometimes a soft voice can completely disarm a man! Mechelle LaChaux, singer/actress After viewing the show, a member of Allen Temple Baptist Church invited the group to perform at East Oakland's leading activist Church. The member suggested possible language change so the material will be palatable for Christians. But Rev. Reems reminded Marvin there is a segment of Christians who are broad minded enough to accept the material in its present form and the social good it will bring. Quentin Easter and Stanley Williams, founders of the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, San Francisco (both deceased, RIP). Marvin X's Recovery Theatre packed the house for his One Day in the Life, 1996-2002, the longest running play by an African American in Northern California history. Ishmael Reed says, "It's the most powerful drama I've seen." Marvin X is against all censorship, but some years ago while performing his classic One Day in the Life, a drama of his addiction and recovery, the Loraine Hansberry directors, Quentin Easter and Stanley Williams (may they rest in peace) told him, "Marvin, the black bourgeoisie would like to support you but they cannot accept your language." And so we tried to accommodate them, we drafted a B script that made Quentin exclaim, "Marvin, you took all the milk out the chocolate!" And persons in recovery who had seen the play in the original version were disgusted at the B script, a few walked out in disgust that I had capitulated to the black bourgeoisie who never supported us even with the altered, watered down, Miller Lite script. Today, we have so much material that we can make a powerful statement to any audience, Black Bourgeoisie, Christian, Muslim, hip hop, whatever, yes, even white people as we recently did at the San Francisco Theatre Festival at Yerba Buena Gardens and Yoshi's, San Francisco when we opened for Amiri Baraka and Roscoe Mitchell. We've had the show, but let us now discuss the show business. My mentor, the Honorable John Douimbia, founder of the Black Men's Conference, 1980, said, "Marvin, you don't know how to act! You can write plays and do theatre, but you don't know how to act!" John (may he rest in peace) was talking about being able to act on the stage of life. Show business transcends the stage, the acting, dancing, music, but is about the business of production and promotion. If the artist wants to be a part of the show business, he/she must take off the artist hat to don the persona of the businessman/woman. This is the real task before us at this moment as we prepare to enter prime time. We need a staff of business minded people, managers, booking agents, promoters, publicists, bookkeepers, etc. We can do this from the inside or hire outsiders, but the show business is actually more important than the show itself. And one would be wise to look after their own interests. Ray Charles is one of the best examples of a man who handled his show and his show business. In short, we need people who are about the business of show business, from stage to box office. Eldridge Cleaver. Marvin organized Cleaver's Christian ministry, 1977. Center of Hope was the first Black Church Cleaver addressed. In truth, I have been lazy. Eldridge Cleaver called me the Lazy Prophet! Elijah Muhammad said laziness was our greatest problem. He suggested we say a special prayer seven times a day, rather than the prescribed five times. I became disgusted with the laziness of actors during my tenure with Recovery Theatre, even though my play One Day in the Life became the longest running African American drama in Northern California. The actors became a burden and I wanted to kill them at times. My adviser told me, "Marvin, if you kill them who will act for you?" But I fled the theatre to the solitude of writing. Today, I feel caught up with my writing, especially making up those lost 12 years I spent as a Crack head. Finishing eight titles last years suggests maybe I can take a break from writing and return to the theatre. But in contrast to writing that is a solitary adventure, theatre is communal, even the one man show needs light man, sound man, make up, costume designer, promoter, house crew, stage crew, etc. Tell me what you are prepared to do with this vehicle we have, including our abundance of talent. We can go forward into Prime Time or continue to tread water in a pitiful state. The choice is ours. Let me know at your earliest. As-Salaam-Alaikum, Marvin X, Prime Minister of Poetry P.S. Again, we have been invited to Center of Hope Church this Sunday, March 27, 11am, and I hope we can come there as a group representing Bay Area Black Authors, Academy of da Corner and First Poet's Church. Let me know if you will be able to make it. I will be reading a poem. It is my hope that you all will be there to act on the stage of life! lol m