Black Pearl Sings! Post-show Discussion


05/04/2019 - 3:00pm - 6:00pm


Black Pearl Sings!

The Theater and Policy Salon looks at the role of story, music, and culture in resilience and response in three area productions: Black Pearl Sings!, Spunk, and Jubilee.

The post-show Salon conversation, in partnership with the Alliance for a New Music-Theatre, will take place on Saturday, May 4, at the Universalist National Memorial Church in the Spooky Action Theater space at 1810 16th Street NW in Washington, DC following the 3pm performance of New Music Theatre’s Black Pearl Sings!

The Theater and Policy Salon is convening arts experts and advocates from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Arena Stage, and Americans for the Arts to discuss how three current DMV theater productions explore the power of story and music. The conversation will also look at who gets to control the narrative, in the past and in the present day. The discussion will focus on depictions of art and music as a tool for survival in Spunk at Signature Theater and Black Pearl Sings! at Alliance for a New Music-Theatre, both of which draw upon explorations of African American music and culture by Zora Neale Hurston and John and Alan Lomax. The conversation would also touch on Arena Stage’s premiere production of Jubilee, which highlights the role of Fisk University’s Fisk Jubilee Singers in overcoming racial barriers and strengthening both the Fisk and broader African American communities. The panel will use these productions to launch conversations on the role of story, music, and culture in strengthening resilience and finding effective responses to challenges facing struggling communities. The session will also provide an opportunity to examine how stories about communities of color are framed in the current day, especially in the context of advocacy and policy debates.

Panelists include:

Naysan Mojgan, Literary Manager, Arena Stage

Naysan Mojgan is a dramaturg and the Literary Manager for Arena Stage, having started in June 2018. Prior to joining Arena, he worked at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, and also worked as a freelance dramaturg, including on GREAT SOCIETY at Arena in Winter 2018. As a theatre scholar, director, and dramaturg, Naysan has worked on new and classic work with theatres in San Diego and Minnesota, including MOXIE, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, and Malashock Dance, and has taught at UC San Diego and George Mason University. Naysan holds a PhD in Theatre & Drama from UC San Diego, specializing in the adaptation of Shakespeare, and a BA from Carleton College.

Diana Baird N’Diaye, Cultural Specialist and Curator, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Diana Baird N’Diaye developed and leads The Will to Adorn: African American Dress and the Aesthetics of Identity, a pan-institutional, multi-sited research project that included a program in the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Her training in anthropology, folklore, and visual studies and her experience as a studio craft artist support over thirty years of fieldwork, exhibitions, programs, and publications focusing on expressive culture in Africa, the Caribbean, and their diasporas in the United States; children’s play and performance; and dress traditions and fashion in Oman, Mali, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Japan. After the Haiti earthquake in 2010, she led the Smithsonian’s support of Haitian traditional artists at the Folklife Festival. She has served on national and international juries, advisory, policy, and funding panels including UNESCO, the NEA, and the American Folklore Society. She is a graduate of the 2010 Smithsonian Leadership Development Program. She holds a PhD in anthropology and visual studies from The Union Institute.

Cristyn Johnson, Local Arts Advancement Program Manager, Americans for the Arts

Cristyn Johnson is the Local Arts Advancement Program Manager at Americans for the Arts. In this capacity, she develops Americans for the Arts’ comprehensive full-career-spectrum field education offerings to advance competent and informed local, regional and national arts professionals. She also develops a suite of programs and resources centered around the full leadership pipeline and organizational needs of a diverse workforce. She manages, grows, and cultivates an Emerging Leaders Network, a Mid-Career Leaders Network, and an Executive Leaders Network by building a connected network of arts professionals in the field of practices, who can share their knowledge with the field at large. Prior to coming to Americans for the Arts, Cristyn was the Program Manager for Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA). During her time with MCA, her main focus was on building and expanding partnerships and programming, with specific concentration on capacity building programs to the field, as well as the Emerging Arts Advocates program. Cristyn grew up in the Baltimore area. She earned her Master of Science Degree in Arts Administration from Drexel University and completed her Bachelor of Music Degree with a concentration in clarinet performance at Towson University. In her free time, you can find Cristyn performing with a few local orchestras.

Universalist National Memorial Church in the Spooky Action Theater
1810 16th St NW
Washington DC, DC 20009

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