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‘Put Ur Play On’ Productions Showcases Local Talent at Laney College

On Saturday, Feb. 26 at the Laney College Odell Johnson Theater, the Third Annual Black Centric Showcase celebrated Black History Month. The show depicted eras of Black history, while featuring talent showcases of monologues, skits, dance, rap and singing expressing the past, present and future.

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Actors in stage production “Unapologetically Black: Here to Facilitate Harm Reduction Services for Those in Need, Inc.” (l-r): Toni Rochelle, David Cesari, Ziare Whitelow, Christina Gluszaczak, Harley Ford, Cody Johnson, Shayna Howlett, Tyler Mae and Anthony Dixon. Photo by Carla Thomas.
Actors in stage production “Unapologetically Black: Here to Facilitate Harm Reduction Services for Those in Need, Inc.” (l-r): Toni Rochelle, David Cesari, Ziare Whitelow, Christina Gluszaczak, Harley Ford, Cody Johnson, Shayna Howlett, Tyler Mae and Anthony Dixon. Photo by Carla Thomas.

By Carla Thomas

On Saturday, Feb. 26 at the Laney College Odell Johnson Theater, the Third Annual Black Centric Showcase celebrated Black History Month. The show depicted eras of Black history, while featuring talent showcases of monologues, skits, dance, rap and singing expressing the past, present and future.

“The showcase was designed to feature talented members of the community performing all eras of Black history: Where we are from, where we have been, and where are we going,” said Saleemah Jones, production company founder-producer of “Put Ur Play On” with assistant director Angel Galloway.

Pamela Terry performed a monologue spun from August Wilson’s “Fences.” Terry responded to a casting call ad for the role. “Through my audition I learned about the production company, Saleemah Jones, and assistant director, Angel Galloway,” said Terry. “These two sisters are brilliant in their work to improve the quality of life in the community.” She said the experience was both inspiring and challenging.

AKIL of Oakland performed his original song “Gave Us 28,” referring to the number of days in February for Black History Month. “I like to produce positive rap,” said AKIL. “They gave us 28 but every day we make history.”

Other performances featured an original skit on love by Lauren Black and Erynne-Dnae of Cotati, California, and a poem by Oakland middle-schooler Talia Rochelle entitled “Go to the Back, Rosa Parks.” “Rosa Parks is an important, strong, brave woman in Black history,” she said.

Paris Jackson Jr. performed an original dance.

Gary Moore of San Francisco performed a monologue from August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Shelly Broadnax performed an original poem entitled “MIBPOC,” about having to check the ‘other’ box when filling out surveys and applications.

IMAC FADICHI of Chicago performed an original rap, “The Good Show,” and Pierre Jones of Richmond performed an original monologue entitled, “Black Caesar.”

The second half of the show included the stage production “Unapologetically Black: Here to Facilitate Harm Reduction Services for Those in Need, Inc.,” written by Itoro Bassey, a Nigerian playwright.

“Itoro reached out to us, and we thought it was a great way to put this perspective on our platform to raise voices,” said Jones, play producer.

The production, satiric in nature, explored the seriousness of Black and white race relations including white privilege and white insensitivity toward African Americans in everyday situations.

In one scene a white male doctor talks to a Black female patient in a dismissive manner. At the height of their disagreement, the two actors are frozen in time. A third actor enters, “Dr. Find You an Ally,” performed by Anthony Dixon, who narrates the situation and offers to serve as a white ally for the Black woman for 24 hours at the price of $59.99.

The actors unfreeze and the Black woman joins the narrator, as he explains his services including a bootcamp provided to retrain white perpetrators and transform their behavior into one of respect, understanding and empathy toward Black people.

Actors in the production included Tyler Mae, David Cesari, Shayna Howlett, Toni Rochelle, Ziare Whitelow, Christina Gluszaczak, Harley Ford and Cody Johnson.

“It’s been great to combine a showcase featuring some of the best in Bay Area talent with a stage play production written by a Nigerian sister,” said Jones. “The month may have 28 days, but we are 365 days a year, 24-7 making history,” said Galloway.

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Arts and Culture

Point Richmond Music Unveils Summer Concert Series Lineup

If the first performer set for Point Richmond’s Summer Music Festival is any indication, the concert series has some fantastic tunes in store for local concertgoers. The one and only Fantastic Negrito will kick off the concert series Friday, June 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.-ish with his unique blend of blues, R&B, soul and roots music.

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Point Richmond Music Festival. Photo by Daud Abdullah.
Point Richmond Music Festival. Photo by Daud Abdullah.

By Kathy Chouteau

The Richmond Standard

If the first performer set for Point Richmond’s Summer Music Festival is any indication, the concert series has some fantastic tunes in store for local concertgoers.

The one and only Fantastic Negrito will kick off the concert series Friday, June 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.-ish with his unique blend of blues, R&B, soul and roots music.

The artist, who was born Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz, had a serious early-career car crash that damaged his guitar playing hand. But he rose above it to reemerge as the rebranded “Fantastic Negrito” in 2014, earning multiple accolades — including multiple Grammys — upon his musical rebirth, according to his bio.

Negrito’s current album is “White Jesus Black Problems,” called by his website “an exhilarating ode to the power of family and the enduring resilience of our shared humanity.”

