046: What are the benefits of a residency? Dasan Ahanu speaks on Black Poetry Theatre’s decade of connection.

“So much is possible.” Dasan Ahanu is a Poet, Emcee, Writer, Playwright, Performance Artist, Lecturer, and Educator in Durham, North Carolina. He is managing director and co-founder of Black Poetry Theatre (BPT), an African American theatre company started in 2008 that creates original productions featuring artists from the community. Dasan performs two of his original poems in this episode, THE ARTIST and TODAY! He describes his creative process, building the capacity to make art in our community, Black Poetry Theatre’s upcoming residency at the Hayti Heritage Center, and the past/present/future of the company’s original theatre.

Black Poetry Theatre seeks to expand the understanding of spoken word and foster great appreciation for the power of contemporary poetry by presenting it in traditional theatrical settings, raising cultural awareness through the use of the performing arts and telling necessary stories from within our communities. Black Poetry Theatre was founded in 2018 by Church Da Poet and Dasan Ahanu.”

UPCOMING PRODUCTION:

St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation/Hayti Heritage Center presents Confessions of a Lounge Singer by Black Poetry Theatre

Confessions of a Lounge Singer is an exploration of the joy and pain of artistry. At the height of the ‘60s popular lounge singer Earl “Treetops” Johnson is struggling to hold onto his dreams, find love, and meet expectations set by those around him. This is a story full of vivid characters, musical performances, and brilliantly delivered spoken word.

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018 at the Hayti Heritage Center $15 in advance for tickets | $20 day of show

Tickets can be purchased online at www.blackpoetrytheatre.com or in cash at the Hayti Heritage Center box office

This episode is brought to you by the Soapboxers, the official patrons of the Artist Soapbox. If you like these episodes and want more, get on the Soapbox! This episode was recorded at the ASBX home studio. Artist Soapbox theme music by Bart Matthews.

Time break-down:

[0:00] Episode intro, BPT info and Dasan’s bio.

[3:04] Dasan Ahanu reads THE ARTIST

THE WRITING PROCESS

[6:14] Dasan’s creative process from inspiration to poem. The transition between the written word and the word performed. Hearing other people speak his work.

BLACK POETRY THEATRE

[11:54] BPT is celebrating 10 years! What’s the history of Black Poetry Theatre? Why did Church and Dasan found the company and how has it changed over time?

[16:15] The catalog of works

THE RESIDENCY

[19:22] BPT will be in residency at the Hayti Heritage Center and the Arts Center in Carrboro. How did this residency come about and how will it work? What are the benefits of this residency for the company? Tell us about the four productions planned for this year (two new and two familiar)!

[26:24] Cultivating and incubating new writers in an active workshop as BPT develops a new work. Including three readings and a staging of the new piece.

NEW WORK

[27:28] At the readings, community members have the opportunity to give feedback and the artists to receive it. “We don’t have enough opportunity to test works.” What questions will Dasan have for the audience? What is he looking to hear from the community?

[30:31] “We’re calling it a remix.” The new piece will be centered around traditional pieces that will be remixed and remade. “The whole idea is to take pieces that don’t connect. And make them connect.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE COMPANY

[33:30] Bridging the gap between ‘traditional theatre’ and ‘Black Poetry theatre’. Dasan’s experience as a resident artist.

[39:15] Are there ways that Dasan would like the BPT’s pieces to evolve and change stylistically?

[42:10] What are the signature elements of Black Poetry Theatre’s work? “Our job when we touch the stage is to touch and move people.” “At some point in time there’s gonna be some celebration.” Plus, a little bit of Southern sass.

[45:58] Building safe space and the capacity to make art. ‘We want this, when are we gonna get it?’ The gathering of artists.

DASAN’S START

[51:21] What came first for him — writing, performing? How did he start with his art? When did he ‘get the bug’? Art is a puzzle. The importance of creating a space for yourself.

[1:00] Dasan introduces and then reads an original poem titled TODAY about self-determination. I love this one! “Today I thought of me…”

[1:03] Thanks and sign-off

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