Ladies Ring Shout Review by Kulvinder Arora
Kulvinder Arora, Visiting Assistant Professor at Beloit College, is trained in English and American Literature and researches American and Diasporic cultures.
This review was originally posted on Facebook.
The Ladies Ring Shout premieres Aug 4th at Defribrillator and runs through August 6. The performers are Abra Johnson, Meida McNeal and Felicia Holman, all strong women who artistically and intellectually define performance art at its best. The personal is truly political in this piece as these remarkable women put body and soul into reclaiming a space for women of color in modern dance and performance. This innovative performance piece not only foregrounds the ways in which black women have been portrayed in popular culture with images of ridiculous stereotypes and blatant denigration but offers counterpoints of light to these images with poignant personal stories of resistance.
The piece begins with an analysis of the commodification of black women’s bodies in film and popular culture. By critiquing popular films for their representations of black women, this first act satirically and wryly creates a sense that something is missing in popular representation. The performers ask “Who, then, is the black woman?” Far from offering a definitive answer that may serve as another stereotype, the women go on to detail their personal engagement with issues that black women often confront. The following acts detail their intellectual frustrations with feminism for not understanding women of color issues. Yet, they also offer an understanding of non-acceptance in people of color communities for being feminists of color. This conundrum is familiar in academic circles and women of color scholars have written about it extensively. Far from dry prose, these incredible women deal with the material with humor and everyday realities.
As the show goes on, the women deal with individual crises and efforts to resist through struggle with their identities and circumstances. In a very poignant piece, Mc Neal details the loss of her mother after she suffered a stroke. The momentary glimpses into McNeal’s ability to deal with the loss offer a very real glimpse into how people recover from difficult situation not by repressing memory but allowing it to be the basis of strength. This show is not to be missed by anyone interested in how race, gender and sexuality structure our existence and how resistance to oppression takes very personal and political efforts.
Pre-sale tickets available online! Click the link below: