Gomela/to return: Movement of Our Mother Tongue

National touring show highlights stories of African American communities through dance, music and theater.

Gomela/to returnDALLAS (SMU) --- SMU Meadows School of the ArtsIgnite/Arts Dallas initiative and the South Dallas Cultural Center (SDCC) present the Dallas appearance of Junebug Productions’ nationally touring show Gomela/to return: Movement of Our Mother Tongue, April 7-8. Junebug, which is based in New Orleans, developed Gomela as an original, multi-disciplinary performance highlighting the stories and histories of New Orleans’ African-American communities.

Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Saturday at the SDCC, 3400 S. Fitzhugh, Dallas 75210. Tickets are $10 per person and are available at www.igniteartsdallas.com.  For more information, call the SDCC at 214-939-2787.

Gomela, a Bantu word, means “to go back to/to return.” Directed by Stephanie McKee and developed by dancers Kesha McKey, Kai Knight, Jeremy Guyton and poet Sunni Patterson, Gomela takes audience members on a journey through time and space. Illuminating the connection between Africa, Haiti and New Orleans, Gomela highlights the vibrant and percussive movements and stories that breathe life into ancient African dance and drumming and contemporary artistic expression, including spoken word, hip-hop and jazz. Each show will be followed by discussions with audience members who will be encouraged to share their own experiences, sparked by the performance.

Gomela is an experience of collective memories passed down from generation to generation, a tapestry woven by a group of multi-disciplinary artists who represent the diversity of African Americans who call New Orleans home,” said McKee, the executive artistic director of Junebug Productions. “Gomela is based on hope, survival, courage and the resilience that exists in the face of oppression. It is about the heartbeat of a people that will never die, the culture and traditions that continue to evolve, grow and survive the test of time.”

Gomela/to return“This works exemplifies the interdisciplinary narrative approach to storytelling that younger generations of artists are making today,” said Clyde Valentin, director of Ignite/Arts Dallas. “Junebug has an unprecedented history of making theater across the South for the last 40 years, and under their next generation of artistic leadership the work looks and feels like a mixtape, a painting, a documentary film, a poem all rolled into one. What hasn’t changed is the urgent need to tell the untold stories of struggle, resistance and resilience in the face of injustice. It’s an honor to be collaborating with South Dallas Cultural Center on bringing this production to Dallas.”

Lighting designer Evan Spigelman, sound designer Muthi Reed, projection designer Jason Foster, costume designer Ja’nese of Aya Designs and recorded music by trumpeter Troy Sawyer and singer Janet “Sula Spirit” Evans of Zion Trinity will bring life to the sights and sounds of Gomela.

Gomela was awarded a prestigious 2015 New England Foundation for the Arts National Theater Project creation and touring grant. The spring 2017 national tour includes performances in Dallas, San Antonio, Knoxville and other cities. Additional support for Gomela comes from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation and Alternate ROOTS. 

About Junebug Productions

Junebug Productions is the organizational successor to the Free Southern Theater, which developed in the 1960s and used the arts to promote civil rights. The mission of Junebug Productions is to create and support artistic works that question and confront inequitable conditions that have historically impacted the African American community. Through interrogation, Junebug challenges itself and those aligned with the organization to make greater and deeper contributions towards a just society. For more information about Junebug Productions, please visit the website.

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Media Contact:

Victoria Winkelman
SMU Meadows School of the Arts