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In Sight and Sound

In Sight and Sound: Live De(a)f Poetry In Sight and Sound: Live De(a)f Poetry is the brain child of Michelle Banks and Richard Graham. Richard and Michelle originally met a little over a year ago via an interracial dating website, after which they fell in love with each other. Prior to meeting Michelle, Richard did not know American Sign Language or anything about the deaf community. Michelle has helped Richard work through the language barrier and learn ASL so that their relationship could continue to grow. One Day during a conversation Michelle spoke of doing a live poetry show and Richard who had always wanted to perform some of his own poetry, suggested, “Why don’t we do our own show combing hearing and deaf artists together for a performance.” Michelle agreed that it was a great idea but what would they call it? Michelle said that she was going to call her show “Live Deaf Poetry”. Richard wasn’t sure of a name at the time. Then a couple weeks later while sharing a bottle of wine, Richard thought we need a title that describes the show being both deaf and hearing friendly. It was then that the title “In Sight and Sound” came to life but they still needed something different. Michelle recommended changing the spelling of deaf but not to just simply “Def” that had been used before. Then Michelle showed Richard the spelling “De(a)f” which could be used to show different elements of the show. 1st being that half of the artists of be deaf, 2nd that the all of the artists would most certainly be DEF and give great performances. Michelle then invited Richard to join the MIANBA Productions team as executive producer of the show. He accepted the offer and made the show his dream and embraced the company motto of “Creatively bringing together Deaf and hearing worlds through entertainment and visual media.” Michelle decided that she did not want the show to stop at just poetry but to incorporate dance and music to make it an event and not just another open mic show. Together Michelle and Richard discussed the pros and cons of having performers of modern dance and musicians performing. They decided that both could be and would be performed during the show. Next came choosing a venue, now living in the Washington, DC metro area provided plenty of venue’s but one stood out, Busboys and Poets at 5331Baltimore Ave, Hyattsville, MD. Then deciding on a date, seeing that Busboys and Poets doesn’t usually lease out the space on Friday and Saturday, the need to look at another day was needed, Richard suggested Sunday, November 11, 2012 Veterans Day from 8:00PM to 10:00PM, not only because he is a veteran but many people would have the Monday afterward off and it would not hinder someone’s decision to see the show because they would need to wake up early to go to work. MIANBA Productions has also decided to keep in the tradition of Veterans Day and veterans, active duty and reserve military uniformed personnel receive half off admission due to their service for our country.

Meet the producers First up is Michelle A. Banks, a native of Washington, DC, is an award winning actress, writer, director, producer, choreographer, motivational speaker, and teacher.  She has TV/movie appearances in SOUL FOOD, GIRLFRIENDS, STRONG MEDICINE, SEE WHAT I’M SAYING, and COMPENSATION.  Michelle credits Jadolphus CW Fraser, an independent filmmaker, for introducing her to filmmaking and co-directing his feature debut, ALWAYS CHASING LOVE. Michelle was chosen as one of 13 actors for NYC’s 2008 ABC Diversity Talent Showcase.  She has appeared in plays such as BIG RIVER, FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF, and her one-woman show, REFLECTIONS OF A BLACK DEAF WOMAN. Her other achievements include: Artistic Director of Onyx Theatre Company, sign master for Broadway plays, Arena Stage, and Centerstage, director for stage plays such as GUYS and DOLLS, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, and Z: A CHRISTMAS STORY. Currently, she is a Company Manager for QUEST: Arts for Everyone, and is working on several projects through her production company, MIANBA LLC. Next up is Richard D. Graham Jr., Executive Producer, originally from the small town of Morrisdale, Pennsylvania. Richard has been writing since his adolescent youth, yet has never performed his poetry before a live audience. Richard is also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. and the Persian Gulf War as well as what many would call a hard core biker all of which are motivations in his writing. He is also a published author in Vertikal Magazine with articles on the biker lifestyle. Richard is also working on a solo live theatrical project of his own to be produced early next year which he will perform and an independent film with Michelle about their life together. What is In Sight and Sound: Live De(a)f Poetry In Sight and Sound: Live De(a)f Poetry to bridge the gap between hearing and deaf communities as well as ethnic, political and life styles breaking down boundaries by bringing a unique and diverse group of artists together to perform their poetry in American Sign Language and spoken word with interpreters to translate their performances for both the deaf and hearing communities. The show also includes live modern dance performances accompanied by music provided by DJ with performances by one of DC Metro’s own hip hop rising stars and guest hosts from hearing and deaf communities.

