Posts Tagged J.D. Steele

OF EQUALITY World Premiere Nov 19-21

Katha Dance Theatre Announces World Premiere of New Cross-Cultural Collaboration with J.D. Steele

At left, photo of several women dancing in classical Indian gowns. At right, a photo of J.D. Steele.

At left, KDT performers onstage. At right, J.D. Steele. Photo credits L to R: Ashwin Chopra, John Wagner.

Crystal, MN – Katha Dance Theatre (KDT) has announced the world premiere of Shaamya – Of Equality, their latest collaboration with composer J.D. Steele. The event will take place at the Park Square Theatre in St. Paul, MN on November 19 – 21, 2021. It is choreographed by Rita Mustaphi, KDT’s Artistic Director, and features original poetic contributions from artist and playwright Ifrah Mansour.

Inspired by the poetry of writer and activist Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976), Of Equality attempts to draw parallels between the experiences of today’s communities of color and those expressed by Nazrul Islam back in the early 20th century. Using a mixture of dance, music, and spoken word poetry, it juxtaposes past and present fights for racial, cultural and gender equity.

Through his writing and activism, Nazrul Islam shared his anger about and attempted to find solutions to various forms of oppression. By enacting his ideas decades after his death, Of Equality demonstrates that this great writer’s work is relevant to today’s artistic and political climates, transcending time and place.

Picture of Rita Mustaphi. She is wearing a green and gold gown and has her hands extended to the sides.

Rita Mustaphi. Photo courtesy of the artist.

With her choreography, Rita Mustaphi aims to seamlessly blend the various cultural and thematic ideas at play into a cohesive dance piece incorporating traditional Kathak idioms. Of Equality is just one in a long line of original works choreographed by Rita over the course of KDT’s three-decade history. Her work’s quality speaks for itself, having won her three McKnight Fellowships for choreography, a 2011 Lifetime Achievement award from the India Association of Minnesota, a 2012 Education award from the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, and a 2021 Nari Shakti Award for Women’s Empowerment from the Urvashi Dance, Music, Art and Culture Society in New Delhi.

Equality will be set to a live rendition of original compositions by Twin Cities musical legend J.D. Steele, with whom KDT previously collaborated back in 2013 on the critically acclaimed Karna – The Abandoned Hero. Steele, an accomplished musician who has performed with Prince, Mavis Staples, and others, will be accompanied by pianist Billy Steele, drum artist Abhinav Sharma, and vocalist Tonia Hughes. Steele’s compositions include elements of North Indian, East African and African American musical styles. They were also inspired by taals, which are rhythm cycles used in North Indian classical music and dance. His intent as composer is for all of these elements to unify in support of the dancers’ performance.

Ifrah Mansour

Ifrah Mansour. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Equality will also include written contributions by Somali poet and playwright Ifrah Mansour, who will perform original works (including the poem “I am a Refugee”) onstage alongside Mustaphi and Steele. Mansour is perhaps best known for her autobiographical play How to Have Fun in a Civil War, which details her memories of her childhood in war-torn Somalia.

Contributions from dancers of multiethnic backgrounds will fill out the show, including ballet, flamenco, tap, and hip-hop. Incorporating cross-cultural artistic and narrative elements within a classical Indian dance performance is in keeping with Rita Mustaphi’s mission to expand upon the Kathak tradition while preserving its authenticity and cultural integrity.

The premiere comes following a 2020 work-in-progress showing at Minneapolis’s Southern Theater. For more information about this production and other KDT programming, please visit https://kathadance.org.

Shaamya – Of Equality. November 19 – 21, $16-35, 80 minutes, Park Square Theatre, Historic Hamm Building, 20 W. Seventh Place, St. Paul, 55102.

Tickets are available now at https://parksquaretheatre.org/box-office/shows/2021-2022/shaamya-of-equality/

Read about the Park Square’s health and safety policies before you attend.

