I AM...Fest

A Celebration of Women of Color in Arts, Activism and Leadership

April 27 – 29 at Goodman Theatre

Three days of innovative events and artistic and educational programming showcase the voices and talents of women of color. The weekend features the "International Ten-Minute Play Showcase," including celebrated Chicago playwrights Nambi E. Kelley and Loy Webb, and culminates with a closing performance of The Interrogation of Sandra Bland—a U.S. premiere featuring 100 women of color performing the transcript of Sandra Bland’s arrest. 

The I AM... Fest is curated by Black Lives, Black Words Co-Founders Reginald Edmund and Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway, in partnership with Goodman Theatre. 

This event has ended. For more information about Black Live, Black Words please visit BlackLivesBlackwords.org.

Saturday, April 27

  • Meet and Greet
    2pm - 3pm

    A chance to meet IAMFest participants and presenters.

  • Film Screening
    The Feeling of Being Watched by Assia Boundaoui
    3pm - 6pm

    In the Arab-American suburban Chicago neighborhood where director Assia Boundaoui grew up, most of her neighbors think they have been under surveillance for over a decade. While investigating their experiences, Boundaoui uncovers FBI documents that prove her hometown was the subject of one of the largest pre-9/11 counterterrorism investigations ever conducted in the U.S.--code-named "Operation Vulgar Betrayal." With unprecedented access, The Feeling of Being Watched weaves the personal and the political as it follows the filmmaker's examination of why her community fell under blanket government surveillance. 

  • Workshop | SOLD OUT
    Marking the Artivist
    3pm - 4:15pm

    Hosted by Red Clay Dance Company, Making the Artivist trains community-minded participants in the practice of “Artivism,” which helps participants discover, develop and use their artistic voice to become a change agent in their community. Through movement and storytelling, participants begin to understand their identity, agency and power within societal frameworks and systems. Red Clay Dance Company lives to awaken “glocal” change through creating, performing and teaching dances of the African Diaspora–change that transforms cultural and socio-economic inequities in the local and global community.

  • Workshop | SOLD OUT
    Surviving the Mic, Brave Space Making
    4:30pm - 6:30pm

    What began as a 10-week workshop series for spoken word artists who identified as black, female and survivors of sexual violence, “Surviving the Mic” evolved into a groundbreaking survivor-led open mic and workshop series, led by Nikki Patin. Brave Space Making highlights the differences between holding safe space and brave space, “Surviving the Mic” community agreements, the impact of the series on the 2018 National Poetry Slam, and a discussion about how to center survivors and their work. Featured in The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, HBO's Def Poetry Jam and on international television and radio, multidisciplinary artist Nikki Patin has been writing, performing and educating for almost 15 years. She has performed at EXPO Chicago, the National Black Theater in Harlem, Brooklyn Museum, Black Artists Retreat, Arie Crown Theater, UIC Pavilion and many other spaces throughout the U.S., New Zealand and Australia. 

  • Reading
    Trouble in the Mind by Alice Childress (US), Facilitated by Lili-Anne Brown
    7pm - 9pm | VIP Reception to Follow

    Broadway, 1957. An integrated theater company gathers to rehearse a new play—the one they hope will be the next big hit on the Great White Way. Against the backdrop of misperceptions and stereotypes within the company, veteran actress Wiletta Mayer grapples with the choice between a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play the lead role in a Broadway show, and the cost of compromising her principles. Trouble in Mind is a groundbreaking backstage story of egos and attitudes, and an insightful look at who we are and who we want to be. American novelist/playwright/actress Alice Childress (1916-1994) described her work as "attempt(ing) to interpret the 'ordinary' because they are not ordinary. Each human is uniquely different. Like snowflakes, the human pattern is never cast twice. We are uncommonly and marvelously intricate in thought and action, our problems are most complex and, too often, silently borne." Childress formed an off-Broadway union for actors, and her paper archive is at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, NY.


