Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hi! I'm Blake

Hi! That's me.

Hi! I'm Blake and I have had the awesome experience of working as a production intern at DiverseWorks since September '09. Currently, I am working as Coordinator for the upcoming performing arts show, Come As You Are: HOUSTON!

Come As You Are was a show originally created and produced by The Theater Offensive in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Inspired by the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, Come As You Are aims to investigate and celebrate queer sex, the diverse range of queer sexuality and the moral values underneath. The movement is not just about gay rights, but about inspiring queer people to express themselves and come together as a diverse community. Come As You Are is now a national project that gives grants to theaters so that they may create their own local, original production about queer sex.

Sixto and I talked about goals for Come As You Are: HOUSTON! He knew that he wanted to showcase short original works about queer sex and identity by Houston artists. He also wanted the show to be representative of our diverse queer community, particularly for it to be multi-gendered and multi-generational. With these goals in mind, Curators Chuck Jackson, Grayson Jacobs, and myself began searching for artists. Chuck, an English professor at University of Houston downtown, wrote an awesome open call to artists and we did our best to get the word out. We were so thrilled to find that we had an overwhelming response from Houston artists!

Check out the Come As You Are: HOUSTON! artists:

Chicago's Daaimah Mubashshir and Brooklyn's Michael Harren, both highly involved in Houston's queer community in the '90s, return now as established artists for Come As You Are: HOUSTON! Mubashshir utilizes traditional Muslim movement to identify queer sex as a holy experience; Harren couples Brahms on keyboard with a stories of how sex changes as he matures. Together, Daniel-Kayne and Michael Clay also take on highly-contrasting themes, placing the subject of queer sex with war and the country music medium.

The young Gendermyn utilize acrobatics and comedy to delve deep into the rarely spoken of sex lives within the genderqueer community, while Joe Watts of the pre-AIDS generation wrote a heart-felt traditional monologue about the unique experience of one transsexual woman.

The works of Julia Wallace and Jonatan Lopez are highly interactive, allowing the audience to actively participate as part of their performances.

Nancy Douthey as well as DumpTruck explore brief moments that highlight the quirkiness and fun within queer sex.

It has been so cool to be a part of this project from the very beginning and have the chance to work so closely with the DiverseWorks staff. As a transgendered person who has not lived in Houston very long, DiverseWorks has been a fantastic place to work! After working with the artists and Curators in this show, as well as Houston community organizations like the Transgender Foundation of America and HATCH youth, I feel more and more like I am finding my place in Houston and becoming part of an amazing community. I hope that everyone that comes to this show leaves with that same feeling!

Join us for a provocative exploration of queer sex through performance art! Each performance will be followed by a Q & A with the artists and a reception.

Date: Fri. & Sat., Sept. 17 & 18, 2010
Location: DiverseWorks
Time: 7:30pm

Also, check back on our blog later to see posts from some of the artists in the show!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What the National Performance Network has meant to me

The National Performance Network celebrates 25 years this year. DiverseWorks is proud to be one of the 69 National Performance Network partners across the U.S. who are dedicated to connecting today's artists with contemporary artists of all ages and cultures.

Sixto Wagan, Co-Director and Performance Arts Curator of DiverseWorks, has a long history with NPN and tells you what it means to him...

Him. I nominate him. We always talk of bringing younger people to the table, and he’s an artist, of color, and you’re queer, too, right?

Olga Garay, then director of cultural programs at Miami-Dade Community College, stated those words during that Southern Caucus Regional breakout at the Seattle Annual Meeting in 1997, nominating me to what would soon become the NPN Board of Directors. At first I didn’t realize how much these words would change my life. I was supposed to be teaching high school English and doing this performance art thing as a cool side gig, right?

Prior to that Annual Meeting, the National Performance Network was just this cool group that helped to pay for my first gig as a performing artist in the School’s OUT: The Naming Project residency with Mary Ellen Strom and Barbara Bickart at DiverseWorks in Houston, Texas. So I had already experienced NPN’s ability to affect lives through art, and all of that personal transformative stuff.

Click HERE to keep reading...