The Black Feminist Guide to the Female Body
by The Vortex

Apr. 12 - May. 04

The VORTEX and Fusebox Present

The Black Feminist Guide to the Human Body

World Premiere Choreopoem by Lisa B. Thompson

April 12-May 4, 2024

 (photo by Errich Petersen)In April 2024, The VORTEX will proudly present the commissioned world premiere of The Black Feminist Guide to the Human Body, a new choreopoem by award-winning playwright and Black cultural studies scholar Lisa B. Thompson. The show premieres 25 years after the debut of her classic comedy Single Black Female and is dedicated to Thompson’s mentor and friend, the legendary theater director Shirley Jo Finney.

The Black Feminist Guide to the Human Body is my theatrical love letter to Black women and girls,” Thompson explains. “The piece calls for radical self-acceptance and self compassion and celebrates peace, nurturing, rest, care, freedom, joy, and love. It’s about embracing the ‘soft life’ for Black women, whose labor and dedication has sustained people, communities, and institutions.”

Feature by Ramona Harper in American Theatre magazine, March 18, 2024

Conceived during Thompson’s 2021 MacDowell artist residency and developed during her 2023-24 Texas Performing Arts and Fusebox artist residency, The Black Feminist Guide to the Human Body meditates on Black women’s experiences from the perspectives of mind, body, and spirit. What makes the piece unique is its focus on middle-aged and older Black women, an often invisible and neglected group, especially by the medical establishment. Thompson also celebrates Black feminist pioneers and icons whose contributions to the arts, culture, politics, and academia transformed the world. The piece culminates in an audience dance party and an invitation for Black women to share their own contributions to Black feminist wisdom.

Lisa B. Thompson’s compelling, poetic storytelling incorporates movement, music, and multimedia design. The new piece features original songs co-written with composers Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., and Vince Anthony. Her long-time collaborator, award-winning director Rudy Ramirez, returns to Austin to direct. Groundbreaking dancer, actor, and choreographer Sadé M. Jones serves as both movement director and performer. Critically acclaimed actors Nadine Mozon and Hayley Armstrong complete the professional performance ensemble.

The VORTEX’s location in Six Square, Austin’s Black Cultural District, will be integral to the community engagement goals of this play. Since 1994, The VORTEX has served as a cultural hub for economic activity, tourism, and revitalization of the district. For The Black Feminist Guide to the Human Body, The VORTEX will renew the successful outreach strategy deployed for Annie Jump and the Library of Heaven that included collaboration with Six Square and Capital Metro in the creation of an adventure bus tour of this historic district followed by dinner and a show at The VORTEX. Six Square’s outreach will support The VORTEX’s professional artistic and administrative team in effectively reaching Black women, an audience segment that this play specifically honors and celebrates.

 

(photo by Errich Petersen)

 

In co-commissioning Thompson’s play, which was shortlisted for a 2022 Creative Capital award, The VORTEX has joined with the National Performance Network, Fusebox Festival, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre (San Francisco, California), and Pyramid Theatre (Des Moines, Iowa). Through this rolling world premiere, the play will reach national audiences. The VORTEX’s Core Membership in the National New Play Network will also aid in elevating awareness of this vital world premiere event.

“The VORTEX is thrilled to produce this world premiere of The Black Feminist Guide to the Human Body with Fusebox,” says Bonnie Cullum, Producing Artistic Director at The VORTEX. “It has been a delight to experience the creation of this work over the past few years, and we look forward to sharing it with audiences and then seeing it in new productions in San Francisco, Des Moines, and beyond.”

With the talents of a seasoned artistic team and themes that progress the Black Lives Matter movement, The Black Feminist Guide to the Human Body is poised to be a bold, influential work of theatre.

About Lisa B. Thompson

R: Lisa B. Thompson (photo by Errich Petersen)Lisa B. Thompson crafts satirical comedies, poignant dramas, and insightful criticism that explode stereotypes about Black life in the U.S., particularly the experiences of the Black middle class. Her publications include Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class, Single Black Female, and Underground, Monroe and The Mamalogues: Three Plays, as well as articles in Theatre Journal, Journal of American Drama, Theatre Survey, NPR, Criterion Collection, Clutch, The Huffington Post, and The Washington Post. Thompson’s plays have been produced Off-Broadway, throughout the U.S., and internationally by Crossroads Theatre, Theatre Rhinoceros, The VORTEX, The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Soul Rep Theatre Company, Austin Playhouse, Ensemble Theatre, Chiswick Playhouse, and The National Black Theatre Festival, among others. Her work has been recognized with an Austin Critics’ Table David Mark Cohen New Play Award, a Broadway World Regional Awards Best Writing of an Original Work, an LA Weekly Theatre Award nomination for Best Comedy, and an Irma P. Hall Black Theatre Best Play Award.

Thompson is an award-winning artist/scholar whose creative and scholarly work has received support from several institutions including the American Council of Learned Societies, MacDowell, Hedgebrook, Millay Arts, National Performance Network, Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, Clayman Institute for Gender Research, The Fusebox International Festival, Texas Performing Arts, and the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute at the Hutchins Center. She co-hosts and co-produces Black Austin Matters, a podcast and radio segment on KUT, Austin’s NPR station.

Lisa B. Thompson is currently the Bobby and Sherri Patton Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies; affiliate faculty in English, Theatre and Dance, Women’s and Gender Studies; and serves as the College of Liberal Arts’ Advisor to the Dean for Faculty Mentoring and Support at the University of Texas at Austin.

About The VORTEX
Mission: We conjure urgent, unashamed art to create action in a shifting age. We embrace diverse communities, break down barriers, and elevate inclusive discourse from our home in Austin, Texas. We enliven humanity with a magical green new theatre at our Butterfly Bar and sanctuary. vortexrep.org


The Black Feminist Guide to the Female Body
by Lisa B. Thompson
The Vortex

April 12 - May 04, 2024
The Vortex
2307 Manor Road
Austin, TX, 78722

April 12-May 4, 2024
ASL interpretation April 20
The VORTEX: 2307 Manor Rd., Austin, TX 78722

Box Office: 512.478.52.82 / alex@vortexrep.org

The VORTEX Presents
An ASL-interpreted and Audio-described Performance of
The Black Feminist Guide to the Human Body
World Premiere Choreopoem by Lisa B. Thompson
Saturday April 20, 2024, 8:00 p.m.

Free to deaf/hard-of-hearing and visually impaired individuals.

Limited seating. Please contact The VORTEX Box Office to hold your seats. Alex@vortexrep.org or 512-478-5282.