My most recent venture is a performance “pod” called Covid Black initiated during the summer of the pandemic. The pod is a response to calls for innovations in inclusivity in forms and structures of artistry. The murder of George Floyd/Breonna Taylor and the subsequent activism surrounding their deaths, reaffirmed my belief in the potency of, and necessity for black stories to be told. I reached out to a group of artists who believe in collaborative devised work to see if we could “breathe” together. The result has been ongoing meetings where we develop new stories and explore creative forms while we breathe and share time. Each of us took COVID-19 screening tests in order to be together because we believe it is necessary to create a collective presence during this time of isolation and grief.

 

Artists working with the Covid Black pod – Alexandria Davis, Shaka Brown, Antonio Disla, Diana Lawrence, and Robin Wilson are developing new musical theatre work, creating new interdisciplinary dance work, and writing solo monologues for performance. When we are able, we plan to travel for a residency to perform and teach . It is so important to share histories and experiences from a diversity of Black cultures at this point in time. Only through breath and storytelling can we provoke change. This work is supported by the non-for-profit organization Art Boundaries Unlimited.

Anita Gonzalez, Professor of Theatre and Drama directs, devises and writes theatrical works. Her stagings of historical and cross-cultural experiences have appeared on PBS national television and at Lincoln Center Out-of Doors, The Working Theatre, Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, New York Live Arts, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, and other national and international venues. Her musical writings include Zora on My Mind (under development), Ybor City (Cuban unionists, readings, rhumba, and smoke converge in 1918 Tampa, Florida), Ayanna Kelly (a Black Caribbean woman time travels through British pubs until she finds self-discovery) and Home of My Ancestors with composer Nkeiru Okoye for HGOCo. Gonzalez also founded the Anishinaaabe Theatre Exchange in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to engage Ojibwe communities in dialogue through theatrical performance.