Point Richmond’s Summer Music Festival has two more concerts lined up as well, starting with the “swampy tonk” sounds of Miracle Mule on Friday, July 26 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Also performing that night will be Lorin Rowan + the Deep Blue Jam, featuring Americana, rock, roots, and reggae tunes from 6:45 to 8 p.m.-ish.

The concert series’ final performances occur Friday, Aug. 23, when Van Goat rocks out from 5:30-6:30 p.m., followed by the Latin, Venezuelan and Caribbean vibes of Bululú from 6:45 to 8 p.m.-ish.

In addition to dancing in the street to the music, Point Richmond’s many restaurants will be open during the concerts, along with face painting for the kids and art by The Arts of Point Richmond.

The concert series is organized by Point Richmond Music. Find the concert venue at the corner of Park Place and Washington Avenue in Point Richmond.

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Art

El Cerrito Calls for Artists to Transform Its Utility Boxes

The City of El Cerrito’s Arts & Culture Commission is seeking individual artists, teams of artists or community groups to apply for its “2024 Utility Box Public Art Program.” The project is a beautification initiative designed to add to the vibrancy of the San Pablo Avenue corridor by having community artists transform unsightly utility boxes into attractive works of art, according to the City.

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An artist stands by their work that transformed the utility box from drab to fab. Photo courtesy of the City of El Cerrito.
An artist stands by their work that transformed the utility box from drab to fab. Photo courtesy of the City of El Cerrito.

By Kathy Chouteau

The Richmond Standard

Do you have an idea for beautifying urban public spaces with your art? If so, this initiative might be perfect for you.

The City of El Cerrito’s Arts & Culture Commission is seeking individual artists, teams of artists or community groups to apply for its “2024 Utility Box Public Art Program.” The project is a beautification initiative designed to add to the vibrancy of the San Pablo Avenue corridor by having community artists transform unsightly utility boxes into attractive works of art, according to the City.

This program’s theme is “Artwork that Celebrates El Cerrito’s Natural Beauty and Environment,” and any artist/team/community group residing in Contra Costa County can apply. The boxes, including one main utility box and a smaller traffic signal box adjacent to each other, are located at Ashbury and Fairmount Avenues, next to Harding Elementary School in El Cerrito.

A $2,500 stipend is offered for each utility box completed and the application is due Friday, June 14, at 4 p.m. Work on the boxes begins Aug. 5, with work to be completed by Sept. 6.

To date, eight utility boxes have been painted by local artists as part of the initiative throughout 2021 to 2023. Artists including Adaleyd DeLeon, Kristen Kong, Shanna Strauss, Martial Yapo, Jesse White and Ricardo Cerezo have been selected by the city to beautify utility boxes with their art since the program’s inception.

Questions? Contact Will Provost at 510-215-4318 or wprovost@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us. Applications can be submitted online https://el-cerrito.org/1522/Utility-Box-Public-Art-Program

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Arts and Culture

Third Annual Town Up Tuesday Lifts Oakland’s Community, Culture and Joy

Urban Peace Movement announced Town Up Tuesday, a free community music and social awareness festival dedicated to the people of Oakland to celebrate Bay Area culture and create safety by fostering connection and belonging. It will be on Tuesday, May 21, at Edoff Memorial Bandstand at Lake Merritt from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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The event will feature local Bay Area legends and rising stars home-grown talent that will include 10 performers: 1100 Himself, The Conscious Daughters, Michael Sneed, Trunk Boiz, 3LISE, The Animaniakz and Ms. Bria. Too $hort is a special guest and there will also be a surprise legendary Oakland artist. The two DJs are Emelle & Dahge, and the two hosts are Dnas and Mystic.
The event will feature local Bay Area legends and rising stars home-grown talent that will include 10 performers: 1100 Himself, The Conscious Daughters, Michael Sneed, Trunk Boiz, 3LISE, The Animaniakz and Ms. Bria. Too $hort is a special guest and there will also be a surprise legendary Oakland artist. The two DJs are Emelle & Dahge, and the two hosts are Dnas and Mystic.

By Kyung Jin Lee

Urban Peace Movement announced Town Up Tuesday, a free community music and social awareness festival dedicated to the people of Oakland to celebrate Bay Area culture and create safety by fostering connection and belonging.

It will be on Tuesday, May 21, at Edoff Memorial Bandstand at Lake Merritt from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The event will feature local Bay Area legends and rising stars home-grown talent that will include 10 performers: 1100 Himself, The Conscious Daughters, Michael Sneed, Trunk Boiz, 3LISE, The Animaniakz and Ms. Bria.

Too $hort is a special guest and there will also be a surprise legendary Oakland artist. The two DJs are Emelle & Dahge, and the two hosts are Dnas and Mystic.

Past performers have included: Kamaiyah, Yukmouth, Stunnaman02, Symba, Lil Kayla, Grand Nationxl, Jane Handcock, and D Smoke, among others.

“Oakland is a historically Black city and one of the most diverse and progressive in the country — a city rich with culture,” said Nicole Lee, executive director of the Urban Peace Movement.

“At a time when we are being scapegoated for political gain and negative narratives of Oakland permeate the press, we’re uplifting who we truly are and all the things that make this region so special.”

About Urban Peace Movement: Urban Peace Movement (UPM) is a racial justice organization working to end mass incarceration and the criminalization of Black and Brown communities in Oakland. https://urbanpeacemovement.org/ @urbanpeace510

Kyung Jin Lee is the media representative for the Urban Peace Movement.

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