Evaluating Black Representation and the Black Imagination in ​Séancers

A special message from our partner, FringeArts:

By: Kyle O’Kane 


This May, FringeArts presents Séancers, an innovative production created by Bessie Award nominated Nigerian-American curator, poet, and performance artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko. His performance, to be presented from May 10-12 on the FringeArts stage, centers around one main theme: blackness. With recent blockbusters delivering representation, especially Marvel’s recent hit Black Panther, Séancers hopes to add on to the conversation to examine the American racialized body in a beautiful way. By incorporating various styles of art including lyrical poetry, movement forms, and discursive performance, the audience observes how loss and oppression can ultimately shapeshift into black beauty.

Jaamil Olawale Kosoko is the driving force behind Séancers, a piece focusing on the body through psychic, spiritual, and theoretical strategies. Kosoko’s previous work includes #negrophobia, described as a kind of séance. After touring throughout Europe over the past couple years for #negrophobia, Séancers came naturally to Kosoko as a progression of themes like paranormal activity, loss, and resurrection. The performance takes the audience on a journey through the surreal and fantastical states of the black imagination. When discussing the themes explored in the piece, Kosoko states, “There are 4 pieces of creative works by Black Women in particular that serve as inspirations and/or thematic musings for Séancers. [They include] ”Power” by Audre Lorde, Howardena Pindell’s Free, White, and 21, Rudy Sales’s incredible speech as part of an interview with Krista Tippett, “Where Does It Hurt?” [and] Christina Sharpe’s 2016 release In the Wake: On Blackness and Being.” He treats these works as pillars that function as the foundation for Séancers.

When asked how Séancers contributes to discussions about black representation like Black Panther, he notes, “Similarly, my work is concerned with Black Feminism, Black Study, Black Life, and Black Survival.” He values the visibility of the black individual, wishing for it to continue in coming years. Kosoko also wishes to raise awareness for other marginalized groups, who may not see themselves represented in media and art either. He says, “It’s also important to me that I center and support People of Color, queer, women, and gender variant individuals within my creative practice.” By supporting, and even more importantly, centering on these groups, Kosoko is inviting them to finally get their time in the spotlight as well. From a personal perspective, Jaamil recounts, “I’m also thinking a lot about Black theory, which has been incredibly healing and informative for me as a way to come to terms with personal and societal trauma.”

When it comes to discussing race in an academic setting, Kosoko believes his production has a lot to offer to university students and the conversation on race as a whole. He argues, “I think young people need to become more comfortable discussing race so that it may be dismantled with brave care and sensitivity. But this takes practice like most things…I think there’s a lot that we can learn from the visuality of Blackness, (past, present, and future). This is what Black performance allows us to begin to reckon with and decode.”

This thought-provoking performance runs from May 10 – May 12 at FringeArts’ waterfront headquarters, 140 N. Columbus Blvd. (at Race St.). Tickets cost $15 for students and are available by phone at 215-413-1318 or online at FringeArts.com.

CREDITS

Séancers by Jaamil Olawale Kosoko

Written by: Jaamil Olawale Kosoko

Directed by: Jaamil Olawale Kosoko

Sound artist: Jeremy Troussaint-Baptiste

Video installation: Andrew Amorim

Performers/Creators: Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Tara Sheena

Major support for Séancers has been provided to Jaamil Olawale Kosoko by Abrons Arts Center and Danspace Project with additional funding support from MAP Fund, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Princeton Arts Fellowship, and the Jerome Foundation.

When School’s Out, Philly Summer is IN!

The semester may be almost over, but the best time to be in Philly is just getting started. With perfect temperatures for walking around, trees in bloom, and al fresco dining in its peak season, the spring and summer months are the best of the year.

Whether you have family in town visiting for graduation, or have posted so many impressive photos of Philly throughout the year that your friends couldn’t stay away, the five spots below will help you show your friends and family around the city you call home. Trust us on this one – they’re going to recognize you as the expert on the must-see, must-experience sites in downtown Philly.

