This week we celebrate the birthday of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was born August 15, 1917. A tireless champion of social justice for his people and outspoken critic of poverty and violent social repression. In the Core Ensemble show “Los Valientes” Romero is portrayed by actor David Perez Ribada. Here is a clip of the Archbishop recalling his place of birth:
And watch as Romero expounds upon his concept of peace:
Core Ensemble diversity programs would not exist without the help of our donors! Your support will enable us to create a Virtual Library of our Music Theatre Pieces that Celebrate Diversity and Social Justice. “Los Valientes” will be just one of our virtual show offerings, to be made available to schools, community groups, colleges, and universities. THANK YOU!
Ida B. Wells, journalist and activist was born on July 16, 1862. Born a slave and freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, she battled sexism, racism and violence throughout her life. She is a 2020 posthumous recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific violence against African Americans during the era of lynching.
Actress Shinnerrie Jackson portrays Ida B. Wells in the Core Ensemble’s new show: UNBOUGHT. This post features video excerpts of Ms. Wells’ 1920 speech celebrating the passage of the 19th Amendment, granting Women the Right to Vote! Here is Shinnerie speaking about her first exposure to Ida B. Wells:
Ida B. Wells was one of the original founders of the NAACP and the National Association of Colored Women, created to address civil rights and women’s suffrage. She traveled internationally shedding light on lynching in the United States. She is remembered for her life and work as one of the most outstanding women of her day.
In 1893, Ida married famed African American lawyer Ferdinand Barnett. The couple had four children and throughout her career Ida balanced motherhood with her incredible activism.
Ida and her family lived at 3624 Grand Boulevard in Chicago from 1919-1930. She founded the first African American kindergarten in that city.
Core Ensemble diversity programs would not exist without the help of our donors! Please consider a contribution today to sustain our virtual library of shows illuminating social justice and to ensure that we may resume live performances when it is safe to do so.
Frida Kahlo, one of Mexico’s greatest artists, was born onJuly 6, 1907, but claimed that she was born three years later so that people would associate her with the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Our suggestion for Frida’s Birthday Cake: Mexican Cinnamon-Swirl Bundt Cake with Chili-Ganache Frosting!
The Core Ensemble first produced its chamber music theater show “Tres Vidas” in 2001. Based on the lives of three legendary Latin American Women (Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, Salvadoran peasant activist Rufina Amaya and Argentinean poet Alfonsina Storni), for nearly 20 years the show has been seen in hundreds of venues around the United States and the United Kingdom. We offer special thanks to script writer Marjorie Agosin and the wonderful actresses who have worked with us: Georgina Corbo, Karina Barros, Desiree Rodriguez, Roseanne Almanzar, Denise Estrada, Cristina Obando, Rosa Rodriguez, Francisca Munoz, and Jenyvette Vega.
Frida Kahlo left us a joyful legacy through her paintings that celebrated the colorful Mexican culture that she loved while fearlessly exploring gender, class, race and identity.
Frida Kahlo’s style was iconic: her famous unibrow shows a rebelliousness in an era when such a thing might have been plucked into submission. Frida adopted a traditional style of Tehuana dress: full skirts, embroidered blouses and a regal coiffure, accented with the flowers of Mexico: gardenias, dahlias, and bougainvillea.
Frida Kahlo was rumored to have had numerous affairs with both men and women – the list is impressive: Soviet revolutionary Leon Trotsky, Japanese sculptor Isamo Noguchi, actress Dolores Del Rio, Hungarian American photographer Nicolas Muray, artist Georgia O’Keefe, Mexican chanteuse Chavela Vargas – but the greatest of all her loves was Mexican painter and muralist Diego Rivera, whom she married not once, but twice! In this video clip from the Core Ensemble show “Los Valientes”, hear Paulo Quiros as Diego talk about his passionate relationship with Frida.
Your support of music theatre that celebrates diversity is more important than ever. Core Ensemble programs would not exist without the help of our donors! Please consider a contribution today to sustain our virtual library of shows illuminating social justice and to ensure that we may resume live performances when it is safe to do so.
Lake Worth, Florida, sometimes known as “the Greenwich Village of South Florida”, is home base for the Core Ensemble. Our community’s abundant interest in the arts is one of the reasons we love being here, and the glorious weather is the frosting on the cake! The Core Ensemble has received the designation “Artists in Residence” at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, an inclusive Christian community (www.standrewslw.net). Our five-event 2015-16 free series at St. Andrew’s (100 N. Palmway, Lake Worth, FL 33460 includes:
October 25th 4 pm – “Harvest of Voices-Cuentos de los Campos”
January 17th 4 pm – A Musical and Theatrical Tribute to Fannie Lou Hamer
(in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act)
January 19th7 pm – “Of Ebony Embers-Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance”
January 20th 2 pm – Beethoven/Brahms Recital by Core Ensemble pianist Hugh Hinton
March 6th 4 pm – “Frida Kahlo Lives!” in celebration of Women’s History Month
For more information about the series at St. Andrew’s call 561-582-6609.
In addition, community outreach programs bring us to farm worker communities around Palm Beach County for performances of “Harvest of Voices” in English and Spanish. Educational programs celebrating diversity and social justice will bring us to schools and afterschool programs in Palm Beach and Broward Counties. All of this is made possible by the Broward Student Enrichment Trust Fund, the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs (www.florida-arts.org) and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County (www.palmbeachculture.com).
