Who are we?
GIRLCHARLIE (CHARLIE LEVIN)
A multidisciplinary artist whose work has been presented locally, nationally, and internationally, Charlie’s interactive installations, paintings, and performances engage issues of complexity, identity, and perception. Her visual theater company Local Infinities (co-founder, Chicago) created 11 critically-acclaimed original works in 6 years including “Wax & Wayne,” winner of the Unique Theatrical Experience Award at the New York Fringe Festival. Her work has been seen at the Oerel Festival of Site Specific Theater (Netherlands), Kyiv Travnevy (Ukraine), Sight Sonic (UK), and Soundwalk (Long Beach). Since moving to the Bay Area, local presentations include the San Francisco International Arts Festival, “Likeness” at Oakland’s Classic Cars West (curated by Rebecca Kerlin), “Keeping an Eye on Surveillance” curated by Hanna Regev, CODAME’s “5ENSES,” curated by Kiri Rong, “Luminous” commissioned by China Lounge in Pleasanton, and collaborations with interactive technology dance company Kinetech Arts. Her innovative installations of wax paintings on glass use transparency, light, and sensors to reveal multiple images based on the viewer’s actions.
Recently included in the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame, Nzinga is Founding director of Lower Bottom Playaz, Oakland’s Premiere North American African Theater Company and Black Arts Scholar. She was recognized in 2016 as one of the 40 faces that contributed to changing the face of Bay Area Theater (by Theatre Bay Area). She is a talented actress, a powerhouse SpokenWord Artist, a lyricist, a published poet, a playwright, film and stage director, producer, recording artist, film writer, and offers a series of engaging motivational lectures, transformative workshops, and collaborative creative sessions, as a means of creating space for group conversation. Nzinga is a California artist, who in the tradition of the Black Arts Continuum, uses performance as a method of inter-intra group communication. She was the Artistic Director of the original Recovery Theater, and its cult classic Marvin X’s “One Day in the Life,” the longest running African American Theater production in North America. She was the founding Artistic Director of The Sister Thea Bowman Memorial Theater, a 100-seat theater built in 2000, dedicated to the use of live performance as a form of community engagement. wordslanger.com
“I am changed by you and your work, a tiny bit more open, a bit more bold, very encouraged and ever pragmatically optimistic.”
The Zebra Operation is a busking duo that rocks out on the BART train. Breaking down the monotony and tension in the Bart with sweet songs ranging from soothing hip hop ballads to blistering classical pieces. Adley, the guitarist, plays in the style of Stanley Jordan, using the guitar more like a piano. Ibby, the drummer, plays the cajon. Both members have their own bands. Adley leads his band BICICLETAS POR LA PAZ on musical bike tours around the US, Canada and Mexico so far. Ibby plays the drum set with several bands including THE FUNKANAUTS, THE LAGOS ROOTS AFROBEAT ENSEMBLE, and THE FUTURELICS. The philosophy behind the Zebra Operation is to support art, support activism and to cultivate a new culture where music is part of everyone's daily diet. They have performed in many different scenarios and settings, but see the BART as their home. Befriend them on Facebook and get updates on shows, new busking videos and more. ENJOY! Zebra Operation on Facebook
Lower Bottom Playaz
The primary purpose of the Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc is to foster the creation, production, and presentation of quality theater in the tradition of the Black Arts continuum. Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc is dedicated to the excavation, critical examination, and the illumination of the conditions of North American inner cites and the lives of inner city inhabitants though the creation of original works, the production and performance of the highest caliber existing material available to us from the North American African canon, and the works of other artists considered marginalized within the American theater scene and the greater American society in general.
The Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc uses performance as a way to increase social awareness, provide an entry point to community concerns, and to create a more conscious and compassionate public sphere, as well as to inspire, nurture, challenge, educate and empower artists and audiences, and inspire in all of us the willingness to explore new ideas, generate dialogues concerning class, the social order, equity, and diversity.
A coach, writer, and facilitator based in Oakland, California, Shane was the founding co-principal of San Francisco’s June Jordan School for Equity, an innovative national model identified by scholar Linda Darling-Hammond as having “beaten the odds in supporting the success of low-income students of color. For the past ten years, she has provided coaching, facilitation, and professional development for hundreds of leaders in schools, school districts, and educational organizations across the country. Shane holds a bachelor’s degree in History from Brown University, a master’s degree in Education from Stanford University, and an administrative services credential from California State University East Bay. shanesafir.com
is a composer, percussionist, ethnomusicologist, Guggenheim fellow, Smithsonian Associate Scholar, and Artistic Director of the GRAMMY nominated Asian American Orchestra and the nonprofit organization, Fifth Stream Music. He has composed music for critically acclaimed, award-winning film documentaries, theater productions, dance companies and musical ensembles internationally, and has collaborated with Max Roach, Cecil Taylor, Zakir Hussain, Steve Lacy, Anthony Davis and the San Francisco Symphony. Dr. Brown has served as Curator of American Musical Culture and Director of the Jazz Oral History Program at the Smithsonian Institution and as a Visiting Professor of Music at UC Berkeley. fifthstreammusic.org
“I knew I was in the presence of a truly inspiring artist when I experienced Charlie's ‘Single Point Perspective’ at the 2016 SF International Arts Festival. Her visionary conceptual approach to the traditionally solo endeavor of visual artistry transforms the process of individual creation into a totally participatory experience with her audience as well as with her collaborating musician. Her spontaneously painted images on a transparent glass screen are inspired by the passages read aloud by each audience member buoyed by musical accompaniment, and captured the mood, passion, and compassion of the spoken words and the ambience in the chapel. This interactive gestalt involved everyone present in the improvisatory creation of Charlie's work, which is only fully revealed in its surprising, illuminated splendor as the end of the performance. I am thrilled to be collaborating with Charlie on her upcoming ‘The One Truthiness’ project.” — Anthony Brown
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