1. Start off the day with a panoramic view of the entire city and the ‘burbs, 57 floors up, with the Philly from the Top tour at One Liberty Observation Deck. Take a selfie with the best view in the city as your backdrop – there’s 360° of Instagram-worthy shots ready for you to snap and share.Guided tours are free after admission during scheduled tour times (11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m. & 5 p.m.). Bonus: admission is just $10 per person for groups of 15 or more!

2. After you’ve scoped out your favorite neighborhoods from the top of the city, head down to the street level and grab a bagel at Chestnut Street Bagels, just down the block. Go for the Rainbow Brite specialty sandwich: birthday cake cream cheese on a tie-dye colored bagel. Trust on this one – it’s delicious.

3. Our favorite way to explore a new neighborhood is by walking around, people watching, and visiting local shops and cafes. Rittenhouse Row (from Broad to 21st Streets, between Spruce and Market) is filled with more than 200 dining, retail and cultural establishments, but the best spot to explore is Walnut Street.Sip on a cold brew iced coffee or a fruit smoothie from Saxby’s on the corner of 20th and stroll eastward down Walnut Street to visit high-end stores mixed in with local shops. Sit on a bench in Rittenhouse Square and people watch in the sunshine. Admire the baroque-style architecture of the Academy of Music and snap a photo of the iconic City Hall before crossing Broad Street (also known as the Avenue of the Arts).

4. Philadelphia is the birthplace of America, and the spot where it all went down is just a short walk or ride away. Marvel at the historic significance of Independence Hall, visit the National Constitution Center and check out their educational exhibits, and tour the Betsy Ross House.

5. After a busy day of trekking across the city, relax at one of Old City District’s many restaurants. Ranging in cuisine from Latin to Italian to American to almost anything you can imagine, there’s something for everyone, and most places have outdoor seating for optimal people watching.

Bonus: for one last Instagram-worthy snapshot of your day in Philly, head back to Observation Deck to see a panoramic view of the city against the sunset sky. Observation Deck offers a specialSun and Stars” admission ticket, and if you plan ahead, you can purchase this in advance for a special deal for two total Observation Deck visits in 48 hours. After all, an experience like Observation Deck deserves an encore.

We want to share in your Philly experience! Post your photos from the Observation Deck, or any of your favorite spots throughout your incredible day in Philly, to Instagram and tag @CampusPhilly. We’ll share your photos throughout the summer!

Want more insider tips on how to make the most of your time in Philly? Subscribe to our Student Newsletter to learn about upcoming events, Campus Philly opportunities, and the best ways to spend your summer in Philly.

Exploring identity in ¡BIENVENIDOS BLANCOS! or WELCOME WHITE PEOPLE!

A special message from our partner, FringeArts:

By: Kyle O’Kane 


This April, FringeArts and Team Sunshine Performance Corporation present
¡ BIENVENIDOS BLANCOS! OR WELCOME WHITE PEOPLE!, a world premiere
collaboration between the Philadelphia-based theater company and Cuban theater artists. The play tackles pressing contemporary issues like economic oppression, race, and embargoes, and it’s a show that sprung from questions of identity. In Bienvenidos Blancos, identity is fractured, as individuals struggle to reconcile their Latinx identity with their American one.

Cuban-American director and Team Sunshine co-founder Alex Torra is the lead artist behind Bienvenidos Blancos ’ magic. When asked in an interview about the title, he replied, “Back in 2015, I had an opportunity to travel to Cuba for the first time. I was really taken aback by how many of my interactions were tourism-based…focused on getting white tourists to have a great time and spend money. It’s for the sake of survival, for sure, but it makes me deeply uncomfortable.” On his experience in America, Torra shares, “ A big complication for me is my white Latinoness. I present white…but I’m part of a Latinx minority group. Along the way, I deleted my Miami accent, and I worked hard to fit and succeed. I ‘whitened’.” With Bienvenidos Blancos, he hopes to go back to his roots and dig deep into what it means to be Cuban-American.

