Boston, MA (May 20, 2021) – Ifé Franklin’s Indigo Project, in association with Rhythm Visions Production Company, Inc., presents the premiere of an experimental short film, The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae, on Saturday, June 19, 2021 (rain date Sunday, June 20th) as part of a day-long Juneteenth Celebration held at Black Market Nubian Square, 2136 Washington St, Boston, MA:
noon to 4:00 PM: outdoor activities will include a land acknowledgement, a calling of the names of Ancestors, brief history of Juneteenth, prayers, music, poetry, live D.J., a Mini Ancestor Slave Cabin building workshop, an ancestor message board, and book sale and author signing.
6:30PM to 8:45 PM: a film screening followed by a Q&A will be offered in two venues: a limited-attendance indoor screening and a live stream that can be viewed virtually.
The script for The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae was adapted by Letta Neely from Ifé Franklin’s book of the same name. This experimental short film was directed by Ifé Franklin with support from the Emmy-Award winning director Evelyn Moore. The film was shot on location at the Royall House and Slave Quarters in Medford, MA, by The Loop Lab Production Crew. The production team also includes: Musical Director Elizabeth Addision, Musician Kera Washington, Choreography and Movement by Melissa Alexis, Costumes by Sparklle Thames, and Stage Management by Abria Smith. The cast features: Qualina Lewis in the role of Willie Mae, Tammy Denease as Willie Mae’s mother Virginia, Dayenne Walters as Old Aunt Sara, Michael Gordon Penn as Overseer Jack, and Candis Hilton as Young Miss Ann.
The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae (TSNWM) is a work of historical fiction by multidisciplinary artist Ifé Franklin which tells the story of Willie Mae Lenox, a 20-year old Black woman enslaved in Virginia in the mid 1800s, who sets upon her journey to freedom. TSNWM began as a series of blog posts and live readings and was published in book form in 2018, edited by Letta Neely, published by Wild Heart Press, and printed by Red Sun Press (ISBN 0966309715, 9780966309713). TSNWM is now taking the form of a performance piece which invites the audience into Willie Mae’s environment, creating a sense of connection and immediacy between today’s community members and those who lived their lives in American chattel slavery. This project is not merely an artistic enterprise, it is a metaphysical one – it represents the transformation of the book into a living embodiment of the enslaved ancestors and co-creating with the audience a shared future of freedom and liberation.
The public event and experimental short film version of The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae are supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ Creative City Boston program, with funding from the Barr Foundation, and are also made possible by a Live Arts Boston grant from the Boston Foundation.
Ifé Franklin is a Black, Queer, interdisciplinary artist whose work incorporates many modalities, including: photography, adire textiles, written and spoken word, drawing, collage, choreography, sculpture, and installations. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Ifé completed her studies at the The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She has worked as a professional artist and Roxbury, MA-based community activist for over 30 years. Ifé’s artistic process is informed by her spiritual practice, with deep links to African Diasporic folk cultures. Through her participatory art practice – Ifé Franklin’s Indigo Project – she works with communities to build dialogue about our shared history of slavery that is both ubiquitous and pervasively invisible. Her work has been exhibited at UMass Boston, Medicine Wheel Productions, Franklin Park, the North Charleston Arts Fest, The Slave Dwelling Project Conference, The Eliot School of Applied Arts, and the Royal House and Slave Quarters and has been acquired by the Fitchburg Art Museum.
Liza Zayas is a lover of writing and dancing and celebrates both as a singer and songwriter performing as Luna del Flor. You can hear her collaborative sounds and experience life through her storytelling. She invites you to dance. Her poetry seeks to initiate dialogue by intentionally expressing consequences of love, lust, ego and self-respect.
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