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Up You Mighty Race presents ‘The Mojo and The Sayso’


Please note, this production has been cancelled.

“She is not just a playwright she is a mystic” says Producing Artistic Director, Akiba Abaka of Aishah Rahman.

The award winning Up You Mighty Race Company will open its 9th season, a season of violence: Exploring the links towards peace, with the Boston premiere of The Mojo and The Sayso by Aishah Rahman, Brown University associate professor.

Inspired by a true story, Aishah Rahman’s wonderfully crafted fantasy play exists between a prayer and a spell. Three years after the death of his 10-year-old son, who was shot in the back by a white police officer, Acts Benjamin is in search of a talisman to bring his family together. His quest leads him to build a car in the middle of his living room. Awilda, his wife, seeks solace by immersing herself in the church, while Walter his stepson, takes up arms seeking to become a “righteous gunman”. But, first they must find their mojo, truths must be revealed, and a ritual exorcism must occur. The Mojo and The Sayso is a story of a family: vulnerable human beings who sustain pain and love, hatreds, joys, sorrows, and degradation, and finally triumph.

As the season opener, The Mojo and The Sayso asks the question “what comes at the end of mourning?” It is the first of six plays the company plans to stage in its two year season of violence. The season will focus on the often-overlooked aspects of violence, such as mourning, oppression, and broken rites and rituals. Up You Mighty Race will continue its Friday Night Audience Talk Back series by partnering with community organizations such as The National Black College Alliance, Greatest Minds Forum to discuss themes from the play related to youth violence, family and healing, and police brutality and community safety.

Producing Artistic Director Akiba Abaka who was honored with the 2008 IRNE Award for Best Director, for last fall’s critically acclaimed In the Continuum by Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter will direct. “I’ve been living with this play for almost eight years”, says Abaka. “… but I couldn’t have directed this play when I was 22, I was too young…you have to live a little bit of life to play with Rahman, she is very avant garde, she takes the absurd and makes it appropriately normal. She is not just a playwright she is a mystic.”

The Mojo and The Sayso features Dosha Beard, Raidge, Steven Kareem Clark, and Anthony Pitts. The production team is Jarrod Bray, scenic design; MIchael Clark Wonson, lighting design; Jahzara, costumes; Akili Jamal Haynes, composer; Shauday Johnson Jones, production stage manager; and Obehi Janice, assistant director.

Aishah Rahman is a playwright currently interested in prose, who continues to explore race, gender and religion in the Americas through drama as well as non- fiction, fiction, music and documentary film. She is the author of four full length dramas Unfinished Women Cry In No Man’s Land, The Mojo And The Sayso, Only in America, Chiaroscuro and 3 plays with music , Lady Day A Musical Tragedy, The Tale of Madame Zora and Has Anybody Seen Marie Laveau? and 2 collections of one act plays: Transcendental Blues and Mingus Takes (3). Ms. Rahman’ plays are published in Plays by Aishah Rahman and are widely anthologized in several collections including Nine Plays, Moon Marked and Touched by Sun, and Plays by African Americans. Aishah Rahman’s Chewed Water: A Memoir, was published in 2001 by University of New England Press. Rahman’s plays have been performed in New York at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the New York Shakespeare Festival and the Ensemble Theater and in theaters throughout the United States. She served as director of playwriting at the New Federal Theater in New York. Among her numerous fellowships, grants and awards are a special citation from the Rockefeller Foundation of the Arts for dedication to playwriting in the American Theater.

Rahman’s plays are heavily symbolic and suggestive. While fictionalizing the lives of important historical figures, Rahman creates a surreal atmosphere by emphasizing the unexpected and the nonrational, and by exposing the fetishes and subconscious desires of her characters. She has been compared to award-winning playwrights August Wilson and Eugene O’Neill, and she cites Adrienne Kennedy, Amiri Baraka, Sam Shephard, Federico García Lorca, and Bertolt Brecht as her literary influences. Often described as underground classics, Rahman’s work has yet to be accepted in commercial mainstream theater but has unquestionably enjoyed wide circulation, influence, and appeal.

The Mojo and The Sayso will begin previews on Thursday, October 1 and run until October 24th at the Plaza Black Box Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts 539 Tremont Street.

Compiled from the press release courtesy of the Up You Mighty Race Company (website | profile | tag archive).

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