A term relevant to the themes of identity in Bienvenidos Blancos is “double-consciousness,” coined by W.E.B DuBois in The Souls of Black Folk . With it, DuBois touches on the idea of the fractured identity, when you contain more than one social identity and it becomes difficult to develop a sense of self. Torra definitely feels this double-consciousness in his life, reflecting, “ I find myself in Anglo spaces and find myself not quite fitting in…[and] when I go to Miami or Havana, I don’t quite fit in anymore in Cuban spaces. I feel a little stuck.” It’s a challenging place to be in, and in a society that focuses heavily on putting us into a single category, how do we as people maintain an identity that ticks multiple boxes?

Bienvenidos Blancos is the latest game-changing production from Team Sunshine Performance Corporation. Past productions include The Sincerity Project (2014 and 2016)—an anti-play ritual where the same ensemble comes back every 2 years to discuss the memories and lives they’ve made— Henry IV: Your Prince and Mine (2014), and JapanAmerica Wonderwave (2011). Bienvenidos Blancos is their most ambitious work yet, bringing together artists from Cuba with Cuban-Americans and white Americans. Torra is specifically excited to show this to university students, stating, “Our audience has always skewed young, and because the piece is rooted in my particular questions, in a 1 st generation Latino encountering his ‘home’ culture, that felt like an experience that a lot of young Latinx individuals could relate to.”

This performance runs from April 18 – April 28 at FringeArts’ waterfront headquarters, 140 N. Columbus Blvd. (at Race St.) and will feature local Afro-Cuban Rumba performers each night of the run. Tickets cost $15 for students and are available by phone online at FringeArts.com . College Night with Campus Philly is April 19th, where the first 50 Open Arts members to register can see the production for free.

Live in the Philly Moment!

What an exciting time to be a student in Philadelphia! The Eagles are Super Bowl bound, The Franklin Institute has a special student discount to see the famed Terracotta Warriors and there are cool upcoming events happening all over the city, PLUS Open Arts Membership Week and Wired:Philly, our recruiting event for science and tech majors.  Below are our weekend picks!

P.S. Take this quick survey for your chance to win a free dinner in the city.

Deal Alert! The Franklin Institute is offering a student discount (only $10!) for a special Evening with The Terracotta Warriors on Thursday, February 8. Create an Open Arts account (FREE!) to access this deal.

 

 

Now’s Your Chance to Become a Member of Open Arts Philly

January 14 – 21 is Open Arts Membership Week!  Sign-up at openartsphilly.com/activate. Members get access to awesome discounts, free tickets and the ability to be part of our Open Arts College Nights, all for FREE.

Now What? Six Things to Do in Philly Now That Class Is Out

 

7 Ways to Take A Study Break in Philadelphia

The Semester is Coming to a Close, and Philadelphia Festivities Are Just Beginning!

While your semester is winding down, Philadelphia is going full-steam-ahead into the holiday season! From local holiday markets to free museum days, here are some ways to take a study break and enjoy Philadelphia in its festive glory.

Channel your inner Olympic champion by bringing your best moves to the ice at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. With a valid student ID, get free skate admission at the rink Monday through Thursday until December 21st. Skate rental not included.

Planning to shop til you drop this Saturday? Refuel with sweet treats at the Crepes and Cocoa Pop-Up near a.kitchen, 135 S. 18th St.

Speaking of shopping, there are several holiday markets happening this weekend! Crafty Balboa Holiday, 2017 South Philly Handmade BrigadeHandmade: Indoor Market & DIY WorkshopsGo West Craft Fest

Run, run Rudolph! Lace up your sneakers for Saturday’s free Rudolph Run in Manayunk.

Celebrate Weckerly’s Ice Cream one year birthday at their first brick-and-mortar shop at 9 W. Girard Ave. “Throughout the day (and while supplies last), guests will enjoy a complimentary slice of birthday cake with a purchased scoop of ice cream.”