Our local collaborators include the Farmworker Coordinating Council of Palm Beach (www.farmworkercouncil.org), the Broward County School Board, the City of Lake Worth Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Committee, and the Lake Worth Interfaith Network (www.lwinterfaith.net).
The Core Ensemble is celebrating Frida today – we love her vibrant colors, her potent symbolism, her rich interpretations of Mexican culture! Here's my favorite quote from Frida – have you ever felt this way?:
“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it's true I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you.”
One year ago today I invented a birthday cake for Frida. The goal was to use the flavors of Mexico that Frida loved. It turned out to be a Cinnamon-Swirl Bundt Cake with a Chili-Chocolate Ganache Frosting. It got the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval from my friends Steve Arterburn and Patricia Masterman. Here's how it looked:
Frida’s actual birthday was July 6th, but she always gave her birth date as July 7th, to coincide with the beginning of the Mexican Revolution.
The Core Ensemble celebrates Frida every year in Hispanic Heritage Month in our touring show “Tres Vidas”: https://www.coreensemble.com/shows-on-tour/tres-vidas/ This fall “Tres Vidas” will travel to California, Oregon, Texas, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina and Tennessee!
Alfonsina Storni was born on May 29, 1892. She is considered to be one of the most important Argentine and Latin American poets of the modernist period. Much of her work focuses on the repression of women. She died in Buenos Aires on October 25, 1938. TheCore Ensemble celebrates Alfonsina in our touring show “Tres Vidas” (Three Lives): https://www.coreensemble.com/shows-on-tour/tres-vidas/
The Core Ensemble’s touring season ended this week with two performances in St. Louis, MO. In addition to touring our repertoire shows (Los Valientes, Tres Vidas, Of Ebony Embers, and Ain’t I a Woman!), we premiered a new music theatre piece, “Harvest of Voices”, a collaboration with the Farmworker Coordinating Council of the Palm Beaches. Did the season have its challenges? Yes, definitely – in the form of appalling weather around the U.S. that resulted in costly venue cancellations. Is global warming affecting our business? Absolutely! But Mother Nature notwithstanding, it was a GREAT year. Over the past months, what stands out more than anything are the wonderful Core Ensemble artists. It was our best season ever for amazing collegiality and fruitful artistic collaboration! Applause! Applause!
It’s Shrove Tuesday – or Mardi Gras! Preparing for the season of Lent, this is the day when Christians scour their kitchens for eggs, fat, milk, and butter, using up all the yummy ingredients that might be turned into something delicious and non-penitential. Pancakes, for instance! Thinking about Mardi Gras puts me in mind of Zora Neale Hurston’s time in New Orleans and the amazing anthropological research she did there. In Zora’s biography, Robert E. Hemenway describes “the unique context of Zora Neale Hurston's fieldwork… the pressures were both racial and sexual. She was a pioneering role model as a woman who rejected sexual roles, traveling with only a handgun, a two-dollar dress, a suitcase full of courage through some of the roughest and remotest parts of the rural south”. Imagine being a single, black, educated woman in the late 1920’s exploring Vodou (or “Hoodoo”) in the Deep South! Zora published two works on New Orleans Vodou: Mules and Men and Hoodoo in America. Zora’s field work was significant to African American religious history; she explored the deep knowledge of the ancestors, transformative healing rituals and the ancient wisdom of her people.
Christy Hall as Zora Neale Hurston
As for me, I will make a King Cake (traditional today in New Orleans) and eat Pancakes.
The Core Ensemble continues its busy Black History Month touring with TWO shows on the road simultaneously: “Of Ebony Embers-Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance” and a new duo version of “Ain’t I a Woman!” for actress and piano. This new version of a perennial favorite is perfect for small venues. Actress Christy Hall loves performing this very intimate show and audiences are LOVING her!
Byron Sean is her supporting artist, bringing his own dramatic flair to some great piano repertoire.
I can’t help bragging by sharing what people are saying about them:
It was such a pleasure having Christy and Byon perform…the duo worked really well for our intimate theatre…Christy was able to connect very directly – it was a wonderful evening! – Jeri Suarez, Associate Dean for Cultural and Community Engagement, Hollins University, VA
It was something you don’t see every day…this was fantastic, with the music, interludes and character changes! – Alva Cellini, Director of Women’s Studies, St. Bonaventure University, NY.
I thought the two performers were fabulous! Lisa Wilson, Office of Inclusive Excellence, Mary Baldwin College, VA
This week the Core Ensemble will launch its national tour of “Of Ebony Embers-Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance” – a month-long touring celebration of a great period in our nation’s cultural history. Our fabulous actor Jamyl Dobson is back again to portray the iconic African Americans who left a legacy of amazing art for all Americans to cherish.
Our handsome trio will perform works by Ellington, Strayhorn, Mingus, Monk and many others – a brilliant soundscape illuminating the emotional life of the show.
I will celebrate Black History Month in my own way – by consuming an entire box of the Core Ensemble’s signature chocolate collection, “Harlem Sweeties”, inspired by the Langston Hughes poem. You can get them for your own sweetie – (for Valentine's Day?) at the Core Store:
Brown sugar lassie,
Sweet enough to eat.
Coffee and cream,
Out of a dream.
Or cocoa brown,
Pride of the town.
To plum-tinted black,
In Harlem's no lack.
And while I'm eating those chocolates, I'll be wearing a hat that Zora Neale Hurston would covet – captured here by the Core Ensemble's favorite photographer, John Robuck.