Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Marvin X's star student Dr. Ayodle Nzinga makes her mark

Tales of Iron & Water: The American Century Cycle & The Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc

The Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc are a theater troupe in Oakland Ca. They are a resident troupe at The Flight Deck in Oakland CA. They are currently in their 14th season of theater production in the San Francsco East Bay. In 2010 the troupe undertook the production of the entire American Century Cycle by August Wilson. The American Century Cycle is a sweeping view of the 20th Century though the lens of North American Africans. Wilson, America's Shakespeare, brings America’s history to life with rich language, master story telling, and the offering of characters culled fully formed from life, bursting at the seams with wisdom, yearning, and the dream of inclusion in America.
The Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc purposefully use performance as a way of increasing social awareness, provide an entry point to community concerns, as well as to stimulate, celebrate and enhance understanding of ourselves, and others through the shared experience of live theater. The Lower Bottom Playaz, use the performing arts to create a more conscious and compassionate public sphere, as well as to inspire, nurture, challenge, educate and empower artists and audiences. It is our intention to foster the enlightenment of more conscious and compassionate communities, and to inspire in all of us the willingness to explore new ideas, generate dialogues concerning issues that inhibit the thriving of communities. The Lower Bottom Playaz, offer theater that encourages self reflection and fosters the inclusion of inner city communities in the larger conversations that concern the global village in which we all live. Our intentions are to entertain, inform, and educate, thereby enriching the cultural life of inner city spaces in California and adding to the state’s rich and diverse arts community.
Wilson’s work holds huge resonance for both urban audiences, reflected in Wilson's work, and the most discriminating theatergoers with a taste for fine theater. His epic work offers an artistic entry point into several issues ever present in the American public sphere, in particular the destiny of people of color not fully melted in the smelting pot of democracy, as well as the topics of racial migrations, urban renewal, gentrification, displacement, incarceration, religion, and social equity.
Over half way to competing their ambitious goal, The Lower Bottom Playaz are currently staging Two Trains Running, the seventh play in the 100 year cycle. While troupes across the globe stage Wilson’s work, no troupe has ever offered the entire American Century Cycle in chronological order of the decades presented in the Cycle.
Two Trains Running is set in PittsburghPA in 1969 in the once vibrant Hill District that is now a shadow or its former self. As the play opens, the residents of the Hill District are trying to find the ground to move forward in the wake of the deaths of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and the pervasive sweep of urban renewal. It is the eve of the Black Power Movement in America, and the City’s use of eminent domain revives past injustices and offers a panoramic view behind the veil at a world often invisible in the American public sphere. Through Wilson’s absolute mastery of dialog and story, the lives of ordinary people are elevated as they regale us with the hopes, frustrations, and dreams of a people in transit in search of freedom, justice, and equality.
The Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc prides itself for paying its performers. Our practice helps to employ actors of color and helps to provide diversity in theater offerings in the San Francisco Bay Area. We employ artist, create original work, present important work, and train youth in theater arts. We concentrate on the presentation and creation of work that connects us to the universal in the human condition, and enables dialogues that engage perceptions of difference, and issues of concern for all inner city spaces. Our dedication to the American Century Cycle encompasses our goals of being of service to underserved audiences, articulating invisible narratives, providing opportunity to performers of color, and the creation of bold theater that aims to transform.
I am raising funds to support the production of Two Trains Running by August Wilson at the Flight Deck. Funds donated to this campaign will pay actors and technical crew in this production. A gift of $100.00 will pay an actor for a night’s performance. A gift of $600.00 will pay two actors for the run of this production. If we are successful in raising the minimum of $2,500.00 the effort will pay all the actors in Two Trains Running. If we raise our entire goal, it will also pay our technical crew for their work. I urge you to support this production and the Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc., Oakland’s oldest producing North American African theater troupe.
Creating community one story at a time,
The Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc.

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