I’m really excited to announce that this year I will be directing at BoxFest Detroit! After taking a few years off to serve primarily as a producer of the festival, this year I am happy that I will be able to do both.

This year I’m working on a one-act called, “Valerie: A Cosplay Monologue”. I’m thrilled to be working with this play that challenges the culture of sexual assault at comic cons through the voice of a single female character. I start rehearsals soon and I’m really looking forward to playing with the comic book style of this play. As an educator, I’m also really passionate about sharing this information on rape culture.

I’m excited to announce that I have been working as the production coordinator on a second Bad & Nasty event. This one is a birthday bash for the 45th President’s birthday. We’re calling it “Patriot Acts: 71 Wishes for 45.” Huffington Post recently did a story on the events happening around the country. Check out the article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/593f11cae4b014ae8c69e345

“The brainchild behind Bad and Nasty, performance artist Holly Hughes, is co-hosting ’71 Wishes For 45.’ Revelers seeking performance art, improv comedy, finger puppetry, blanket forts, and subversive books should head to Bona Sera’s Underground in Ypsyilanti, Michigan to party with Lola Von Miramar (aka Larry LaFontaine Stokes), Annie Zirkel, Margaret Parker, and emcee Patti Smith (the vamp tramp). Donations will go to Count MI Vote, an organization fighting gerrymandering.”

The curators who brought you BAD and NASTY (Not MY President’s Day) Events in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Detroit are coming together and meeting in the middle for the next installment in the BAD and NASTY canon! We invite artists of multiple disciplines and ALL backgrounds and orientations to submit proposals for short (4-5 min) presentational works and/or roving or one-one one performances, at our Flag Day/”Birthday party” for D. Trump (“45”).

The PATRIOT ACTS, or “71 Wishes For 45” performance party will take place during the evening of Thursday, June 15th (the day after Flag Day as well, coincidentally, as Trump’s 71st birthday) at Bona Sera Underground in Ypsilanti. There will be cake and ice cream! Balloon animals! Spankings, and blowing out of 45’s candles!

Consider proposing performances that might in some way offer up your most sincere and/or most raucous wishes for 45!
Submit your proposals including a brief description and any online documentation BY MAY 15th to lightboxperformance@gmail.com.

(Notifications will be received by Memorial Day)

The evening will once again be a benefit — this time for Count My Vote, an organization dedicated to fighting gerrymandering in MI.

We look forward to receiving your submissions!

The 71 Wishes for 45 team,
Heidi Haire
Patti Smith
Holly Hughes
Melanie Manos
Callie McKee
Amanda Ewing
Emilia Javanica
Stefanie Cohen

More information here.

UPDATE: Here is the link for the archived Bad/Nasty event page:  https://badandnasty.com/detroit-bad-nasty-light-box-22017/

I wanted to take a minute to share a project I have been working on. I’m a co-curator and the production manager of an evening of performance and installation this Monday, February 20th, 2017. This performance is in solidarity with BAD AND NASTY’s (aka Bad Hombres and Nasty Women) https://badandnasty.com call for art and action on President’s/Not My President’s Day. Amid an abusive climate of bigotry, sexism, xenophobia, environmental devastation and a long list of injustices, this event calls on each of us to come out of our studios to strengthen our community, engage/rage in dialogue, rupture false rhetoric, disrupt the normalizing, and be heard. Facebook Eventhttps://www.facebook.com/events/259197951180180/?active_tab=about

 Doors open and installation based work begins at 6:00 PM
Performances begin at 7:00 PM
$5-10 donations to benefit ACLU of Michigan
with DELICIOUS meals for purchase by Mama Nezaa of Paradise Natural Foods! https://www.facebook.com/ParadiseNaturalFoods/

We’ve gotten some really awesome press – I can’t wait for you all to see it!

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Light Box is hosting an evening of performance and installation on February 20, 2017, in solidarity with BAD AND NASTY’s (aka Bad Hombres and Nasty Women) https://badandnasty.com/ call for art and action on President’s/Not My President’s Day. We are inviting artists (visual and performance), musicians, writers and provocateurs to submit work and join in an evening of hellfire and brimstone that will lift the roof right off the Box. Amid an abusive climate of bigotry, sexism, xenophobia, environmental devastation and a long list of injustices, we call on you to come out of your studios to strengthen community, engage/rage in dialogue, rupture false rhetoric, disrupt the normalizing and be heard. This process and event takes cues from Viennese Actionists, Arte Chicano, Interventionists, All-wave Feminists, Butoh, Punk, Rap, South Park, Cyber-activists, insert your influences and muses here:__________.

We are interested in voices from ALL communities – mainstream, downstream, upstream, stream-of-consciousness: LGBTQ, POC, Disability, First Nations, Muslim, Self-Identified, White Male okay too.

Interested participants: Send a brief written proposal and/or images describing your intended offering, along with optional links to online time-based documentation to lightboxperformance@gmail.com

PROPOSAL DEADLINE: January 15th
Notifications will be made on January 25th

Information:
• Durational installations and video installations to be shown in basement spaces at Light Box.
• Shorter performative works, 8-10 minutes maximum, and readings in main space from 6 – 9 pm, Feb. 20th.

Venue/Tech:
Light Box, located at 8641 Linwood Street in Detroit, has an accessible main performing space 1500sq.ft total — about 1300sq ft open space with sprung floor; audience or performing risers; about
75-90 chairs; PA system with a couple of mics; two video projectors; only house lighting.

Basement spaces — not ADA accessible include a large room with a former baptismal (now also a shower), a room with a former bank vault and a couple of other spaces.

