By M.G. Perez, senior reporter
New Match Collective is the only theater company in San Diego to exclusively employ womxn and gender queer performers. According to its mission statement, the collective exists to start a flame in the hearts of creatives and bring “Voice to the voiceless. Hear the unheard. See the unseen.” Fête Noire is a festival celebrating Black History Month and artists across the African diaspora. The weeklong event includes staged readings, panel discussions, a free children’s “Play All Day” segment, a coffeehouse “Sip and Say” open mic, and two main stage plays. “Nobody’s telling these stories, these injustices; these memories are fleeting and falling away, and no one is talking about them, but we can,” says Alyssa Salter, New Match Collective CEO and artistic director. She points out that right now, “it’s a common feeling among humanity [of] not feeling noticed, that you don’t matter. We want to provide a place where people matter.”
Monday, Feb. 17, 2020 from 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m./noon-4 p.m.
Play All Day: Children and youth segment. Readings and theater activities related to each of the following children’s books: “Sulwe” by Lupita Nyong’o, “Hair Love” by Matthew A. Cherry, and “Always Fly Away” by Milena Phillips with Deborah Dorn.
Play All Day: Staged readings and panels. “Beethoven and Misfortune Cookies,” by Joni Ravenna, is the true story of Kabin Thomas, a much-loved African American university music professor who is abruptly fired after a white student complains about his frequent use of profanity in the classroom and the inclusion of an image of a lynching in connection with one of his lessons. Paired with this reading will be a discussion panel on the topic of representation in theater.
“In the End,” by Sharai Bohannon, follows Emmy and Bridget, who continually cross paths during the worst of times. Both are on separate missions in a city where violence runs rampant. Emmy deviates from her usual routine of comforting dying people to spend more time among the humans and to try to inspire them to get from their pre-determined course. Meanwhile, Bridget races against the clock to find her missing sister in hopes that she can still be brought home alive. Paired with the reading will be a discussion panel on the topic of African American haircare.
Location: Theatre Arts School of San Diego, 2650 Truxtun Road #203, San Diego, CA 92106
Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, at 8 p.m.: Sip and Say. Enjoy an evening of coffeehouse open-mic-meets-cabaret-style performances, highlighting black artists and local performers. Location: 4855 Seminole Drive, San Diego, CA 92115
Friday, Feb. 21-Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020: Main stage presentation is a dual show of “Undertow” and “A Black Woman Speaks,” directed by Carla BaNu De Jesus.
Set in Harlem, “Undertow” is centered around a black working-class family in 1929. Dan, husband to Hattie and father to Charley, reunites with a former girlfriend, Clem. Clem’s presence disrupts the cyclic routine of the family and forces them to take a clear look at the life that they have created for themselves; they are “Undertow.” Dan, Hattie, and Clem have to decide if they will break the cycle or fight for their lifestyle. In this whirlwind, one-act play, Eulalie Spence comments on colorism and complacency within the black community.
“A Black Woman Speaks” is an edge-snatching poetic manifesto by Beah Richards calling women to unite against white supremacy. “Undertow”/“A Black Woman Speaks” plays on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at noon.
Festival passes, which gain you entry to all Fête Noire events, cost $45 ($65 value, $20 in savings). Individual event prices are as follows: Play All Day $25, Sip and Say $15, “Undertow”/“A Black Woman Speaks” $25. Festival pass and individual event tickets can be purchased by visiting tinyurl.com/fetenoire