A Black woman and seated figure silhouetted against a sheer wall of plastic sheeting. Another figure is lit on the other side in a pose with a bent arm up.

Poor People's TV Room

Okwui Okpokwasili
Friday, February 10, 2017 at 8PM
Studio 1—Goodman

Choreographer, writer, and performer Okwui Okpokwasili and director Peter Born presented their work, Poor People’s TV Room. Okpokwasili had been to EMPAC previously to perform for choreographers Nora Chipaumire and Ralph Lemon. As choreographer, Okpokwasili’s style transcends genre categories like experimental theater and conceptual choreography. The artist performed with three other women in a multifaceted work using live song, dance, and text amid other media including television, audio recording, light, plastic, cloth, and wood.

Poor People’s TV Room took 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 used live performance to refocus our attention. Acknowledging a history of Nigerian women’s collective action, Okpokwasili wove 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.

Okpokwasili spent a week installing and finalizing Poor People’s TV Room for the New York City premiere of the work. 

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.

Dates + Tickets

Poor People's TV Room
Okwui Okpokwasili
Friday 10
8:00 PM
February 2017
Contemporary Performance


Production Credits

Poor People’s TV Room is produced by MAPP International Productions in association with New York Live Arts, with lead support from New York Live Arts Randjelovic/Stryker Resident Commission Artist program (RCA). The RCA receives major support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Slobodan Randjelovic & Jon Stryker. 

Poor People’s TV Room has been commissioned by the American Dance Institute and the Walker Center for the Arts. Poor People’s TV Room is a project of Creative Capital. It has received funding from The MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The New England Foundation for the Arts National Dance Project, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; and from the National Endowment for the Arts. It is supported by developmental residencies at The Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL; Brooklyn Creative Arts LAB (BRIC) and 92Y in New York; The Rauschenberg Residency (Robert Rauschenberg Foundation) on Captiva Island, FL; and Wesleyan University in Middlebury, CT. An early work-in-progress iteration of Poor People’s TV Room was presented by Lincoln Center in the David Rubinstein Atrium in June 2014.