About Katha Dance Theatre

Katha Dance Theatre (KDT) creates, performs and educates through the art forms of dance, music, poetry and storytelling. Rooted in Kathak, the classical dance style of Northern India, KDT is dedicated to making dance accessible, inclusive and relevant. It enhances the local community by bridging diverse cultures and audiences to contribute to life’s infinite artistic expressions. Learn more at https://kathadance.org

About Kathak Dance

Kathak (pronounced “Kah-tahk”) is an Indian classical dance tradition native to North India. Its origins can be traced back to as early as 400 BCE, when it began as a form of sharing stories, myths, and Hindu scripture in temples and royal courts. Characterized by both rhythmic and lyrical elements, it features graceful hand gestures, pirouettes, and complex footwork, performed with expressiveness and precision. Over the centuries, it has grown to incorporate diverse influences and viewpoints with KDT at the forefront of its artistic evolution.

About Kazi Nazrul Islam

Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976) was a Bengali writer, musician and activist whose advocacy for India’s economic and social independence from Britain made him widely known as “the rebel poet.” He was also prolific, having written thousands of poems and songs during his lifetime. Once named the national poet of Bangladesh, he is remembered for his staunch opposition against social and cultural oppression in all forms.

National Endowment for the Arts graphic logo - black & white with shooting star graphic and textThis project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov. It is also supported by a grant from St. Paul’s Cultural STAR program.

2020-2021 SEASON ANNOUNCEMENT

Park Square Announces 46th Season

Fresh and Forward Looking Series Features Artistic Collaborations and Three World Premieres

MEDIA CONTACT
Connie Shaver, shaver@parksquaretheatre.org

Saint Paul, Minn., Feb 28, 2020 – Park Square Theatre announced the Harris Family 2020-2021 Theatre Season today, the company’s 46th.  The coming season is supported by a major gift from the John W. Harris family. The series kicks off in fall with a rebellious comedy rescheduled from the summer, and continues with artistic collaborations, three world premieres, one musical and two mysteries.

The season opens on the Proscenium Stage with guillotines and a cry for liberty with the regional premiere of THE REVOLUTIONISTS by Lauren Gunderson (Oct 2 – Oct 25, 2020). Produced with PRIME Productions, the show will be directed by PRIME co-founder Shelli Place in her Park Square debut. Four spirited women lose their heads in this irreverent comedy set during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. Playwright Olympe de Gouges, assassin Charlotte Corday, former queen (and fan of ribbons) Marie Antoinette, and Haitian rebel Marianne Angelle hang out, murder Marat, and try to beat back extremist insanity in 1793 Paris. This grand and dream-tweaked comedy is about violence and legacy, art and activism, feminism and terrorism, compatriots and chosen sisters, and how we actually go about changing the world.

Two white women sit in directors chairs. They are drinking whiskey and have two whiskey barrels at their feet.

Carolyn Pool (L) and Shanan Custer (R) in Bad Things, Good Whiskey. Photo by Richard Fleischman, hair and make-up by Jancyn Bindman.

Woman-centered writing continues on the Boss Stage with the world premiere of BAD THINGS, GOOD WHISKEY by Shanan Custer and Carolyn Pool (Oct 23 – Nov 22, 2020). Directed by Elena Giannetti and featuring music by Rhiannon Fiskradatz, this “comedy on the rocks” is the final installment in their beverage-inspired trilogy from the creators of 2 Sugars, Room for Cream and Sometimes There’s Wine. The comedic duo weave together “scenes from life and stuff we think is funny” – only this time the drink is a spirit as strong as the women who drink it!

November brings a special season add-on presentation of Katha Dance Theatre’s world premiere of SHAAMYA – OF EQUALITY (Nov 5-8, 2020) with choreography by Rita Mustaphi. Inspired by the poem “Of Equality” by Bengali revolutionary poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, this multicultural dance piece infuses poetry, gospel and R&B music with original Kathak choreography. This new work, with music composed and performed by J.D. Steele and poetry by Somali poet and playwright Ifrah Mansour, makes parallels between the experiences of today’s communities of color and those of Nazrul Islam’s era.

