Poor People's TV Room
Choreographer, writer, and performer Okwui Okpokwasili and director Peter Born are at EMPAC to present their new work, Poor People’s TV Room. Okpokwasili has been at EMPAC previously to perform for choreographers Nora Chipaumire and Ralph Lemon. Now returning as choreographer herself, Okpokwasili’s style transcends genre categories like experimental theater and conceptual choreography. The artist performs with three other women in a multifaceted work that features live song, dance, and text amid other media including television, audio recording, light, plastic, cloth, and wood.
Poor People’s TV Room takes inspiration from the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, started by a group of Nigerian women in 2014 to raise awareness about the Boko Haram kidnappings of 300 young Chibok girls. The campaign turned into a global movement after gaining widespread attention through social networking platforms such as Twitter. Since the speed of this online phenomenon ultimately overpowered the voices of the indigenous Nigerian women who started the movement, Okpokwasili uses live performance to refocus our attention. Acknowledging a history of Nigerian women’s collective action, for example, Okpokwasili weaves the Bring Back Our Girls narrative with The Women’s War of 1929, an early anti-colonial revolt organized by women of six Nigerian ethnic groups. By the end, the performance takes unexpected turns to explore Nigerian time, perception, media, violence, and identity.
Okwui Okpokwasili is a Brooklyn-based choreographer, writer, and performer who has shown her work at New York’s Lincoln Center, PS122, Danspace Project, New York Live Arts, and the Walker. She has toured her work internationally at Théâtre de Gennevillers and Theatre Garrone in France, The Zagreb Youth Theater in Croatia, and Arts House in Australia. Peter Born is a Brooklyn-based director, designer, and filmmaker who, in addition to working with Okpokwasili, has worked with clients including Vogue, Bloomingdales, and the Wall Street Journal, and with collaborators ranging from Kanye West to NoStringsUS Puppet Productions.