Entertainment » Theatre

Theater Offensive Brings New LGBTQ Festival to Roxbury

Tuesday Oct 3, 2017

The Theater Offensive and Roxbury's Hibernian Hall present the first-ever OUT'hood FEST from October 25-31, 2017 at Hibernian Hall in Dudley Square.

The OUT'hood FEST is Boston's newest festival that amplifies the voices and works of local LGBTQ artists of color. All of the works presented at the festival are new original works by artists from Boston. This seven-day event is the culmination of The Theater Offensive's brand-new OUT'hood Residency Program, which supports the creation of artwork by, for, and/or about LGBTQ people. OUT'hood FEST and the OUT'hood Residency Program are funded in part by the Barr Foundation and the Klarman Family Foundations.

"It's incredibly exciting!" notes Executive Artistic Director Abe Rybeck. "For years, we've talked about creating a residency program that supports the work of up-and-coming local LGBTQ artists, as there's very few paid opportunities for artists, especially artists of color, in Boston. We're incredibly honored to be able to have this opportunity to present fresh, local, diverse, queer new works."

Resident artists presenting at the OUT'hood FEST include Black Venus, Eddie Maisonet, Laury Gutierrez, Elizabeth James, and Billy Dean Thomas. For many of the artists presenting at the OUT'hood FEST, this will be their first time being a resident artist and presenting their work to a larger audience, including Dorchester's own Black Venus.

"It's an incredible opportunity," Venus described. "This is the kind of opportunity that I've always envisioned myself doing and now I've been given this space and financial support and more. I can't believe this has been presented to me this early in my artistic career. I know that I can make my vision come true now. It's a dream."

The performances, which range from hip-hop, to spoken word, to Latin-Baroque fusion musical performance, to media works and plays based on stories from community members, will take place at Roxbury's Hibernian Hall from October 25-31, 2017. Talk backs will take place after each show, discussing the themes and issues address in the works. All are welcome. Tickets are $10 in advance and "pay what makes you happy" at the door.

For tickets and more information, please visit www.ttoboston.org.

The Schedule

October 25 & 26, 7 p.m.: "Speculum" by Black Venus

To be black and queer is to be rendered invisible. Throughout our existence, black queer and trans people have carved out our own spaces to overcome dominant social perspectives that invalidate our lives and experiences. "SPECULUM" investigates black queer identity through the context of color and visual theory. What is color? What is identity? Through sharing our stories, we challenge limited and "common sense" notions of identity in order to invoke black queer visibility. This project aims to open eyes and minds to the unbounded complexity of lived experiences.

Black Venus graduated from Boston College, and grew up surrounded by artists and educators. Her studies were in fields of Communication, Theater, and African and African Diaspora Studies. The art of Black Venus centers their life experience as a native Bostonian who is queer, black, and female-bodied. Through poetry, song, drama, and movement, Black uses creative performance to bring their story alive. They find purpose and fulfillment when using various art forms as tools for education, healing, and liberation. Aside from creating and performing, Black is an active community organizer. They collaborate with fellow artists on programming that aims to dismantle oppression and promote healing through creative practices.

October 27, 7 p.m.: "Divine Sisters" created by Laury Gutierrez

"Divine Sisters" is inspired by the path breaking lives of two seventeenth-century women whose stories resonate in our world today. Catalina de Erauso was raised in a Spanish convent, then went on to wear men's clothes and live the life of a soldier. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a Mexican nun and poet, became the first feminist voice of Latin America. Along with works incorporating the writings of these two exemplary figures, we present music composed by other women throughout the centuries, including Hildegard von Bingen, Diana Arismendi, Diana V. Sáez, and Señora Anonymous.

On the day she was born, Laury Gutierrez and her mother were serenaded by her father along with a group of local musicians, beginning her lifelong love affair with music. In their home the family often held music soirées, criollo style, where musicians spend the evening playing folk music by ear. Laury soaked up the amazing improvisations of both singers and instrumentalists. She took up the cuatro (Venezuela's small guitar) and also began guitar lessons. After graduating from high school, she heard the viola da gamba for the first time and fell in love with it. Laury received the Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho, Venezuela's most prestigious scholarship award for study abroad, among other top awards and recognitions, and graduated with honors from the College of St. Scholastica, Minnesota. She specializes in music by women composers and in early music from Ibero-America, is the founding director of La Donna Musicale, and is also the founding director of RUMBARROCO, whose mission is to unite diverse communities by highlighting the fusion and confluence of the cultures of Europe, Africa, and the Americas through musical performances and educational outreach.

