An Afro-Asian Creative Reflection on Solidarity, Culture, COVID-19 and Uprising
Ashawnti Sakina Ford | Patti Kmeya | Atlese Robinson | | Sunny Thao
The Kaleidoscope Project is a three-part creative writing and intercultural discourse experience developed and facilitated by creative writer/interdisciplinary artist Rebecca Nichloson. Writers who identify as African American and writers who identify as Asian American were selected to reflect on how solidarity between these two communities can be fully realized through narrative, deep intercultural exchange, and an in-depth understanding of the historical trauma both communities have experienced in the Twin Cities and across the country, as well as the present racism and disenfranchisement exacerbated by the pandemic.
The project consisted of two Generative Virtual Workshops where the writers were asked to participate in a private virtual workshop led by Rebecca Nichloson. The workshop was originally conceived to allow participants to discuss their experiences with creating during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly as it relates to story. A week before the first workshop, the world witness the George Floyd murder, and the conversation changed. What results is a group of writers who are speaking powerfully into this momentous time.
On Tuesday, August 4 and Tuesday, August 11, writers will share their works that came out of this intimate workshop experience.
Participants in the August 11 reading will be:
Atlese Robinson is a writer, performer, director, producer, the founding artistic director of Ambiance Theatre Company, and a 2020 Naked Stages Fellow. Hailing from Saint Paul, MN by way of Chicago, IL, Atlese grew up glued to the stories of her elders. As a result, Atlese’s writing style places an emphasis on the natural flow of speech as a means to preserve the integrity of oral history. Atlese is excited to bring this intimate approach to storytelling to The Kaleidoscope Project.
Sunny Thao is a budding playwright and current artistic and administrative apprentice at the Playwrights’ Center. She graduated with a BA in playwriting, directing, and dramaturgy from Augsburg University in 2019. Her work consists of the unspoken and untold stories within her communities, highly inspired by the Hmong experience. She hopes her work bridges the gaps of generations and within herself. She aims to create a space for storytellers – from the actors on the stage to audience members. Her previous work consists of stage-managing Ambiance Theatre’s production The Garden. Along with acting and writing in Lake Street Story Circles with Marlina Gonzalez + Pangea Theater.
Ashawnti Sakina Ford is an actress, teaching artist, playwright, director, and co-founder of two theatre companies; The Black Ensemble Players (co-artistic director) and Theatre 45°(producing director). Her work centers on youth empowerment, social justice and arts accessibility.
Patti Kameya (she/her) is a historian escaped from the Los Angeles suburbs. She now forages wild plants and treats historical amnesia in Saint Paul. She received a Minnesota State Arts Board Cultural Community Partnership grant to start her creative nonfiction project, The Kimono Shop Off Nicollet. Her story “Community and Kickboxing in Saint Paul” appears in Saint Paul Almanac: Resistance and Resilience Vol. 12.
Rebecca Nichloson. Pronouns: She/Her/Hers. Creative writer, singer/songwriter, playwright and theatre maker. She is the author of numerous works, including Mara, Queen of the World (an acapella musical), The Wild, Bold Enlightenment of Velvet the Mistress, Cooking With Keisha (or Anatomy of Pie), and Jill, Jack & the Martian Lady; a play she created for a children’s educational workshop at the Minnesota Opera. Her fiction and performance pieces include Children of the First Hummingbird, Intelligence, and Zar-Baby, among others. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting (Multiplatform Writing) from Columbia University and an M.A. in English Literature. She was also the recipient of a 2019-2020 Commission from the Cedar Cultural Center and received a 2020 honorable mention from the McKnight Foundation (Spoken Word). In addition, she is the recipient of the Liberace Award, the Howard Stein Fellowship, The Matthew’s Fellowship, an America-in-Play Fellowship and a Many Voices Fellowship from the Minneapolis Playwrights Center (2008-2009). www.RebeccaNichloson.com.