Curators for this event: Amanda Grace Ewing, Emilia Javanica, Melanie Manos and Stefanie Cohen

About the national/worldwide efforts from badandnasty.com:
BAD AND NASTY (aka Bad Hombres and Nasty Women) is a loose-knit coalition of artists, activists, media makers, theater folk, web geeks, designers, performers, writers, concerned citizens, and [whatever YOU may be that is not in the list above] around the world who are tired of waking up every morning since Election Day 2016 feeling angry/scared/sad and not having anything useful to do with those emotions. We are currently planning a day (and night!) of art and action taking place around the world on FEBRUARY 20, 2017, called NOT MY PRESIDENTS’ DAY. Cool stuff will be happening at a safe and special theatre (or two or three!) near you. Check our map to find out what’s going on in your neck of the woods.

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HAMTRAMCK, Mich. – The inadvertent family—unrelated people who choose to be with each other, often at a bar—has long been a go-to situation for theater and TV; think “The Iceman Cometh” or “Cheers.” Margaret Edwartowski’s play Hamtown Races at Hamtramck’s Planet Ant Theatre is such a tale of family-where-you-find-it and the results are more than satisfying.
One reason is the play’s specificity. Even without its title, the play’s setting is unmistakably Hamtramck, that funky, gritty and diverse little city surrounded by Detroit. In the neighborhood diner where all the onstage action takes place you’ll find proprietor Noor, an immigrant from Lebanon; her thoroughly Americanized college student daughter, Lolia; diner fixtures and bickering buddies Jimmy, who is African American, and Dobry, who is Polish; and finally Matt, young proprietor of the nearby T-shirt shop that caters to the town’s influx of millennials.
These are people who probably wouldn’t have voted for the current president-elect, but that’s not an issue here. Hamtown Races was first performed in 2012 and is back, more or less by popular demand, in a new production.
There is one other character, a late arrival; we’ll get to him…later.
Edwartowski provides several storylines but characters are the engine that drives her play, none more forcefully than the quarrelsome, inseparable duo of Jimmy (Falah Cannon) and Dobry (Stephen Craig Blackwell). Their dialogue is snappy, funny and very informative about Hamtramck and its ethnic divisions. Jimmy relates to profanity as if it’s a component of the air he breathes: oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, the n-word and the mother-word. He uses “dumbass” as a term of endearment.
Cannon musters all of Jimmy’s bluster in the cause of a man with a grudge against the word, railing against the system (he’s fighting to receive disability) and the “A-rabs” and other denizens of Hamtramck (including African Americans).
Blackwell, with a pitch-perfect accent, is Jimmy’s good-natured foil, adversary and occasional co-conspirator. He supposedly works in his brother’s unspecified business, and Jimmy doesn’t work at all, but neither man really has a life outside the café.
Noor (Maya Gangadharan) and daughter Lolia (Shelby Marie Schroeder) persuasively convey the conflict typical of a protective old-country mother and more modern offspring. One source of conflict: the mutual attraction between Lolia and Matt, the T-shirt guy (Andy Alan Reid).
The one subject they skirt is the absence of the husband and father who has stayed behind in Lebanon all these 11 years, but that subject becomes unavoidable when the man (Samer Ajluni) arrives without prior notice, suitcase in hand.
I could give away the plot (I won’t) and it wouldn’t diminish anyone’s enjoyment of Hamtown Races. Persuasively acted, and emphatically directed by Amanda Grace Ewing, it’s a play of flavors, pungent as the varied cuisines of Hamtown itself.

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. – Kahlil Gibran

In many ways, Noor, the strong Arab woman at the center of this story, reminds me of my Sito (Arabic for grandmother), who passed away in August of this year – a week after I signed on to direct Hamtown Races. I think of Noor as a lighthouse – providing guidance, safety, and strength for everyone who encounters her. My Sito was the same way. She was at every concert, performance, holiday, and school ceremony my siblings, cousins, and I ever had. She cheered us on and, as an aspiring singer in her youth, always encouraged me to follow my heart toward the theatre. After Sito’s death, meeting Noor was a gift. This show gave me an opportunity to do something productive with my grief. Hamtown Races became a way to channel my family and my experiences as an Arab-American, a way to honor my grandmother and her legacy. At the heart of this play is a family fighting to stay together, a family fighting to mend their scars, a family fighting for survival. This show came at a perfect time for me.

Before we opened, a woman I looked up to all my life was defeated by racism, hate, frustration, and fear. In the days following the election, Hamtown Races once again provided an outlet for my pain and grief. Theatre-maker Augusto Boal called the theatre a rehearsal for revolution. Each day at rehearsal I felt that I was making a productive piece of the resistance. Inside Margaret’s gorgeous and hilarious words, the cast and I were able to do something hopeful with our anxiety, exasperation, and heartache. We took this examination of Hamtramck, the world in two square miles, and rehearsed mending our wounds, gathering our families, rebelling against the systems of oppression that compel us to criticize each other. This show came at the perfect time for us.

It is my hope that this show might help form a community of theatre-makers and theatergoers who can come together as the ‘massive characters’ needed to begin to effect the positive change needed in our larger story.

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Hamtown Races Show Dates: 
November 23, 25, 26, 29, 30 | December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17 | 8pm
Sunday December 4 at 2pm & Sunday December 11 at 6pm
Tickets – $20.00*
*Price includes a $1 per ticket online processing fee. Tickets are non-refundable.
Planet Ant Theatre  |  2357 Caniff Ave., Hamtramck, MI 48212  |  313-365-4948