Saturday, July 31, 2010

Getting Ready for NYC for BlogHer '10

So, I decided at the last minute that I was going to spend the night in NYC for the BlogHer conference this weekend. I'm presenting on Saturday for a 3pm panel session and had originally intended on showing up and then rolling out (of course after the session on how to perk up your blog). But, the BlogHer is a really big deal-- bigger than I had realized, and I want to stick around to meet folks, learn some new things and, of course, get some swag. It's going to be modified, of course, because my 6 year-old is traveling with me, but I'm in it to win it. The swag I speak of is not the term one uses when talking about getting some "cool". No. I'm talking about free stuff. Giveaways. Stuff that you would normally pay for.

I had missed my boat in getting sponsored for this trip (my play's recent run had me pre-occupied)so the travel is coming out of my pocket. So, the thought of free swag is exciting, particularly when I have been reading on twitter and the past blogs of participants in last year's conference. Some women attested to getting so much free stuff they had to give some away before they boarded their train b/c it wouldn't fit. Ahh.

In this depressed economy, for a creative like me who lives off their art, free is nice. I am currently taking on mini-projects and larger contracts to pay my bills as performance gigs nowadays that pay are few and far between. Here's hoping that I get some nice swag for me and my lovelies worth writing about:-) I know for a fact that I will have plenty to write about the bus ride to NYC w/ my little one. Bus rides always = blog worthy topics. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Exhale: Onward From Here



Reviewed by the Reviewed
 So, my play's run in the Capital Fringe Fest is over, ending Sunday after a five-day run. I am bone tired. The experience in Fringe was both exhilirating and extremely frustrating at times. Over 150 folks came over the course of the five days to check out the play and we got some great feedback from the folks who came to check it out. One client of mine, who is also a former classmate, was one of our biggest supporters, coming out to our teaser show and the play. She wrote me "I am loving the show! It was fabulous. Made me laugh, clap, even cry when Dionne sang “Something Else”. 4 stars for sure…” I wish she was one of the critics who had blog space in cyberspace. The two reviews that were written about the play by online media were insulting at best and biased at worst-- written by directors/writers/friends of other productions in the Capital Fringe Fest. One person wrote about DC Theatre Scene-- one of the spaces that reviewed my play-- "...it looks like reviewers with shows in Fringe are giving poor reviews to give their shows a better shot at getting an audience....an appearance of bias makes it hard to trust any reviews on this site." I appreciated reading that because it let me know that I was not alone in thinking the same thing.


Late Seating, C'mon, we talking about CPT
Fringe had no patience for Colored People TIme (CPT) which also stands for Caucasian People's Time and Chinese People's Time. It really is applicable to anyone who shows up at an event late as hell. For each of the shows (we had five), at least five people were not admitted in because they were late. I know, because those are the ones I found out about. Imagine the ones who weren't people I knew. I think that was a bit much. Our stage was not like others. If folks came in late, they could slink in and not be too disturbing. I think I should have been asked if I wanted that to happen rather than it be a blanket Fringe rule. That rule kind of caused a problem with my brand since I do events outside of the Fringe fest. One husband of one of cast members came from Baltimore from work and was turned away because he was five minutes late. C'mon now. It wasn't like we were able to start late to give folks a chance to come in. The Fringe staff were on us like white on rice prompting us to start on time, get out of the venue on time, etc. I want to take time in this space to say to those who were turned away, in the words of the lovely Lenny Kravitz and Mos Def, "It Ain't My Fault". But I'm sorry.


Cultural Differences, Not Necessarily a Race Thang
I had some good moments being in Fringe this year. But, honestly, I had a better experience last year. Maybe, because I was producing my show this year and had to work wayyy harder. Last year, I was an actress, writing some of the vignettes we performed. Jessica Solomon, the founder of the Saartjie Project was really the producer of our show last year. We got a lot of attention last year. This year, while the pre-festival buzz was awesome, we only got the sucky two reviews I mentioned above. I guess I learned that the Capital Fringe Festival was not the place to find an audience for my play this year. We had an audience-- our last two shows had about 50 folks respectively-- but most of those who came out were regular attendees to past Liberated Muse events, and friends and family of the cast. All of those folks I met at the Capital Fringe Opening event, nah. Didn't see them.

It would be too easy to say it was a race thing, I think that would be simplifying my sense of displacement. I think it was a cultural thing, if that makes any sense to those who look at culture and race being the same thing. It isn't. I think there were folks who were Black who came to see the play but didn't "get it" because they didn't have kids. Parenting is a culture in itself as is. I definitely think it is hard for the story of mothers to be recognized as a piece of value if there is not some over-the-top dramatic subject piece. Maybe if one of the mothers was also a murderer. Hmmm. But, really, I think it is a taste thing. My play was not the flavor folks frequenting Fringe wanted to taste. Where Running: AMOK was soulful, bluesy and committed to giving voice to the fears that overwhelm new mothers and those of us who aren't new mothers but still trying to find balance, the Capital Fringe Festival audience was more about quirk and wackiness that my play, alas, did not possess. To say it wasn't a fit is an understatement. For instance, the shows voted by the Fringe audience as being the best were about the Super Claudio brothers inspired by the Donkey Kong video game, Sleeping Beauty-- a puppet ballet, and a solo show about Killer Robots. Many of the folks who came out to see our show were friends and fans of the cast and Liberated Muse. So, I feel inspired and confident to produce the show, maybe next year, with the DC Black Theatre Festival next year. The festival debuts this year next month and I am thrilled to be presenting a workshop. My experience in Capital Fringe truly shed light for me personally why it is imperative that a festival like the DC Black Theatre Festival exists.

The Beautiful Thing About It Was...
But there isn't only complaint about the show's run. No, not at all. This half-year producing the play has been overwhelmingly positive. Here are some of the highlights:

1.) The AMAZING Talent that participated in the play
Ok, how lucky was I to have FOUR singers in my musical? And, not just anyone, really good singers. I met three of the singers-- Teisha Marie, Dionne and Angela "Anonamas" Ballard through activities connected to Liberated Muse and Quineice and I go way back. Yet, all of them auditioned to participate and I was thrilled. You can't get better vocalists than these ladies. Sudani Scott and Lyn Artope, though not professional singers, are professionals when it came to acting. Both made their stage debuts in my play and I've been told time and time again that their scene together is the best, acting-wise, in the play. It was truly a pleasure working them all and I look forward to working with some of them in future productions. I told Lyn that she better be ready because I'm gonna come calling!

2.)Able to work with Gary and Angie again
So, if you follow my blog, then you may recall past posts where I talk about my singing gigs where my boy Gary Young typically would accompany on guitar while my girl Angie Shaw would add support vocals. Well, if it wasn't clear then, then I need to reiterate how much I love them. We have so much fun together. This play allowed us to work together again, but in a very different capacity. Gary composed the instrumentals to all of my songs and Angie was the Assistant Director for the play. She turned out to be the mama to the cast, often filling in at rehearsals when I was out promoting or unable to attend for other reasons. She also was invaluable during the play as the stage manager since I was doing tech during the play. Working with her and Gary during the play was a definite highlight.

3.) The teaser show before the play
To promote the play, I had an event about a month before the play to get the word out. I called it a teaser show where excerpts and songs from the play were performed and the singers gave a mini concert. The show was probably my most well-attended event this year (aside from the play). It was great and really fun to plan. It was a great networking opportunity as well.



Me and the cast of Running: AMOK w/Binah & Margaux of the Saartjie Project
4.)Being Supported
The number of familiar faces who came out to support the play was overwhelming. I cried just thinking about it. I mean, there were two women there who were childhood classmates that I hadn't seen in over 20 years! It was beautiful, the level of support I received. I blogged about it on the play's website-- about how many female entrepreneurs were in the audience. I hoped the play was inspiring to all of them. Those that gave feedback had really great things to say. I would have to say that my dad's presence was the most touching. He gave me a standing ovation at the end of the night and keeps calling me to tell me how proud he is. That means so much. I didn't grow up with him, reconnecting only recently, so, his attention is like being a little kid all again.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I'm Officially "Running: AMOK"

