Ball Culture, Houses, Ballroom Community - these might be new terms to some On the Boards audiences. Underground ball culture is an extremely important component of LGBT subculture, first and foremost for queers of color. It's a super complex system of family, belonging, high fashion, completely new dance forms, and much, much more. Ball culture achieved something almost unacheivable in the USA - a completely new way of existing and support for people who had been highly marginalized by capitalism, racism, and heteronormative culture.
You can get an overview of Ball Culture on Wikipedia here. But there is a plethora of other information online in articles, videos,...
by Imani Sims
Over the years, I’ve asked artists, producers, and directors their stance on art as social responsibility. Not one has put it as plainly as Jerome A. Parker, mastermind behind House of Dinah. On a rainy Seattle Saturday, I sat down to converse with Jerome regarding his take on the project and how it acts as a catalyst for exposing Northwest audiences to marginalized stories.
House of Dinah situates itself on the crux of purpose and pain. Set to the music of Dinah Washington, Jerome paints a world where intergenerational Queens come together in an effort to heal and “pass the torch.” The complicated nature of the younger queens under the training of the elders is highlighted as a way for the audience to observe the way underground traditions and coming of...
HOUSE OF DINAH draws inspiration from the 1990 documentary film Paris is Burning. Wikipedia sums up the film nicely: "Filmed in the mid-to-late 1980s, it chronicles the ball culture of New York City and the African-American, Latino, gay, and transgender ...
Legendary singer Dinah Washington plays a huge role in HOUSE OF DINAH. Born Ruth Lee Jones in 1924, she was am extremely versatile artist, equally at ease singing jazz, blues, R&B, and pop music. Washington gave herself the well-deserved title "Queen of the Blues." She lived an astoundingly full and turbulent life, dying tragically young at age 39.
Learn a bit more about Dinah Washington here and listen to some of her music here.
by Michelle Peñaloza
I just got home from watching Markeith Wiley’s IT’S NOT TOO LATE and my mind is swimming with reactions to the show and to the post-show Q&A—
“Wokeness” especially in light of the recent election results is of a fashion at this point—a moral imperative as performance. Ally theatre. A safety-pin. A t-shirt. A tote-bag. All signals that are meant to convey: I will not laugh at the wrong jokes. I will not say the wrong thing. I will not be that person. I am not a bad person.
What does “wokeness” mean in Seattle? What does being an ally mean in Seattle?
Humor, laughter—these are intimate currencies. Who can laugh, whose laughter can wound, whose laughter holds power, whose laughter creates distance, whose laughter is un/knowable, who laughs through their power/lessness, who laughs for survival, whose laughter understands absurdity, whose laughter is part of the...
by Imana Gunawan
It took a while for me to find the right words to process to Markeith Wiley’s It’s Not Too Late. But watching it, I constantly thought of the poem “It Doesn’t Feel Like A Time to Write” by black poet Danez Smith of St. Paul, Minn. This response is a re-imagining of Smith’s words.
It doesn’t feel like a time to write
because I’m watching a black man do jumping jack shits of emotional labor watched by mostly white people many of whom will probably go home and theorize about “race relations in America”
like it’s something out of a textbook...
A list of music that's been swirling around in Markeith Wiley's brain during the creation of It's Not Too Late:
Section 80 & To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar
Female rap artist Noname's new album Telefone
Blond by: Frank Ocean
A Seat At The Table by: Solange