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Livestreamed on this page on Tuesday 27 October 2020 at 2 p.m. HST (UTC -9) / 5 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 7 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 8 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

United States
Tuesday 27 October 2020

On Radical Imagination and The Black Feminine Divine

With Star Finch, Ellen Sebastian Chang, and Lisa Marie Rollins, presented by Crowded Fire and Campo Santo.

Produced With
Tuesday 27 October 2020

Crowded Fire and Campo Santo presented the conversation On Radical Imagination & The Black Feminine Divine livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Tuesday 27 October 2020 at 2 p.m. HST (UTC -9) / 5 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 7 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 8 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence Star Finch, director and playwright Ellen Sebastian Chang, and writer, director, and new work developer Lisa Marie Rollins explore the necessity of radical imagination to shape a new world. Co-streamed from Twitch hosted by Crowded Fire and in partnership with Campo Santo.

Our conversation will center the importance of our BIPOC imagination and Black futuristic storytelling at this particular moment. We will consider the future world that is already being imagined and who is building it as well as explore AfroFuturistic/SciFi art/movies/TV that have impacted us positively or negatively. Woven into all will be a discussion of Star’s new revolutionary play, Shipping & Handling, developed from Crowded Fire’s Resilience and Development Lab.

From playwright, Star Finch: “Shipping & Handling is a project that explores how our humanity will be measured within the soon to be robotic-reality on the horizon; and it intentionally roots that interrogation in the Black Feminine gaze. The play is structured as an evening out at the theater told in reverse order: moving from an afterparty with actors, to the playwright’s experimental talkback, to the performance of the official ‘play’ itself. In telling the story out of sequence I seek to scramble the built-in expectations of performative trauma around Black plays and undermine the dominant white gaze of theater itself. The first half of Shipping & Handling names the various poisons polluting Black creative expression and actively transmutes them; the second half illustrates the potential of a world without the weight of said labor.

This piece relates to my other work in its manipulation and deconstruction of power structures, in historical or futuristic settings, to hold space for moments of liberation. Where it diverts from prior work is in its ultimate act of imagining a future completely unencumbered by white supremacy altogether--nonexistence as a means of resistance. As we now prepare to step into a new decade, this play offers an alternate vision of what the technological future might hold if we stretch our imaginations to activate the infinite Black Feminine Divine within our collective subconscious, via the ritual of theater itself.”

About Star Finch
Playwright Star Finch is a local San Franciscan trying her best to hold ground amidst the erasure of gentrification. She’s a member of Campo Santo Theater Company and a resident playwright at Playwrights Foundation. Her plays include H.O.M.E. [Hookers on Mars Eventually] and BONDAGE (Princess Grace Award semifinalist, Relentless Award honorable mention). She was also the lead writer on the collaborative performance piece Babylon is Burning, a loose adaptation of Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop Won’t Stop; and on Death Become Life: Banish Darkness, a collaboration with AXIS Dance, Ensemble Mik Nawooj, and Crowded Fire Theater. Finch has also contributed to various collaborative projects including TheaterFirst’s PARTICIPANTS and Campo Santo’s ETHOS DE MASQUERADE. She’s held residencies in Crowded Fire’s R&D LAB and AlterTheater's Alter Lab. She is a recipient of the San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist Commission in Theater.

About Crowded Fire Theater Company
Crowded Fire Theater Company was founded in 1997 by a group of young artists interested in experimental contemporary theater. Known for developing and presenting innovative and provocative new plays, Crowded Fire contributes to the creation of a contemporary canon that reflects the diverse world in which we live. Winner of 2018 ‘Best of the Bay,’ the company has been described in American Theatre Magazine as “instrumental in introducing the Bay Area to new writers who push the boundaries of what theatre can be” and “one of the most reliable local stops for high-quality new work by diverse voices.”
In addition to two-three mainstage shows each season, CFT offers a robust new play development program. The Matchbox @ Crowded Fire actively supports the creation of high quality contemporary theater through commissions, in-house workshops, and an annual free public reading series. The company is composed of an ensemble of Resident Artists made up of top Bay Area actors, designers, and dramaturgs. This ensemble, with its multiplicity of interests and ideas, as well as the dedication and talent of its members, represents one of the company’s most significant strengths. The company also supports our Mentorship Program, providing customized year-long mentoring for up to three artists, technicians, or arts administrators each year.

About Campo Santo
Founded in 1996, Campo Santo is an award-winning group committed to developing new Performance and to nurturing People of Color centered new Audiences. We cultivate artists to work in intimate, interactive community based settings to create new theatrical experiences that reflect our society. We came to the theatre world because we saw how it could reflect the world we live in. We saw theatre open our own worlds through writers of color who were re-creating the world with their words, ones that helped address society’s most pressing issues. After almost 25 years and 80 premieres, we are grateful to be still creating in our city. Campo Santo has been able to work with many legends, heroes, poets and priestesses - which include artists: from Junot Diaz to Chinaka Hodge, Marcus Shelby to Ana Teresa Fernandez, and hundreds of artists who span the spectrum of art and activism, mediums and modalities. Beyond these incredible figures we seek out the exciting emerging creative forces who have the possibility of changing the way we see. While we are fortunate to have had playwrights-in-residence from Denis Johnson to Ntozake Shange; Jessica Hagedorn to Jimmy Santiago Baca; Roger Guenveur Smith to Richard Montoya - we've always been fiercely committed to developing the "next"- future leaders of performance. We've birthed the first plays by many writers - “unknown” at the time, and have seen them take their place as established visionaries in the field. Our cities are being lost, seemingly taken from us and rather than rant and shout - we're attempting to reclaim and reground. Like the roots of our name, Campo Santo, we are a mix of cemetery, sacred ground and santos...

Star Finch is the Playwright-in-Residence at Campo Santo and Crowded Fire Theatre in San Francisco, CA through the National Playwright Residency Program, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Find out more about Star's residency experience, and learn about the impact of the program at large.​

About HowlRound TV
HowlRound TV is a global, commons-based peer produced, open access livestreaming and video archive project stewarded by the nonprofit HowlRound. HowlRound TV is a free and shared resource for live conversations and performances relevant to the world's performing arts and cultural fields. Its mission is to break geographic isolation, promote resource sharing, and to develop our knowledge commons collectively. Participate in a community of peer organizations revolutionizing the flow of information, knowledge, and access in our field by becoming a producer and co-producing with us. Learn more by going to our participate page. For any other queries, email [email protected], or call Vijay Mathew at +1 917.686.3185 Signal/WhatsApp. View the video archive of past events.

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