Directed by Stephanie McKee and developed by dancers Kesha McKey, Kai Knight, Jeremy Guyton, poet Sunni Patterson and drummer Jawara Simon, Gomela takes us on a journey through time and space. Making evident 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, such as spoken word, hip-hop and jazz. 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.
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. It illuminates Place Matters—gentrification and the Right of Return of New Orleanians displaced after Katrina; and Black Lives Matter—the beauty and resilience of black people, past and present.
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 and additional writing by Ausettua Amor Amenkum, A Scribe Called Quess?, Frederick "Hollywood" Delahoussaye bring life to the sights and sounds of Gomela.
Gomela/to return: Movement of Our Mother Tongue is made possible with funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Theater Project, with lead funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Gomela is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by Carver Community Cultural Center in partnership with Carpetbag Theatre, Ignite/Arts Dallas @ SMU Meadows School of the Arts and NPN. For more information: www.npnweb.org. Additional support comes from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation and from individual donors.
Photos by Melisa Cardona