The Performing Arts at Hamilton closes the Contemporary Voices and Visions series on Saturday, Feb. 21, with a performance of Cultural Odyssey's "Big Butt Girls, Hard-Headed Women" at 8 p.m. at Wellin Hall in the Schambach Center for Music and the Performing Arts. Written and performed by Rhodessa Jones with musical accompaniment and stage direction by Idris Ackamoor, the Bessie Award-winning "Big Butt Girls, Hard-Headed Women" is a series of monologues based on the lives and times of women Jones encountered when she worked at the San Francisco City Jail. Using theatre, movement and song, Jones tells a powerful story that is both true and larger than life.
In 1989 Rhodessa Jones was invited by the California Arts Council to become an artist-in-residence at the San Francisco City Jail. Through her observations and experiences she created the award winning performance, "Big Butt Girls, Hard-Headed Women," in collaboration with her partner Idris Ackamoor. During the work's creation, Jones and jail officials were made aware of issues that were specific to female inmates, such as guilt, depression, and self-loathing which arose in response to feelings of failure in the face of community. These issues directly contribute to recidivism among female offenders. Coming on the heels of this performance, Jones founded The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women that has become a model for transforming and rehabilitating female inmates utilizing the performing arts.
Cultural Odyssey, a San Francisco performance company, was founded by Idris Ackamoor, executive director, in 1979, and joined by Rhodessa Jones, co-artistic director, in 1983. Together they have developed more than a dozen original productions that demonstrate their vision of "arts as social activism." Since its inception, Cultural Odyssey has been committed to the creation of original work by artists of all cultures. Ackamoor and Jones have undertaken a series of innovative collaborations with nationally renowned artists such as dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones, the late artist Keith Haring, jazz percussionist Don Moye of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and pianist Cicil Taylor.
They have performed at such prestigious venues as La Mama Theater and the Public Theater in New York City, Yale Repertory Theater, Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, Center Stage Theater in Baltimore, National Black Theater Festival, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and many other locations.
This performance has been made possible by the generosity of Dan W. Dietrich, Hamilton Class of 1964. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $5 for students. All seating is general admission and group rates are available. The performance contains adult language and content. For more information, call the performing arts box office at 859-4331 and leave a message.