Sunday, April 28

RSVP for IAM...Fest

  • Workshop
    Writing Plays for Political Change led by Mojisola Adebayo
    11am - 12noon

    Led by UK-based playwright Mojisola Adebayo, who transcribed Sandra Bland's arrest to create The Interrogation of Sandra Bland which will premiere during the closing of the “I AM…FEST,” her bespoke workshop, inspired by her expertise in Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed, will provide participants with a tangible insight into how best to use their voice and writing talent to create activist-driven artistic work. Adebayo is one of the UK's most prolific activist playwright and will share her experience of the impact that her work has had on her personal life, career and audiences across the world.

  • Film Screening
    Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed
    12:30pm - 2pm

    In 1972, Shirley Chisholm, a brilliant black congresswoman from Brooklyn, became the first woman to boldly bid for the presidency--and demand that the body politic represent all Americans.  Shola Lynch is an award-winning American filmmaker best known for the feature documentary, Free Angela & All Political Prisoners and the Peabody Award winning documentary, Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed

  • Panel Discussion
    Women Leaders of Color
    12:30pm - 2pm

    Some of the most inspiring Black Female Artistic Leaders within the Chicago Art Community gather to share their journey, experiences, challenges and successes. This panel discussion will provide audiences with an insight into leadership as well as, provide tips and advice on how best to reach goals and achieve a sustainable trajectory in the arts industry. 

  • Reading
    So What’s New? by Fatima Dike (South Africa)
    Facilitated by Andrea Dymond
    3 - 6pm | Panel discussion to follow

    So What’s New? is a domestic South African comedy about four township women who work in and outside of the legal system. While revolution brews outside, the women watch soap operas, and their private lives acting as an increasingly powerful counterpoint to the forces of darkness at work beyond their garden wall.

  • Reading
    Chiaroscuro by Jackie Kay (UK), 
    Facilitated by Kemati Porter
    7pm - 9pm | Panel discussion to follow

    ‘If you’re white, you’re alright, if you’re brown stick around, if you’re black stay back’. Beth and Opal are a couple, and Aisha and Yomi are very close friends. Aisha hosts a dinner--and as more wine gets poured, discussions get heated. The definition of “chiaroscuro” is “the treatment of light and shade in a drawing or painting.” Centering on four women of color (mixed race, Asian decent and black), Chiaroscuro explores issues around shadism, loss of the mother tongue and homosexuality within the black community.


Monday, April 29

  • Black Lives Black Words—10 Minute Play Showcase
    7pm in the Owen Theatre

    The "International Ten-Minute Play Showcase," includes celebrated Chicago playwrights Nambi E. Kelley and Loy A. Webb, and culminates with a closing performance of the US premiere of The Interrogation of Sandra Bland— by Mojisola Adebayo, directed by Simelia Hodge-Dallaway—featuring 100 women of color performing the transcript of Sandra Bland’s arrest.

    This is a paid event and requires a separate ticket. Tickets start at $10.

    Reserve a VIP ticket for the 10-Minute Play Showcase with promo code BLBW. VIP tickets are $50 and include reserved seating for the 10-Minute Play Showcase, entrance to the IAM... Fest afterparty with a drink ticket, buffet, opportunity to mingle with BLBW artist and a special gift bag. The afterparty will be held at Bureau Bar, 724 W. Maxwell Street.


    10-Minute Play Showcase Includes:

    Jezelle the Gazelle by Dominique Morrisseau
    Directed by Patrese McClain
    Cast: Emma Samuels

    Yet to Be by Nambi E. Kelley
    Directed by Chika Ike
    Cast: Ms. Guest, Jennifer Glasse

    #SuiteReality by TS Hawkins
    Directed by Nicole Michelle Haskins
    Cast: Qiana McNary, Taylor Raye, Chelsea Turner

    Revolt.Ing by Lisa Langford
    Directed by Sydney Chatman
    Cast: Ann Delaney, Ayanna Bria Bakari

    Principles of Cartography by Winsome Pinnock
    Directed by Veronda Carey
    Cast: Deanna Reed-Foster, Adhana Reid, Simon Gebremedhin

    His Life Matters by Yolanda Mercy
    Directed by Melanie Thompson
    Cast: Marcia Eastmond, Brittani Yawn

    I Am Woman by Loy A. Webb
    Directed by Am'Ber Montgomery
    Cast: Kayla Griffith, Lachrisa, Quenna Lené

    The Interrogation of Sandra Bland by Mojisola Adebayo
    Directed by Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway



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