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San Francisco's 3Girls Theatre Returns To Live Performance In 2023

After the opening of 'Tasha, the New Works Festival will follow, showcasing 9 new works by women playwrights.

San Francisco's 3Girls Theatre Returns To Live Performance In 2023

San Francisco's 3Girls Theatre Company returns to a full schedule of live performances for the first time since March of 2020, when their New Works Festival-literally only days away from taking the stage- was shut down by the pandemic.

First out the gate will be the organization's long brewing production of 'Tasha, written by Black playwright, activist and former Oakland Mayoral candidate Cat Brooks. Brooks, who looks to the late Ntozake Shange and her play For Colored Girls ... as an inspiration both in general and especially for 'Tasha, began writing the play in 2015. After the opening of 'Tasha, the New Works Festival will follow, showcasing 9 new works by women playwrights, all of whom have come up through the 3Girls Theatre development process.

Founded by AJ Baker in 2011 to foster development and performance opportunities to Bay Area Women playwrights, Baker officially turned over the reins to the organization to 3GT's Program Directors Pamela Hollings, Cat Brooks and Tina D'Elia in early 2022. It is they who will bring both 'Tasha and the New Works Festival into port in 2023. The festival will honor Baker on its last day with a special "in community" reception for all that she has done to make the organization a continuing reality.

'Tasha
Natasha Mckenna who at the age of 37 died while in custody at a jail in Fairfax Virginia is the basis for 'Tasha. The play is based on years of research and rewrites by playwright Cat Brooks who says, "Natasha started talking so loudly I had to get up and write what she was saying."

This one-woman play explores Natasha's life and murder at the hands of law enforcement using a taser from the point of view of several characters both real (Natasha's mother, Sheriff Stacey Kincaid [Fairfax' Sherriff now and then], and Natasha herself), as well as imagined (the nurse who declared Natasha dead, and an activist fighting against police brutality in Fairfax County.)

Begun in 2015 (the same year Natasha died), Brooks brought the work into several of 3GT's development programs who ended up sending both Brooks and her creative partner, 'Tasha dramaturg and director Dr. Ayodele Nzinga to speak with of those close to Natasha and inquire further about the circumstances surrounding her death. The results of those interviews were incorporated into the final script.

"I deeply believe in spirit and ancestors, says Brooks. I feel like Natasha chose me. And this was a story that for whatever reason, I was the vessel to tell it."

Counting Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Amiri Baraka, but especially Ntozake Shange who also called Oakland home and wrote the seminal and groundbreaking, For Colored Girls among her influences she notes, "The influence of poets who help us see the world and what is worth fighting for is in all my work."

Brooks not only ran for Mayor of Oakland in 2018, but also co-founded the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP) to rapidly respond to state violence in communities of color. She is also the Executive Director of The Justice Teams Network (JTN), a project in partnership with Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors.

Brooks's partner in the creation of the 'Tasha as director and dramaturg is Oakland's first Poet Laureate, Dr. Ayodele Nzinga - also known as WordSlanger. Among her many other accomplishments, Nzinga is recognized by the August Wilson House as the only director in the world to complete the August Wilson Century Cycle in chronological order.



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