2015 PLAY READING SERIES
Friday, April 17, 2015 @ 8:00 p.m.
BIG BUTT GIRLS, HARD-HEADED WOMEN
By Rhodessa Jones
Directed by Erin Nicole Washington
Location: Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., LA 90028
Cost: $10 Suggested donation
Please note: This play contains strong language and adult themes. Suitable for mature audiences only.
About the Play
Rhodessa Jones’ Big Butt Girls, Hard Headed Women, is a visceral, raw theatre piece based on the lives and times of real incarcerated women. Utilizing theatre, movement, and song, the performance anchors words born out of a silence so particular to women who are waiting: women waiting for bail, for mail, for the latest word concerning her child, money from her man, the next visit from her sister, her mother, or the word from her lawyer. The theatrics are based on the question: “Is there a way to retrieve the lives of our sisters and their families?” There are children literally lost between the cracks of our society.
In 1987, Rhodessa Jones was hired to teach “aerobics” at San Francisco’s City Jail. On her first day, it became very clear that something else was called for. She had entered another world, populated by wild, wounded, crazed, cracked, carefree, dangerous, devious, destructive but colorful women: women wading in pain, wearing their displacement like some strange badge of courage; women who had met the “devil” and found him to be a very dull dude; misguided women who, with a bit of direction, could be running the world. The work called on all her faculties as an “art teacher.”
As a creative survivalist, she used everything: aerobics, stand-up comedy, music, religion, chastisement, sign language, true confession games, improvisational theatre, and lots of physical expression, such as hugs and touching (which was against the rules.) She described the experience as being exhilarating, painful, outrageous and frightening, but always alive with honesty, mirth and generous humor.
About the Playwright
RHODESSA JONES is Co-Artistic Director of the San Francisco acclaimed performance company Cultural Odyssey. She is an actress, teacher, singer, and writer. Ms. Jones is also the Director of the award winning Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women, which is a performance workshop that is designed to achieve personal and social transformation with incarcerated women. Ms. Jones was just recently the Spring 2014 Interdisciplinary Artist in Residence for the College of Letters and Science and the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Beginning in 2015 Rhodessa will be a Visiting Professor at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California. During January 2014, Rhodessa traveled to New York City to the PUBLIC THEATER to direct BLESSING THE BOATS: THE REMIX, Sekou Sundiata’s acclaimed solo theater work.
To begin 2013 The Office of Mayor Edwin M. Lee and the San Francisco Art Commission presented the 2013 Mayor’s Art Award to Rhodessa Jones, for her “lifetime of artistic achievement and enduring commitment to the role of the arts in civic life”. The SF Weekly Magazine recently proclaimed Rhodessa as San Francisco’s Best Artist-Activist Working with Prisoners. In June 2012, the U.S. Department of State, Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau selected Rhodessa as an “ARTS ENVOY”, as one of San Francisco’s most revered artists, she received grant support to journey to South Africa to continue her work inside the Naturena Women’s Prison in Johannesburg, South Africa.
In 2007 Rhodessa conducted her first U.S. Department of State Speakers Tour of Russia where she conducted performances and workshops at University of Moscow, the American Center, and University of Rayzen. In December of 2007 Ms. Jones received a United States Artist Fellowship to support her work. In 2004 she was honored with an Honorary Doctorate from California College of the Arts. Rhodessa’s work has been published in a new book entitled, “Solo/Black/Woman: Performing Global Traditions and Local Intervention” featuring a chapter devoted to Rhodessa’s landmark play, “Big Butt Girls, Hard-Headed Women”. Other publications include A Beginner’s Guide to Community – Based Arts; and Colored Contradictions An Anthology of Contemporary African – American Plays
Erin Nicole Washington
About the Director
Off-Broadway credits: Damages Tangle (Theatre for The New City), Make It Play (Playwrights Horizon), Los Angeles: May in Fool for Love, Beyond Therapy, Conservatory: Hedda Gabler, Gut Girls, Much Ado About Nothing, Rock 'N Roll, Peer Gynt, and Sarafina! (AGC/NAACP Theatre Award for "Best Ensemble"). Currently, Erin teaches acting to children K-5 with her alma mater, Amazing Grace Conservatory. She is also in the middle of a campaign to study Theatre & Performance abroad in Bali, Indonesia with her mentor. Many thanks to the village, you know who you are. Ase'