October 28 & 29, 7p.m.: "Uncommon Ties" by Liz James

After her divorce, Valerie newly learns about love, marriage, family, and herself. Born out of playwright Liz James' experiences as a young black lesbian in the late 80s, "Uncommon Ties" takes us into the heart of downtown Boston, where a resilient young woman grapples with her identities as a mother and a daughter -- and her attraction to women. As family ties threaten to unravel, they will all have to confront the prejudice and denial that has shaped their lives.

Liz James discovered her love of theater in elementary school when she was cast as the lead for the musical Annie in the fifth grade. In the same year, she also launched her career as a playwright with her first play, Maya's Party. Ms. James enjoys being involved in all aspects of theater and has a genuine love for working with children. As a high school student, she began to study theater while also remaining active as an actor and writer. She earned a degree in Theater Arts, with a minor in Creative Writing, from Roxbury Community College and went on to earn her BA in Theater and Early Childhood Education from UMass Boston. Ms. James first wrote "Uncommon Ties" as a writing exercise in 1999 for a creative writing class, and further developed it in 2004 in an advanced playwriting class with Janet Kenny. "Uncommon Ties," inspired by actual events, has been a labor of love for Ms. James and she is proud to present it in the 2017 OUThood Theater Festival.

October 30, 7 p.m.: "The Boston QTPOC Mixtape Project" by Eddie Maisonet

Storyteller Eddie Maisonet presents a collaborative storytelling project focusing on gentrification in Boston's neighborhoods. Born out of storytelling workshops in Jamaica Plain and the South End, the Boston QTPOC Mixtape Project uses the innovative and co-created mixtape model found in people-of-color cultures to amplify the voices of those queer and trans people of color who grew up calling Boston home, and to honor the oral history of storytelling.

A born and bred Boston writer and scholar, Eddie Maisonet is a 24 year old Afro Puerto Rican queer nonbinary boi who wants to manifest healing for his communities through storytelling. He sees personal narrative as one of the best ways to build a more joyful, righteous, playful resilience in the face of marginalization. As a teaching artist, he specializes in workshops centered on facilitating queer trans people of color using storytelling to witness their own truths as well as those of others. His work seeks to connect through isolation with, ideally, some laughs and sighs whether it is through his writing itself or his role in community. Eddie's residency with The Theater Offensive is his first major creative opportunity to manifest something great: the "QTPOC Mixtape Project," a community storytelling project.

October 31, 7 p.m.: "Rocky Barboa" by Billy Dean Thomas

Hip-hop artist Billy Dean Thomas performs live from her 10-track conceptual album "Rocky Barboa," which tells the story of a boxing match from the moments before entering the ring to the end of the final match. Highlighting the parallels between hip-hop and boxing, Billy Dean's performance moves between hip-hop, punk rock, and grime; her polyrhythmic flows drive home truths about #blacklivesmatter, underlying her fighting stance as a queer brown artist claiming space in the male-dominated hip-hop arena.

Billy Dean Thomas also known as "The Queer B.I.G " is a musician who challenges the hip hop game with lyrics that align with #blacklivesmatter, intersectional feminism and highlights the difficulties of growing up in NYC. Graduated from Smith College in 2014, with a degree in Cultural Psychology, her musical career began at the age of eight playing congas and being a part of an advanced Poetry/Performance program where she was mentored by Pharaohe Monch, Rosie Perez and DMC. She is a true lover of translations and remixes historical sounds and texts to fit today's perspectives. Her new project for the ORP Residency Program will be "Rocky Barboa," a video musical body of work with 10 tracks that capture the moments before entering a boxing ring to a final match highlighting the similarities between Hip Hop and boxing.

OUT'hood FEST runs October 25-31 2017 at Hibernian Hall 184 Dudley St., Roxbury, MA. All shows at 7 p.m. Advance Tickets: $10 available at www.ttoboston.org
or Pay What Makes You Happy at the door

For performance & interview clips, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/user/thetheateroffensive/videos


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