Monday, February 2, 2009

the beginning....

I started writing this play after seeing these two photographs taken in Nigeria (one in the 1970s and one in 1959). One is of a group of Yoruba women on their way to market; they carry large gourds of ingredients on their heads. The second photograph is of a group of Gwari people carrying baskets of firewood against their necks, on their way to market as well. by a quiet sea imagines the journey, imagines who these people might be, then, now, in a future world and the past.

It is The Road, The Runners, The Twins, Third Twin, Stage Manager, Sound Man. Once. And Death. Speaking English, French, Portuguese, Kreyol, Spanish and Yoruba. And where they meet is the place where Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Nigeria come together. A map of return and the future.

--Wura-Natasha Ogunji



Gwendolyn Ferreti Manjarrez, Actor (Stage Manager)
Like the seams of the dresses her mother would make her as a child, Ferreti Manjarrez aims to weave together tales of human experience. In this play, she listened and was moved as she embodied a character of conflict and contradiction: colonizer and colonized. As an ethnographer, she documents the meeting of the global South and Deep South through study of the migration of Latino migrants to the heart of Dixie. She explores the systems that force movement, the upsets of settlement, the struggle of community formation and the racialized, classed, gendered and sexualized nature of marginalization and exploitation.

Natalie Goodnow, Actor (Runner #1)
Goodnow is a theatre artist, educator and cultural activist. She graduated from Southwestern University in 2007 with a Theatre major and Spanish and Feminist minors. She helped to found the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center's Teen Arts Puentes Project, and leads writing and performance workshops at Eastside Memorial Highschool as a teaching artist with Theatre Action Project. Goodnow is currently touring her one-woman play, Muntu, to diverse community settings in Austin, to culminate in a multimedia exhibit, Muntu: Reflections in East Austin, opening at community center Space 12 on April 18.

Surabhi Kukke, Actor (Death)
Kukke is new to Austin and upon auditioning on a whim, has suddenly (and thankfully) found an outlet for her theatrical, performative, hyperbolic self. She is gleefully unemployed at the moment but has been and continues to be committed to building gender equity through anti-violence and social justice programs working with young people.

Natasha Mevs-Korff, Actor (Once)
Mevs-Korff was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She moved to Austin about two years ago. Participating in 'by the quiet sea' is her first theatrical experience. She loves blue skies, beaches, and blueberry scones. She enjoys dancing salsa, listening to bossa nova & is madly in love with Pablo Neruda.

annelize machado, Choreographer, Actor (The Road)
machado is fascinated by what the body discovers through investigation of personal story, daily experience and shared histories. She explores her curiosity through movement and theater. She has worked with Diaspora Flow, Mango Tribe, Pangea World Theater, and Aniccha Arts. New to Austin, she is constantly reminded that there is magic in pursuing one’s dreams! She is crazy about yoga; kalarippayett; bharatanatyam; intense, yet beautifully challenging creative processes; and of course, working with committed artists. She believes in sharing the practice of movement & theater (both preparation and performance) with young people, so that they can be solid in knowing what grounds them in this world. In the form of dance or theater, she makes art to spark dialogue with her audience.

She feels lucky to a part of ‘by a quiet sea’. Wha
t a beautiful journey we are on, and what a fantastic ensemble! With trust and commitment we have discovered each other, we have discovered ourselves. In this play, and echoed throughout our creative process, we are reminded that we are never alone. This work is so important. She is thankful to everyone who has helped to make this production possible. We could not do it without your love and support.

Senalka McDonald, Actor (Runner #2)
McDonald is young artist who received her BFA and BA from The University of Texas at Austin. She chooses to work within a multidimensional framework, attacking the senses of the viewer from many angles. Her chosen mediums range from collage, to video and photography. McDonald concentrates on her own sense of frailty and desire when creating each of her pieces, and hopes to bring those feelings out in the viewer as well. by a quiet sea is her first acting gig for adults.

Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Writer, Actor (Sound Man)
Ogunji is a visual and performance artist. She creates visual narratives with thread, stitching drawings into translucent sheets of paper. In her performances she uses bundles of threads, measured in fathoms, as she explores connections to body, land and power. Ogunji’s work in theater includes an Award-Winning performance in StampLab Theater Group’s production of HUSH (2008, ArtSpark Theater Festival, Austin, TX). by a quiet sea represents her first screenplay.

kt shorb, Director
kt shorb is an award-winning composer, writer, and performer. She is a founding/root member of Stamp Lab: A Performance Group. She is currently obsessed with the Suzuki Actor Training Method and Anne Bogart's Viewpoints. by a quiet sea is her first directing gig. She hopes to continue directing.

Nicole Vlado, Visual Designer and Actor (Twins and Third Twin):
Vlado wanders and daydreams. Rests against walls. Follows the cracks in the sidewalk. Trained as an architect, she explores the body as the primary site of habitation, the relation of the body to itself, its surroundings: the surfaces of architecture, the skin of other bodies, the spaces between them. In her work as visual designer and actor in by a quiet sea, Vlado has begun to explore the site of the performer/performance as a constructed site of habitation, a magical space of many times and places, a series of narratives, of layers, a myriad of maps.

Characters, Countries, Directions

Stage Manager

Curator, collector, conductor, tour guide. Makes sure it all flows. Embodies disjunctive and disturbing ideas: necessity of the colonizer to the colonized, bad things happen for a reason. Makes this story possible. Speaks French.

The Runners


Haiti. Sells masks and other artifacts which she brings from Africa. All she has is this body and her connections to the spirit world, the sea, Africa, SOUND MAN, Brazil. Has nothing and everything, her body, her humanity, and deep love and trust. She is poor and black and a lesbian (knows the power of women and between women). Gives love in the face of hate. Erzulie Danto. Speaks Kreyol.


The Dominican Republic. Sells masks and other artifacts which she brings from Africa. She is a bit insecure, uses her body and charm to sell these objects. Osun, Anaisa, Erzulie Frida. She is deeply connected to RUNNER #1, but moves with some fear, she loves her but could never love her, she fears Africa but is of Africa, she is contradiction, for example, goes to church and visits the botánica. Speaks Spanish.

Twins and Third Twin


Daughters, dolls, surrogates. Possibility, what must be shed in order for beauty to come through. They are the embodiment of Elegua. They are tricksters, true daughters of THE ROAD. They say one thing and do another, they feign hate, but deeply love. They are here to teach us lessons even though the journey may be rough, even tragic. They speak English. May be played by actors or signified by surrogates.


To be born. The confluence, the lagoon, the atoll, the gathering of waters and artifacts between Nigeria, Haiti, Dominican Republic and Brazil. She chooses her destiny and must decide to be born. Speaks English.


Brazil. Song and soundtrack. Genderqueer. Embodies duality, fully lives in the present. Deeply human. Speaks Afro-Brazilian Portuguese.

Sound Man

Nigeria. Looking for all that is lost. Is here to record the sounds of the sea with precision, accuracy. Gathers evidence for recollection, return, repatriation: of home, body, facts, artifacts. Is a bit outside of his own body, very much in his head. Speaks Yoruba and English.

The Road

She is destiny and direction, journey and crossroads. First time with a body. Speaks English.


Never enters the space of the stage, though she tries. Almost friendly. A fabulous dresser, all about hyperbole, changes outfits several times. Self-centered, cONCErned with appearances. Knows the truth, and follows her nature, follows the rules (ie. she cannot take without the consent of destiny). Speaks English.



Nicole Vlado, Visual Designer and Gwendolyn Ferreti who plays Stage Manager

Developing the dance with Choreographer Annelize Machado

Nicole Vlado who plays Twins and Third Twin, trying on a mask

Senalka McDonald who plays Runner #2, in her costume

Surabhi Kukke who plays Death, with Director kt shorb

Nicole Vlado, Visual Designer adjusting Stage Manager's scarf

Natalie Goodnow who plays Runner #1



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