Rhodessa Jones and Shavon Norris
Artists Rhodessa Jones and Shavon Norris will be collaborating to create a community experience that won’t be forgotten! Starting with a welcoming ritual led by Shavon, there will be a screening of a documentary about Rhodessa’s The Medea Project. Interspersed with movement prompts and conversations led by Shavon and Rhodessa, community members will be invited to participate and reflect on the moment we’re living in today. Food and drinks will be served, and masks are required.
Rhodessa and Shavon have asked that attendees for Saturday’s Community Conversation bring an object that represents love and remembrance to the event so it can be added to the altar they’re building in the space.
Pew Fellow RHODESSA JONES is Co-Artistic Director of the acclaimed San Francisco performance company Cultural Odyssey. She is an activist /actress, teaching artist, director, writer and social scientist. Ms. Jones is Founder/ Artistic Director of the award winning Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women and HIV Circle, a performance workshop designed to achieve personal and social transformation with incarcerated women and women living with HIV.
In 2015, The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women presented “Birthright?”, in collaboration with Northern California Planned Parenthood at Brava Theater Center San Francisco. In 2018 The Medea Project followed with a presentation of “When Did Your Hands Become a Weapon?” in recognition of the “Me Too” movement and survivors of domestic violence.
Ms. Jones has been named The Frank Rhodes Chair at Cornell University 2018-2021. In 2017 Ms. Jones was awarded the prestigious Montgomery Fellowship at Dartmouth College. Rhodessa presented lectures and led workshops during Dartmouth’s Fall 2017 semester.
In 2016 Rhodessa received a Theatre Bay Area Legacy Award presented to individuals that have made “extraordinary contributions to the Bay Area theatre community.” 2014 she received the Sui Generis Foundation Achievement Award for “one-of-a-kind contributions, which benefit society in unique ways”.
In January 2016 Ms. Jones was adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley teaching a Black Theater Workshop entitled “Performance: An African American Perspective”. Rhodessa received the Theatre Practitioner Award presented by Theater Communications Group in July 2015. The award recognizes “a living individual whose work in the American theatre has evidenced exemplary achievement over time and who has contributed significantly to the development of the larger field”.
Rhodessa’s directorial credits include Blessing the Boats: The Remix, Sekou Sundiata’s acclaimed solo theater work which was presented at The Public Theater, NY City College, and the Apollo Theater. She also directed Lost in Language by the renowned Ntozake Shange, a modern remake of Euripides Lysistrata, produced by the African American Shakespeare Company SF, Eve Ensler’s Any One of Us, and VDAY: Until the Violence Stops Festival, at Lincoln Center, New York.
In 2013, the Office of the Mayor and the San Francisco Arts Commission presented the 2013 Mayor’s Art Award to Rhodessa in recognition of her “lifetime of artistic achievement and enduring commitment to the role of the arts in civic life”.
Rhodessa’s published works include: A Beginner’s Guide to Community – Based Arts, New Village Press; Imagining Medea: Rhodessa Jones and Theater for Incarcerated Women, The University of North Carolina Press; and Colored Contradictions An Anthology of Contemporary African – American Plays (“Big Butt Girls, Hard-Headed Women”), Penguin Group. Rhodessa’s groundbreaking methodology for working with disenfranchised populations most recently was published in “Black Acting Methods: Critical Approaches”, © 2017 – Routledge Press. “Black Acting Methods” seeks to offer alternatives to the Euro-American performance styles that many black actors find themselves working with.
SHAVON NORRIS is an artist, educator, and facilitator. She uses movement along with text and sound and imagery to reveal and highlight the stories living in our bodies. Her work explores our relationship to our identities, our experiences, and to each other. An examination and celebration of what we feel, think, and believe. She received a BA in Biology from Manhattanville College and an MFA in Dance and Choreography from Temple University. Presently she teaches at Temple University and Thomas Jefferson University. As an artist her work has been presented at venues in New York City and Philadelphia. As a performer, she has participated in performances for Silvana Cardell, Leah Stein, Merian Soto, Jumatatu Poe, David Brick and has toured with Pig Iron Theatre Company. As an educator and facilitator, Shavon has worked with Headlong Performance Institute, Pig Iron School, Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Need in Deed, LiveConnections, and Arts and Business Council for Greater Philadelphia. In partnership with these organizations, as well as others, Shavon has offered short and long-term learning to diverse communities on topics of Movement, Intentional Inclusivity, Mindfulness, Wellness, and Healing Centered/Trauma Informed Practices. Shavon’s artistic and educational philosophies are rooted in the desire to offer herself, learners, performers, and audiences, opportunities to deepen the understanding of self and the collective. To explore ways to light us up, lift us up and shift what needs transforming. She loves all of the living and working she gets to do in the world.