By Jasmin Conner
The Joyce Gordon Gallery, 406 14th Street, Oakland, will host a reading by the Journal of Pan African Studies women poets on Saturday, March 19, 3-6pm. Academy of da Corner Reader’s Theatre will read with authors Jerri Lange, Aries Jordan, Tureada Mikell, Jasmin Conner and Phavia Kujichagulia. Singer Mechelle LaChaux will also perform.
Ayodele Nzinga, poet, playwright, actress, producer and director of West Oakland’s Lower Bottom Playaz is the featured presenter. In her own words she says she is, “a renaissance woman with something to say in every medium she can.” She uses poetry, drama, directing and producing. In spite of raising seven children as a single mother, she acquired a Masters of Arts and a Masters of Fine Arts and is currently a PhD candidate. She will be performing Opal Palmer Adisa’s play Bathroom Graffiti Queen which she has adapted into a one woman show.
The play is about women’s exploration of sexuality and femininity. Ayodele describes her character, Queen, as “Complex, wounded and perhaps broken. Yet she has a driving force to fix the world, and finds a way to go on. She has a purpose in life. She’s following her own cause.”
This speaks to every woman. We are taught from infancy that we have the responsibility to uphold and keep everyone around us on course. We are expected to disregard our personal struggles and issues in favor of the greater need, as if our personal needs are without merit. We are expected to take care of our families and community, and once that job is done, we can then take care of self. And that job is never done.
Bathroom Graffiti Queen is thus a womanhood rite of passage.
As a womanhood rite of passage, Ayodele expressed great enthusiasm for Opal Palmer Adisa’s play, “Society becomes unraveled because of the treatment of women. We reach a level of tolerance. We get used to the statistics that every six minutes a woman is beaten. Entertainment offers a disguise. People come to a play to be entertained but the audience will be different when they leave the theatre. The play directs attention to the condition of women globally, but in particular to my sistahs here in North America.”