One sunny afternoon, I emailed my beautiful, creative friend, Angelique Burke, to tell her that I'd had the cherished opportunity to perform in an independent film, the event taking place from December '08 to January '09, before I took to the friendly skies to stand with 2 million others and welcome Barack Obama, our nation's first African-American President, into The White House.
To my delight, Angelique called, said she'd been thinking about me, wondered what I was doing, and presented me with the opportunity to join her in bringing to the stage Eve Ensler's theatrical reading of "Anyone of Us: Voices from Prison."
The experience has been awe-inspiring from its initial meeting, in which Angelique opened her home to four members of the cast and debriefed us on the undertaking, sharing her creative vision. She opened the floor for each of us to reveal why we were there. We shared a bit about ourselves and partook, all the while, in a hearty and delicious spread that kept my taste buds delirious with joy.
In Angelique's red-splashed home, I met beautiful, powerful women. Days later, I met others, who, in the above cast photo, have been my pleasure to have encountered. On the top row, they are (L-R) Lydia Cornellus, Director Angelique Burke, Jeanette Zakkee, Katina N. Grays, and Deepali Gokhale. I am Claudia Moss, the kneeling sistah on the end of the second row. The row continues with (L-R) Sonali Sadequee, Noel Richey, Ameena Ali and Nadirah Sabir. The lovely Hadayai Majeed, photographer extraordinaire and co-founder of Baitul Salaam Network, Inc., the host organization, snapped the photo.
Our premier performance was held in the Clayton County Library System's Headquarters Library located at 865 Battle Creek Road, in Jonesboro, GA.
"Anyone of Us: Voices from Prison" is a collaboration of Eve Ensler (actor/activist) and women incarcerated in various US prisons. The event, which will be performed again on Thursday, April 23, 2009, at 6:30 p.m., at the Relapse Theatre in Atlanta, GA, is a part of the annual International VDAY Celebration. Women cross racial, social, sexual orientation, economic, educational, and religious divides to hold hands in a circle of sisterhood to bond, uplift, raise awareness and funds to continue life-changing missions.
For truly, in the bat of an eye, in the turn of events, in a sleight of hand, it could have been anyone of us learning to have hope and faith living life behind prison bars.
What follows is a pictorial feast of our dance through rehearsals to the actual performance reading! Come...join us for our final performance at the Relapse Theatre on April 23...let your voice be heard in the brief discussion on the topic of "Women in Prison" and be blessed...as we ALL always are!
Claudia and Katina cut up at her home during rehearsals.
Sonali ponders her next thought.
Katina and Lydia discuss their roles.
Katina heats up the rehearsal.
Claudia drapes Lydia and the director with love.
Angelique prepares to direct.
Sonali makes her point!
Claudia, we are not on stage!
Lydia looks into the future.
Director Burke brings her back...
Director Burke opens the floor for discussion.
Jeanette, Angelique and Deepali focus.
Sonali beams with satisfaction under the lights.
Noel delivered an awesome performance.
Lydia feels the power of live art!
Katina beams with joy after a stunning monologue!
Katina and Lydia smile for the camera.
On stage at the Headquarters Library
Director Burke feels the words from another soul.
Deepali is elated at the production's culmination.
And she has reason to be pleased, I'd say!
Deepali remembers through a woman's testimony.
Muchas gracias, mi Diosa, por mi vida magnifica!
My knee-baby sister, Glenda, "Miz Know It All," says, "Dance without the glasses next time, Sadie Mae." Don't you love your sisters, assigned and unassigned!
The photographs on this blog were graciously contributed by Hadayai Majeed, Ameena Ali, Nadirah Sabir, Anthony Daniels and Claudia Moss.