I am officially "Running: AMOK". I am sooo overwhelmed and so tired, and it's 1am in the morning and I have trouble logging off this computer and going to bed. Today was an incredibly busy day! I am producing the Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest and my play at the same time and I realize that I was nuts to have decided to do both. As you can tell, if you catch up with my blog, my blogging has fallen a bit behind these past couple of months. Since my six year-old has been home for summer break, I run a summer camp of sorts for her and the daughter of one of the women in my play IN ADDITION to working for home and preparing for gigs here and there. One of the gigs was last Friday and it was so fun that I actually consider it a reprieve from my out-of-this world schedule. But, I am not complaining. I am living the life I asked for; and God knows that it is way better to be in demand than to be wondering when your ship is going to come in. Check out the photos of me with the gele (a swahili word for headwrap) at the banquet I performed at last week. They are on my Reverbnation page at http://www.reverbnation.com/KhadijahOnline. I felt elegant while wearing it and may incorporate it into my stage wardrobe. I wore geles a lot when I had very short hair, but I like how they look on me even now as I have longer hair.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Transforming Online Spaces to Art Places Panel @ the BlogHER conference in NYC

Last week had a conference call with the other women who will be on the panel I will be on in August in the BlogHer Conference in New York. The call was a planning call of sorts to make sure we are on the same page. The moderator is photographer Karen Walrond and she did a great job giving us heads up on what some of the questions will be so we can begin sort out our responses and preparing for the panel. Here is the description for the panel which borrows from Liberated Muse's Tagline "Transforming Spaces into Art Places":

Your online presence can be a crucial element as an artist. In this session, we’ll discuss blogging both for and as art. We'll share strategies to make your blog or MySpace/Facebook an extension of and place to showcase the heart behind your art. Join us as moderator and photographer Karen Walrond explores examples of artists, such as painter Carol Gillott and performer Khadijah Ali-Coleman, using social media to impact how they develop and share their art, secure gigs, sell products, reach their audiences and build their brands.

It's exciting for me because this will be the first conference panel where I'm on it as a performer instead of as a communications professional or educator. I will be talking about Liberated Muse, of course, but more about my re-emergence as a creative that has blossomed over the past two years thanks to online platforms like Youtube, Ning, Twitter and Facebook. All of the gigs I've gotten these past two years have been through the internet or b/c of the internet. I share with folks all of the time that I am able to give advice to other artists, create venues and put on events with the well-being of the artist in the forefront because of my own work as a performing artist and writer. I hope I will be able learn and share much in this upcoming conference.

Speaking of online platforms, check out my new Reverbnation page!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tickets to My Play On Sale NOW

Man, oh man! Time is flying and it is less than a month until my second play debuts. I am more than thrilled, definitely anxious, nervous and every other feeling in between. The ladies and I have a few more rehearsals until the shows run July 20-25 and there is still so much left to do!

You can buy tickets to the play now by checking out the play's website at http://www.amokrunning.wordpress.com/ and then clicking on the BUY TICKETS link or clicking on the link below. Thank you soooo much in advance for checking out the play:-)



The soundtrack to the play Running: AMOK will be on sale this coming Friday, July 9 on Bandcamp.com. You can listen NOW to sample tracks from the soundtrack on http://www.liberatedmuse.com/. The songs "LeShell's Song", "Something Else" and "I Wanna Be You" are uploaded on http://www.liberatedmuse.com/ for a listen and were recently performed at the teaser show for the play that was held on June 24 at Annie's Art Gallery. The song "LeShell's Song", which features vocalist Quineice,  was released with the first video promotion of the play. I wrote the lyrics to all of the songs and my buddy Gary composed the music. I'm so siced!

Here are some photos from the play's teaser show that I had on June 24 to advertise the play. Folks seemed to really dig it!  All photos courtesy of Sudani Scott who is one of the actresses in the play.


 (In photo: Me--Khadijah "Moon" Ali-Coleman, director & playwright of "Running: AMOK, co-hosts the teaser show with DeWayne Alston of SoulCityRadio.com)

 (In photo: Actress/singer Teisha Marie performs "I Wanna Be You" from the play "Running: AMOK" at the teaser show)

 (In photo: Singer/actress Quineice performs the song "I Wanna Be You" from the play "Running: AMOK")

 (In photo: Singer/Actress Dionne performs "Something Else" as the character Mama Belle)

 (In photo: Actress Sudani Scott performs an original poem during the Q & A session)

 (In photo: Over 50 people came to check out the teaser show for the play Running: AMOK, enjoying free cocktails and desserts)







Sociable

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