Black/Queer/Diaspora/Womyn Festival Features Staged Readings, Panels

Trey Anthony
Sharon Bridgforth

Sharon Bridgforth and Trey Anthony, two women artists of color, will be in residence on Saturday, March 1 for the Black/queer/diaspora/womyn (BQDW) Festival, an all-day program of staged readings from Bridgforth’s “con flama,” Anthony’s “da Kink in my Hair” and panel discussions featuring both artists and Five College faculty.

BQDW explores themes of race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality and nationality in Bridgforth and Anthony’s work. Through the theatrical jazz aesthetic, Bridgforth explores riding the bus in Los Angeles as a youth and her family’s history of migration from the American South to the West Coast in “con flama.” Set in a Caribbean beauty salon in Toronto, Anthony’s “da Kink in my Hair”explores the relationships black women have with their hair and their personal stories.

The festival is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Curtain Theater.

From 10:30 to 11:15, an excerpt of Bridgforth’s “con flama,”directed by Djola Branner of Hampshire College, will be presented.

A panel will discuss “Queering Blackness in the Diaspora” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The panelists are

Kevin Quashie of Smith College, Rachel Mordecai of UMass, Bridgforth and Anthony.

An excerpt of “da Kink in my Hair,” directed by Judyie Al-Bilali, assistant professor of theater, will be performed from 2-2:45 p.m.

Anthony and Bridgforth will speak on “The Survival of the Black Queer Woman Artist” from 3-4 p.m.

The festival is free and open to the public and lunch will be provided. There is limited seating so RSVP at bqdwfestival@gmail.com with your name and number of tickets you want to reserve.

As a touring artist since 1993, Bridgforth creates her work through the theatrical jazz aesthetic, a style that blends autobiography, movement and music in performance. She has released her performance text “con flama” and her workbook, “Silk Mantras: Activating The Divine Design For Your Life” as eBooks. Anthony is an award-winning playwright, executive producer, actor, creator and stand‐up comedian based in Toronto. Her stage play “da Kink in my Hair,”which became a lauded Canadian television series, has been touring since 2001.

Bridgforth and Anthony’s participation in BQDW is part of an artist residency, in which third-year dramaturg Adewunmi Oke has collaborated with Five College faculty from Amherst and Hampshire colleges to coordinate class visits and talks. In addition, student performers of color from the Five Colleges are participating in both staged readings for the culmination of the residency. Thise festival is a component of Oke’s MFA thesis project, which investigates how Bridgforth and Anthony address issues of identity in their creative work.

This festival is made possible in part by the Five College Multicultural Theater Committee, the Lois E. Toko Fund, the UMass Arts Council and the Hotel UMass.