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.

Here’s What to Expect at the 2018 Inclusive Leadership Conference

You’re registered to attend the 2018 Inclusive Leadership Conference or you’re thinking about registering – if that’s the case, email Cory Dulaney to see if there is still room.  If this is your first ILC, or you need a refresher, this is what to expect and how to prepare for the 2018 Inclusive Leadership Conference!

What is ILC?
The Inclusive Leadership Conference is an annual day-long conference for college students from the Greater Philadelphia Region. It is taking place this February 3rdfrom 10AM – 4PM at Temple University’s Howard Gittis Student CenterKeynote presentations set the tone for the day followed by three sessions, each session has up to seven discussions for you to choose. Continental breakfast and lunch is included!

Who will be there?
Last year we saw nearly 400 students from various schools in the Greater Philadelphia region (Philly, the suburbs of Philly, South Jersey, and Delaware). Our keynotes for the year include Michael O’Bryan (Village of Arts and Humanities), Tiffany Tavarez (Wells Fargo), and Mayor Jim Kenney (City of Philadelphia). Community and civic leaders, entrepreneurs, regional businesses and higher education professionals are leading the discussions.

What will we discuss?
This year’s theme is Finding Your Voice: Advocating for Self & Others. We all come from different experiences, backgrounds, and are born with different skills and passions. No one voice is, or should be, the same. Some may protest racial injustices by walking in solidarity and others may organize the protest, getting all the proper documentation in order. Some may write a song for gender equality and others may perform that song. No voice is better than another, and we need all of our voices! Maybe you know your voice or maybe you want to discover it. In either case, we want you to leave this conference with the motivation to (re)discover your voice, the knowledge on how you should use your voice, and ways in which to flex your voice!

How to prepare.
Start thinking about what you’re naturally good at. What skills were you born with and what are you passionate about? Your voice is part of an intricate puzzle, and a space is perfectly tailored for you. Sometimes, though, other people’s space look more appealing and may get more recognition. Activists who chain themselves around a tree seem cool, but what about the person who writes policy to save trees? Film directors may have their work on clean water shown across the world, but what about the behind the scenes editors and camerapersons? Come with questions on how to find your voice, where to use your voice, how to help others find their voice, etc…

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via my email or phone info below. If not, look forward to hearing your voice on February 3rd!

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out via email or phone.

Peace!
Cory Dulaney
Campus Philly Program Manager
215-988-1707 || cory@campusphilly.org
 

Hello, 2018! We’re Getting Fit, Giving Back and Planning Our Cheat Day

Exercise your body and mind! Here’s Where to Get Fit in Philly Without Going Broke and where to test your pop culture knowledge at these themed trivia nights.

Lend a helping hand on Martin Luther King Day on Monday, January 15. The 23rd Annual Greater Philadelphia MLK Day of Service has a long list of community volunteer opportunities.

Take a break from your clean eating resolution for one day. Come on, it’s just one! CCD Restaurant Week is happening January 14-26 at 50+ local spots. Three-course lunch, $20. Three-course dinner, $35. This is a popular deal so make your reservations now.

A Snowy Bowie Skate on Saturday, January 13 and Open Arts College Night: Skate Night on Wednesday, January 31both happening at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest.

Start the New Year off right by finding, advocating, and teaching others to discover their voice! Campus Philly and Temple University will be hosting the Inclusive Leadership Conference on Feb. 3 for ALL Philadelphia-area college students. Register here.

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

Ring in the New Year Philly-style!

Welcoming the New Year in Philadelphia is like the dessert of the holiday season. You think you’re done after opening presents and family get-togethers, but hold up! New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are here for the sweet ending. Here are our picks for ringing in the New Year in Philly:

SugarHouse New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront
Sunday, December 31 | 6PM-12AM
Celebrate the biggest night of the year with fireworks! Two shows, at 6PM and Midnight. 

New Year’s Funkin’ Eve at FringeArts (21+)
Sunday, December 31 | 10PM – 2AM
$35 for students and ages 21-25 gets you: 
• all the grooves you can handle
• all the balloons you can handle
• champagne toast
• a floor to bust a groove on to the tunes of the renowned band Ill Doots and Philadelphia favorite DJ Dame Luz

The Ping-Pong Prom (21+)
Sunday, December 31 | 9PM – 2AM
Ping-pong social club SPiN is throwing a unique New Year’s Eve bash. The 21-plus crowd is invited to Ping-Pong Prom, where you can eat, drink, dance and play.

Plus here’s “Cheap or free Philly New Year’s Eve parties ($20 or less)” (21+)

The Mummers Parade 2018
Monday, January 1 | Parade Start: 9AM
During the festive, nearly 120-year-old tradition, 10,000 men, women and children dressed in colorfully lavish costumes twirl, sashay, pirouette and strut down one of the city’s main streets. The 2018 Mummers Parade parade begins at City Hall and continues south to Washington Avenue.

 

 

 

 

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

 

7 Ways to Take A Study Break in Philadelphia