Piece By Peace, at Caf? Bolivar
I grew up in the experimental, neo-modern, dance, and performance art scene of the 70’s, and 80’s. It was a whorl of warehouse studios, NEA grants, 99 seat houses, shoestring budgets, and unending inspiration led by such creative, genius type, disciplinarians as Jerzy Grotowski, Peter Brook, Joe Chaikin, Meredith Monk, Ping Chong, and Pina Bausch.
The magic of the era was in the total experience; the process of getting there, the synergy of ideas and craft, the culmination of the performers, the audience, and the technicians all merging together in an alchemical, artistic stew that existed only in the moment in which it happened. This kind of performance unfailingly, leaves me feeling deliciously fed, and creatively juiced.
I often miss that sense of ensemble and community in the LA poetry scene. The juice is often sought, after the reading at some local pub.
But artistically, we are most often working in solitude, reciting to each other from a distance, rather than entering into a communal artistic process. It’s a different time. The application of the artistic voice is telling. However the Piece By Peace, at the Café Bolivar on March 19th left nothing wanting for this old theatre hound!
Under the poetic mentorship (at the garden) and very able production of Beth Multer (E. Amato) and Eboni Bragg, (both amazing poets in their own right), the opening remarks indicated that this was “a stage for confessions," and indeed it was. Some of the hottest, most uniquely positive veteran voices on the LA poetry scene came together with some fresh new mentees to spit truth and consequences…and they had a mission.
The event was planned to send the Peace4Kids Youth Poetry Team to San Francisco, and it was well worth the ten dollar donation. A slammin’, jammin’ good time was had by all, fused together by DJ Niani in the back of the room, and by the work and vision of the Peace Garden, in back of the whole idea .
For information on the program, under the Executive Directorship of Zaid Gayle, go to: www.peace4kids.org. George McDonald (host of Shine and 1/2 the MacDeuce duo) set the tone from the top, saying, “You will witness my rebirth, my greatest show yet.” He led the line-up of seasoned talent, who came out to show their support: Gaknew (Hollywood Slam Team), Simply Kat (Mic and Dim Lights Crew), Beatboxer Joshua Silverstein (Declare Yourself Tour), who offered up a rare, and surprising spoken word, and returned at the end of the evening for a wordless finale with DJ Jedi (Def Poetry Tour).
And the jewels of the evening for me were the young poets on the crown of the Peace Garden Team, spitting the kind of lyric that has the power to restore, and maybe even save one’s soul: Quiana, bipolar, in a backdraft; Melissa, the way it hit her when she came home to find her, “sixteen year old little sister, twistin’ her hips;" and Glenn Davis, guarded, and courageous. Plus, the evenings perfect acoustical, musical dessert, served up by Kevin Sandbloom and Melody Bell, which conjured memories of the styling of James Taylor, the partnership of Tuck and Patti, and the harmonies of Sweet Honey and the Rock.
What a night! Hope you were there. If not…check out their next event. I’m soooo glad I went.