Head to Old City for Saturday’s Philly Holiday Festival’s Free Museum Day at National Liberty Museum. After, browse the unique Old City boutiques or stop by Franklin Fountain for their Holiday Hot Fudge Sundae.

On Tuesday night, watch the ’90s classic, “Home Alone,” on the big screen at PFS Roxy. No need to get dressed up for the occasion. The holiday movie screening will also be a pizza and pajama party…students receive a discount.

Get your bike ready to ride and shine for the Bicycle Coalitions’ Holiday Lights Ride on Wednesday. The ‘best-spirited costume’ will receive fun prizes!

Looking for more? Check out Eight Festive Events Happening in Philly and our Campus Philly calendar.

 

Make It Count! 5 Ways to Get the Most out of Your Week

Your upcoming winter break is the perfect time to lock down your spring internship! Create your free Launch account at campusphilly.org/launch to check out hundreds of local gigs like the ones featured in our Top 5 picks.


It’s the most wonderful time of year in Philadelphia! These 8 Festive Events Happening in Philly Right Now” are happening all month long so check ’em out.


If you want to find unique gifts for your friends and family and support local artists and makers, check out these upcoming holiday markets.


RSVP to the Inclusive Leadership Conference! This popular event takes place on Saturday, February 3, 10AM – 4PM, at Temple University’s Howard Gittis Student Center.


Looking for more? Our calendar is a great resource for planning your Philadelphia adventure!

 

 

Your Guide to Holiday Shopping in Philly

With all the upcoming holiday markets happening this month, it will be easy to  find something for everyone on your list! Check out our picks below and visit our calendar page for more things to do around the city.

Stag & Doe Nights 
Wednesdays | December 6, 13, 20 | Chestnut Hill
Stroll along the festive Germantown Avenue and enjoy extended store hours (until 9 PM) along with holiday sales and promotions throughout the Chestnut Hill shopping district. 


Crafty Balboa Holiday
Saturday, December 9 from 11AM-5PM | BOK Building, 1901 S. 9th Street
A holiday makers market featuring handmade wares from over 80 makers, artists, and crafters. Preview our vendors here. The first 100 shoppers will receive a tote bag from Occasionette filled with goodies from our vendors!! Lume Creative and The Art Dept will host Make and Take tables highlighting handmade holiday crafts.


2017 South Philly Handmade Brigade
Saturday, December 9 from 11AM-6PM| 1241 Carpenter Street
Touted as the “best annual holiday party in South Philadelphia,” the Brigade is a shopping event featuring affordable and original artwork & gifts by local artists. Glass, ceramics, jewelry, clothing, housewares, and more!


Handmade: Indoor Market & DIY Workshops at Fleisher Art Memorial
Saturday, December 9 from 12PM-5PM | 719 Catherine Street
More than 30 vendors curated by Shannon Maldonado, founder of YOWIE. Twenty-five Philly Small Press Faire vendors, DIY workshops for adults plus more! 


Go West Craft Fest
Sunday, December 10 from 10AM-4PM | The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street
​Find unique holiday gifts by 70 local makers. Quality handmade jewelry, ceramics, knitted accessories, clothing, prints, original art, stationery, home wares, children’s’ items, soaps, candles, holiday items and more… 


Open House: Pop-up Holiday Market at the Barnes Foundation
Friday, December 15 from 5PM-8PM | 2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy

Featuring free admission to the Barnes collection and Kiefer Rodin exhibition! This holiday market is a great, one-stop-shop for interesting artsy and eco-friendly gifts, including cool apparel, handmade jewelry and artisanal goods. Visitors will also have access to art after hours, and winter-inspired spirits and gastro fare, including complimentary treats from Whole Foods. 


Punk Rock Flea Market at BOK
Saturday, Dec. 16 & Sunday, Dec.17 from 10AM-5PM |  1901 S. 9th Street
The Punk Rock Flea Market returns with the 2017 Holiday Edition! Over 100 vendors per day, different vendors each day! $3 to enter, entry good for both days. The event is in the Boy’s Gym of the BOK building, enter on Mifflin St.