Saturday, July 19, 2014
Theatre Review: Love Balm For My Spiritchild
I attended the performance of the play Love Balm for my spirit child at San Francisco's Brava Theatre.
Painful. Disgusting. Traumatic. Mothers giving manhood training to boyz. Surely we know mother has done a grand job, and yet it is a utter failure, even though I am the product of manhood training by my mother. Don't you know she did all she could do, but by the eleventh grade I was so out of control Mama put me in a rooming house to get me out of her house and her business. After all, she had had three additional children by another man since she and my dad separated and divorced. But like Boyz in the Hood, I was all in my mama's business and she put me out of her nest.
I guess Mom was busy and so was I: she had her last child, Tommy, almost the same time I had my first child, Marvin. My son and my young brother, grew up as brothers.
So Brava Theatre, Love Balm for my Spiritchild. Poetic, sometimes abstract, but Ayodele can make the abstract sound good, and yet her life is so much in the moment. She didn't know I was in the theatre, but I saw every minute of the play. She was the major player, the diva, as always. No one can out shine Ayodele on stage. It is not only the power of her voice, her mastering of theatre craft, her being mentored by Marvin X, no, it is Ayo herself, under her own power, yet ever conscious of elders and ancestors.
But this was a group effort, so clearly a demonstration of the tragedy of our times, although Diop said there can be no African tragedy only tragicomedy. And I heard the tragicomedy in this production. But imagine one male dancer represented the male gender of a nation of people. So wonderful to see male dancers, so wonderful to see how the hip hop generation has incorporated their choreography into modern dance, alas, African dance--modern dance will never admit it's African contribution. Ask Katheran Dunham.
The story line was utterly depressing, Mothers weeping over sons shot dead by the police. For me, I have been dealing with white racists killing young black men since Emmitt Till, then Denzill Dowel in Richmond that gave birth to the Black Panther Party. Then Little Bobby Hutton, shot down in cold blood by the OPD, then fifteen year old Melvin Black, which we addressed in a rally at the Oakland Auditorium with Minister Farrakhan, Angela Davis, Eldridge Cleaver, Marvin X, et al., 1979
Alas, the police of killing of black men stopped, then started the drive by killings. I found myself in a group of mothers who had lost their sons in drive by killings. I was overwhelmed and dropped out of the group. Tonight I was again confronted with those mothers, weeping, mourning, dancing, sharing, embracing, loving the lost they shared. Great choreography or call it direction, but great. And I cannot say enough about the male dancer. Let him dance and tell the story of his brothers. Somebody hep me!