02 December 2009

Voices of Freedom - 18th-23rd January

Voices of Freedom @ Rich Mix
18th-23rd January 2010
35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA

To mark Martin Luther King Day on Monday 18th January and the first anniversary of Barack Obama's inauguration on Tuesday 20th January, East London cultural arts centre Rich Mix is to present a week of special events encompassing theatre, film, spoken word and live music, which will celebrate and question the notions of freedom at the start of the year of the next General Election.

The programme includes award-winning saxophonist Denys Baptiste's 'Let Freedom Ring!'. The show promises a world class line-up of jazz musicians, brand new visuals from VJ collective Yeast reflecting on Obama's first year, and extracts from the epic poem 'Mental Fight', whose author, Ben Okri, will be "In Conversation", looking at his career and inspirations, including readings from his latest work 'Tales of Freedom'.

Film and theatre promise to examine the lives of controversial and influential Black Nationalist leaders on both sides of the Atlantic, with a screening of Spike Lee's 'Malcolm X' and a performance of Eclipse Theatre's one-man show, 'Michael X'.

Spoken word performances will complete the week, with Elizabeth Mansfield sharing stories of refugees and exiles from all over the word in 'The Uninvited' and an All-Star Poetry Olympics Superjam celebrating freedom, with a line-up of poets and writers led by "jazz poetry pioneer" Michael Horovitz.

Full details and press release below.

Mon 18 Jan / 7pm / Screen 3 / £5
1993/USA/201mins/cert 15
Dir: Spike Lee
Starring: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Albert Hall

"Lee's acclaimed biopic of the controversial and influential black activist Malcolm X takes us from his inauspicious beginnings and imprisonment, through to his conversion to the Nation of Islam and his later rejection of their divisive teachings. Born Malcolm Little, he became a gangster, and while in jail discovered the Nation of Islam writings of Elijah Muhammad. He preaches the teachings when let out of jail, but later on goes on a pilgrimage to the city of Mecca, there he converts to the original Islamic religion and becomes a Sunni Muslim. He changes his name to El-Hajj Malik Al-Shabazz and stops his anti-white teachings, as he realises the error of his mistakes. He is later on assassinated, and dies a Muslim Martyr."

In Conversation with Ben Okri
Tue 19 January / 7.30pm / Screen 2 / £5

"As a preview to the performance of Let Freedom Ring! which features his poetry, Ben Okri will join us In Conversation to talk about his life, inspirations and work to date. Okri has published 10 novels, including The Famished Road, as well as collections of poetry, short stories and essays. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has been awarded the OBE as well as numerous international prizes, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa, the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction and the Chianti Rufino-Antico Fattore. His latest book, Tales of Freedom was published in April 2009."

Wed 20 Jan / 7.30pm / Venue 1 / £5

"The Uninvited is a performance tour de force telling the extraordinary stories of refugees and exiles, from all over the world, past and present. Poems, writings and testimonies flow into songs – Spanish, Filipino, Farsi, Bosnian – sung both in original language and in English translation. Premiered in the USA, in the wake of 9/11, The Uninvited celebrates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights through the words and music, the humour and courage, of those forced to flee their homes, and make a new life in foreign lands. Performed by Elizabeth Mansfield, Olivier Award nominee for 'Best Actress in a Musical'."

Fri 22 Jan / 7.30pm / Bar / £12/ £10 concs

"Michael Horovitz presents a galaxy of scintillating superbards: Francesca Beard, Charlie Dark, Salena Godden, Daljit Nagra, Molly Parkin, Tim Wells, with Pete Lemer's Piano, Annie Whitehead's trombone, vocals and spoken-word settings, the William Blake Klezmatrix Band, plus special guests. Michael Horovitz is best known for his appearance at the International Poetry Incarnation at the Royal Albert Hall on June 11 1965, alongside Allen Ginsberg and Alexander Trocchi. And then came the Poetry Olympics which have taken Horovitz all over the world, his aim being 'to join hands, hearts and heads, to communicate and exchange at the grass roots.' Less appreciative voices of the establishment claim that Horovitz's selections and modes of presentation are 'subversive'. Horovitz hopes that this charge is justified: 'Subversion usually means change', he says, 'and poetry should change people'."

Eclipse Theatre presents MICHAEL X
By Vanessa Walters
Fri 22 Jan / 7.30pm / Venue 1 / £12 / £10 concs
Directed by Dawn Walton. Design by Simon Kenny. Cast: Clint Dyer

"Who was Michael X? Black Power Activist and Political Icon? Liar Pimp, Murderer? A Trini 'bwoy' rolls off a boat into 1950s London. Ten years later he's the most famous black man in Britain, but who was Michael X? The 'authentic voice of black bitterness' [Observer 1965] or the ex Rachman henchman for whom politics was just another hustle? Set at a political rally, Vanessa Walters' new play probes at the heart of politics in 1960s Britain. Michael X tells the tale of one man's experience set against the backdrop of social change. This compelling monologue will be performed by stage and screen star Clint Dyer. Eclipse theatre is a national touring company whose recent work includes The Hounding of David Oluwale (Best Director nomination: TMA awards 2009) and Angel House by Roy Williams."

Music: Denys Baptiste - LET FREEDOM RING!
Sat 23 Jan / 8pm / Bar / £15 / £12

"Stirring contemporary jazz with gospel, blues and Afro-Cuban music from Mercury/MOBO award winning saxophonist Denys Baptiste, inspired by the spirit and rhythms of Dr Martin Luther King's momentous 'I Have A Dream' speech on its 40th anniversary, and featuring an explosive 11-piece international line-up including Abram Wilson, Andrew McCormack and Gary Crosby (Jazz Jamaica). Jazz has always been closely connected with the struggle for freedom and justice, and the suite's four parts – 'I Have A Dream', 'With This Faith', 'Let Freedom Ring!', and 'Free At Last' – pay tribute to those who have fought to overcome oppression, expressing ideals which are as relevant today as they were 40-odd, and even 200 years ago. Collaborating with Booker Prize winning author Ben Okri, Baptiste has synchronised extracts of Okri's epic poem Mental Fight into this exhilarating mix of music."

Video art: YEAST

"VJs of acclaimed film-makers, Yeast join the band to present a creative live mix of footage of the musicians' performance on stage, the text of Ben Okri's poem, and powerful images of the struggle for freedom, equality and justice by oppressed peoples throughout the international community. An incredibly moving experience, the music and visuals act as powerful reminders of why the quest for freedom and civil rights must continue."

No comments: