Harlem Stage Presents BLOOD DAZZLER, Opens 9/23
In commemoration of the fifth anniversary of hurricane Katrina and in awareness of a world in which natural and man-made disasters have become regular occurrences and a necessary part of the human dialogue, we are proud to present the world premiere of BLOOD DAZZLER.
A tale of the storm we should have seen coming and the sociopolitical firestorm left in its wake. Based on Patricia Smith's award-winning book, Blood Dazzler embodies Katrina as a troubled, otherworldly woman hungry for fame, destruction and revelation.
Katrina defied simple classification and easy analysis. Now, as her aftermath continues to be felt, a group of artists reexamines her origin and impact through a unique convergence of verse, dance, theatre, and multimedia, in the hopes of unearthing deeper truth.
Hurricane Katrina is not simply an event of the past. The impact of the storm and the devastation of the aftermath are still being felt and now compounded with the oil spill devastating the Gulf Coast. Blood Dazzler is an attempt to reexamine what happened and ignite a dialogue about what can be done now. Culminating in a "Katrina's Coming to Your Town" touring model, the event will also be a meeting ground to meditate on the vulnerabilities in every community and envision strategies for change to protect ourselves from the devastation of future disasters, both natural and man-made.
Thurs- Sat, Sept 23-25, 7:30pm
Sun, Sept 26, 3:00pm
For the past three years, award-winning poet Patricia Smith and choreographer Paloma McGregor have been developing Blood Dazzler into an evening-length theatrical work. The collaboration began at a women's writers conference in Kentucky, when McGregor heard Smith read the poem 34. She was struck by the power of the poem, which, in Smith's words, "began with dim flailing images, the sound of frantic prayer and the eerie whisper of rising water. Thirty-four nursing home residents were left to die as hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans, and an insistent necessary poem took shape. 34 pushed other silenced voices to the surface and led to Blood Dazzler, a manuscript birthed by the storm. In 2008, Patricia McGregor adapted the manuscript into a theatrical script, focusing on carving out the human elements of both the victims and the storm herself. In 2009, the project moved forward with the help of Voice & Vision's prestigious ENVISION residency at Bard College. We returned to NYC for a standing-room-only work-in-progress showing at Classic Stage Company.
About the Artists
Paloma McGregor is a choreographer and co-founder of Angela's Pulse, which creates collaborative performance work. Her work has been presented throughout New York, including at The Kitchen, Harlem Stage, EXIT Art, the Brecht Forum, Tribeca Performing Arts Center and Bronx Academy of Art and Dance, as well as at UCLA, Yale University, The Dance Place in Washington, DC, Cleveland Public Theatre and the McKenna Museum in New Orleans. Paloma has performed at City Center, The Joyce Theater, the Kennedy Center, BAM, and the United Nations. She toured internationally for five years as a member of Urban Bush Woman, and is currently dancing in Liz Lerman Dance Exchange's new project, The Matter of Origins, and with Burnt Sugar/Danz. A former newspaper reporter and editor, she has taught workshops on developing connections between dance and text and community-building through the arts at community centers, schools and universities across the country. Paloma earned her BS in Journalism (Florida A&M University) and her MFA in Dance (Case Western Reverse University).
Patricia McGregor recently graduated from the directing program at the Yale School of Drama where she was Artistic Director of the Yale Cabaret. She has worked at venues including Broadway, BAM, Second Stage, The Kennedy Center, The Public Theater, The Kitchen, the O'Neill National Playwriting Conference, Lincoln Center Institute, and Exit Art. Directing credits include Jelly's Last Jam, Romeo and Juliet, Four Electric Ghosts, The French Play, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Eleemosynary, Sidewalk Opera, Dancing in the Dark, The Covering Skyline is Nothing, In the Meantime, In the Cypher, Imaginary Audience, The Twenty-Four Hour Plays, Guernica-The Musical!, 365 Days 365 Plays, Clarisse and Larmon, Totems, Three Sisters, Cloud Tectonics, and My Children My Africa. She was Associate Director on Roger Guenveur Smith's Juan and John, Assistant Director on Tarell McCraney's Brother Sister Plays at The Public and Winter's Tale at NYTF Shakespeare in the Park. Patricia was both a McDougal Scholar and Presidential Scholar and received the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. Upcoming collaborations include directing a James Brown piece with Burnt Sugar at The Apollo, Invisible Dog, Building a Better Fish Trap with her sister and collaborator Paloma McGregor. She is co-founder of Angela's Pulse, a company which creates vital dance and theater works and fosters collaboration among artists, educators, organizers, academics and other diverse communities in order to illuminate under told stories, infuse meaning into the audience experience and animate progress through the arts.
2008 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST! Patricia Smith's fifth book of poetry, Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press) chronicles the human, physical and emotional toll exacted by Hurricane Katrina, a catastrophic natural event with lasting spiritual and political impact. She is also the author of Teahouse of the Almighty (Coffee House Press), a National Poetry Series winner, the Best Poetry Book of 2006 on About.com, and a 2007 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and Paterson Poetry Prize winner; Close to Death (Zoland Books), Big Towns, Big Talk (Zoland) and Life According to Motown (Tia Chucha). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, poemmemoirstory, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, the Chautauqua Literary Journal, TriQuarterly, and other journals, and in many groundbreaking anthologies--most recently Gathering Ground, The Spoken Word Revolution, The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry and Short Fuse: The Global Anthology of New Fusion Poetry. Her poem "The Way Pilots Walk" received a Pushcart Prize, and is featured in Pushcart Prize XXXII: Best of the Small Presses.
A selection of Patricia's poetry was produced as a one-woman play by Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott and performed at both Boston University Playwrights Theater and the historic Trinidad Theater Workshop. Another play, based on Life According to Motown, was staged by Company One Theater in Hartford, Ct., and reviewed favorably in The New York Times. In October of 2006, during the Gwendolyn Brooks Creative Writing Conference at Chicago State University, Patricia was inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent.
Blood Dazzler received commissioning support from the Harlem Stage Fund for New Work, which receives support from the Jerome Foundation. Photo by Bruce DeSilva.