For eight years, the Intersections Festival has been bringing some of DC’s best performance artists to the H Street venue, Atlas Performing Arts Center, and this year’s nine jam-packed days will be no exception. Performances include vocal, choral, opera, visual arts, video, film, writing, sculpture, photography and spoken word. This celebration of the wide diversity of artists in our area opens February 24th and runs through March 5th.
“As it was last year, the tag line for Intersections is ‘Where the Art World and the Real World Intersects’ and that’s in the context of our great artists, where we have art for art sake and great art being performed, but there’s also art that has a message, art that can inform, educate, inspire and entertain,” says Doug E. Yeuell, executive director of the festival. “A lot of the performances will have a post-show discussion about the art itself, which will also create an enhanced experience for the audience members.”
One exciting addition to Intersections 2017 is the inclusion of the culinary arts; several different restaurants, chefs and caterers will come in throughout the festival and take part in a café takeover.
“They will be serving their food in the lobby and hopefully providing a new and different and exciting experience for this coming year,” Yeuell says. “Culinary arts is a very strong art form and it’s growing here in the District, and it’s great to be able to represent some of these great food artists as well.”
Riding on the success of last year’s debut program, the Festival is also sponsoring one event outside the four walls of the Atlas. This year it is producing a staged reading of plays from the Every 28 Hours Play series, which is about the notion that every 28 hours a black person is subject to violence from police.
“The Oregon Play Festival started this whole initiative where playwrights were asked to submit one-minute plays dealing with this basic scene and over the course of the last several years, there are a collection of 90 that have been written,” Yeuell says. “This past fall, we participated in a national initiative where these plays are being read around the country and we had our teens and young adults from the Atlas read a selection of these plays and it was such a powerful performance.”
Theater fans have plenty to get excited about. Considered part of the “Story” segments of the festival, more than a dozen performances are on tap throughout the nine days.
Things kick off with Spitball Theatre’s staging of Normal/Magic on Feb. 24 and 25, two 30-minute plays—Normal Sea and Magic for Beginners—exploring the lives of young queer women, which are disrupted when some peculiar animals suddenly appear where they do not belong.
“That first night, we also have Objects of Hope: The America Project, and although it’s being presented by Contradiction Dance, it truly is more of a story in so many ways,” Yeuell says. “It focuses on so many key issues in American society—homelessness, patriotism, racism, gun violence…it’s a really interesting production.”
Feb. 25 finds In Search Of My Father…Walkin’ Talkin’ Bill Hawkins, a one man show by W. Allen Taylor exploring one man’s life-long spiritual journey to find his absent father, the first black radio disc jockey in Cleveland, Ohio.
Earlier in the day, the New Millennium Howard Players Theatre presents For the Love of Oscar, a comedic treatment of blooming love in the wake of the loss of a beloved spouse.
On March 4, the ANKH Repertory Theatre is doing the play, A Change Gon’ Come, a visionary stage production based on the life of Harriet Tubman.
“It’s about jumping back to the circumstances and choices of Harriet Tubman and other slaves and what they’ve dealt with in their escape for freedom,” Yeuell says. “It’s a production that harkens back to another era and our campaign and struggle for Civil Rights in the slavery movement, and I think that will be a powerful show.”
New York comedian Carla Johnston presents A Titch Pale on both March 4 and 5, a darkly comic look at finding self through a fractured life. The one-woman show stars Jewel Orem.
Even Shakespeare gets in the Intersections mix with a staged reading of Robert Brustein’s tribute to the Bard, The Last Will.
“The festival certainly tries to represent great offerings of theater, dance, music and story movement and sound, and certainly there’s something for the family set.
“A key play would be Callaloo, a children’s play which celebrates the folklore of the Legend of The Golden Coqui, being performed by Sepia Works,” Yeuell says. “There’s puppetry involved, and it’s light and fun.”
Another child-friendly performance is Clown Cabaret’s performance of The Heist. The silent theatrical show is about clown gangsters who conspire to rob a piggy bank, and Yeull says it will be enjoyed by people of all ages.
“Also, the last Sunday of the festival, March 5, we’ll have our youth summit and hosted youth groups which will perform.” In a show titled City at Peace, under the direction of Sandra Holloway, a diverse group of youngsters will probe and reveal their experiences with racism, sexism, conflict, classism, and other systems of oppression that impact their lives.