Winter brings the regional premiere of AIRNESS (Jan 29 – Feb 28, 2021) by Chelsea Marcantel. Five oddball rock fanatics go to dingy bars and cramped stages all across the nation to express their inner shred genius as they vie for a place at the National Air Guitar Championship. Following them on their quest to achieve ‘airness’ on the long road to qualification, this righteous and smile-inducing comedy shows how community is forged in unexpected places. “This show was the unexpected and universal hit for the group of Twin Cities theatre goers who accompanied us to the 2017 Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, KY,” says Park Square executive director Michael-jon Pease.

Park Square and the Ordway, who first collaborated in 2009 on an acclaimed production of the off-beat Broadway musical Grey Gardens, present TRIANGLE (Apr 2 – May 9, 2021), with music by Curtis Moore, lyrics by Thomas Mizer, book by Curtis Moore, Thomas Mizer and Joshua Scher. Directed by Rod Kaats, this area premiere musical is original and compelling,  full of mystery and romance, with songs by two of America’s hottest new musical theatre writers. Two parallel love stories separated by a hundred years are woven together by the thread of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City.

Summer in Saint Paul kicks off with two very different mysteries by local writers. First Park Square presents the Full Circle Theatre world premiere production of FIRE IN THE NEW WORLD written and directed by R.A. Shiomi (May 28 – Jun 20, 2021). In the third installment of Shiomi’s popular noir-style detective stories, Sam Shikaze, hard boiled private eye, fights crime in Vancouver’s Japantown and beyond in the years after WWII.  This time the beautiful Japanese American wife of an ambitious real estate developer goes missing, and Sam is on the case. The show is smart and fun with a dash of social commentary and plenty of sly intrigue.

The final mystery of the season is at press time, still just that – a mystery. What is known is that the writer and director will be award-winning playwright Jeffrey Hatcher (Holmes and Watson, Sherlock Holmes and The Ice Palace Murders, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club) and that the dates will be Jul 9 – Aug 15, 2021. “One of the projects we’re working on should get confirmed in the next few weeks,” says Pease. “It will be a treat to have Jeffrey direct one of his own edge-of-your-seat scripts. After all, Park Square has produced three of his mysteries over the years and Jeffrey even wound up making his Park Square stage debut for one weekend in Sherlock Holmes and The Ice Palace Murders, so it’s about time to get him on as a director as well to round out his Park Square resume.”

In addition to the full season of public performances, Park Square will continue to serve the region’s largest teen theatre audience with daytime matinees for students in 7th-12th grade of THE REVOLUTIONISTS and SHAAMYA – OF EQUALITY as well as from its repertory of literary classics ROMEO & JULIET, adapted and directed by David Mann, and THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, directed by Ellen Fenster.

Beyond Park Square’s theatre season, its two stages will continue to be a home for productions by companies from across the Twin Cities, such as Flying Foot Forum, Trademark Theatre, Zorongo Flamenco, Theatre 55, and the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society. “The Boss and Proscenium stages are amazing assets,” says Pease. “Sharing them with our area’s amazingly varied artists helps make Saint Paul a vibrant destination for all ages and tastes. I’m particularly excited by a brand new partnership with Metropolitan State University’s Playwriting Program that showcases staged readings and workshops of new plays by their diverse student writers on the Boss Stage. Each season and each partnership reveals new ways to center our community’s multiplicity of voices.”

SEASON TICKETS are on sale now. Current subscribers have priority in ordering through March. Seating of new subscriptions will begin in April. Season packages range in size from all six plays and three add-ons in the season to a choose-your-own series of three or more. Subscription package prices begin at $66.

Purchase Tickets Here

The Ticket Office is open from noon to 5:00 pm Tuesday through Friday. Call 651.291.7005.

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PARK SQUARE THEATRE. 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul. Ticket Office: 651.291.7005. www.parksquaretheatre.org

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