The Artists The artists of In Sight and Sound: Live De(a)f Poetry are (in alphabetical order) a mixture from the deaf and hearing communities, from different backgrounds and beliefs, performing pieces both original and some they have made their own. Whether about lifestyle, political views, their beliefs and social climate, they are all works of art which no one can deny. Ameena Dayo Saleema Patterson comes from a rather large family (5 sisters and 2 brothers).  She was born in Durham, NC and raised in Brockport, NY.  She has always been around dance and the arts in general because of her mother’s insistence and her father’s career, he is a master African drummer & currently a professor at  State University of New York at Brockport.  Some of Ameena’s formal dance training includes training at a summer dance intensive program through Duke University as well as enrollment at Garth Fagan’s Dance school. Garth Fagan Dance incorporates elements of modern dance, ballet & Afro-caribbean. Ameena looks forward to exploring all facets of dance such as Latin, Ballroom, Hip Hop, belly dancing as well as honing her skills in African dance & modern. DJ Supalee, born Leyland K Lyken in Brooklyn, NY, he lost his hearing at the age of 9 when he almost drowned in a swimming pool. By the time they revived him, he was deaf. At the age of 16 he was taught the basics of DJing by his father Leyland Lyken Sr (aka Funky Lee). From there he honed his DJ skills from home along with Travel Fox Crew until he went away to college. At NTID he evolved into the deaf community and started djing for Ebony Club, house parties and other college events leading up to Brickfest and Sailors Ball. When Supalee graduated he hosted his first major event called SUPAFEST which exposed his djing skills to the world and he hasn’t stopped ever since. DJ Supalee is now one of the biggest deaf nightlife promoter and Disc Jockeys in the USA. He uses his mixing skills, connections to bring people together and showcase events which bring in artists from all over the world. D.WAYZ is an artist from the D.C./PG County Maryland area born David Richmond, he has performed with hip hop artists 3-6 Mafia, Yukmouth, Gonzoe, Shorty-B, Dungon Family, Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Nipsey Hussle, Bobby Valintino, Backyard Yard Band, E.U, Lil Benny, Junkyard Band,ECT. He has worked with Yukmouth, Shorty-B, Gonzoe, Hussein Fatal from 2Pac’s Outlawz and many many more. Wayz also has 2 albums out and 5 mix tapes. Wayz is one of the city’s best hip hop artists ever and is currently working on his 3rd album and his 6th and 7th mix compilations. Wayz has also had 2 movie roles and has been distributing his CD’s in the DC metro area for the past 8 years. Dyone Massey Mitchell a.k.a. Dee Poetic Mistress is a spoken word artist and the published author of a book of poetry entitled “Love Pain Passion and Poetry.”  Every last Friday of the month you can find her at Annie’s Art Gallery in Camp Springs, Maryland, where she hosts and performs her poetry.  Line Dancing and Hand Dancing are among her passions and she has been a member of the energetic dance team The FreeStyle Dancers for the past 11 years.  Acting has become one of her newfound passions and, as a result, has landed her roles in stage plays such as “The Devil Don’t Live Here Anymore, In the Name of Love, Love is Revolutionary, Lost and Found and most recently she was cast in the Maryland production of the musical stage play The Color Purple.  Earlier this year Dyone performed her One Woman Show to a sold out crowd at Harmony Hall in Ft. Washington, Maryland, where she portrayed five different characters that she created.  Eric “E-Baby” Smith began his poetry career in July, 2000. Since then, he’s opened for R&B artists Musiq Soul Child, Meshell N’DegeOcello, & Lyfe Jennings to name a few. After joining Jus Wiggin Entertainment in 2002, his 1-Poet Poetical Tour has reached over 200 colleges & universities across the US. He was nominated for the Male Spoken Word Performance Artist of the Year (2011), and Haiku of the Year (2012), by the National Underground Spokenword & Poetry Association (NUSPA). He’s performed on cable network programs, at education conferences, entertainment festivals, and currently hosts an open-mic night at Busboys & Poets Restaurant in Hyattsville, MD. E-Baby has competed in, and won, numerous poetry slams from Virginia to New York; and currently touring the country with his 2 CDs [My Thoughts Are In This Ink  &  INKTOXICATED]. Also, an employee of the Library of Congress, he preaches the importance of Copyright and gives out information on how to properly register your written work into the U.S. Copyright Office. You can find all of his tour dates & purchase his CD’s at www.ebabypoems.com. Ernest C. Willman, is one of the younger artists performing and is proud to say that he hails from the Midwest of United of States—Ohio! I am nineteen years old and the youngest of my family. I have a Deaf family, three siblings. I went to the Ohio School for the Deaf and then transferred to the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, DC on the Kendall Green Campus. I am currently freshman at Gallaudet University and major in American Sign Language (ASL) and minor in Linguistic. Kavon Ward, poetic activist and Harlem native, Kavon is the 2012 Paul Robeson Here I Stand Poet and recently opened for Common at the Lincoln Theater in this capacity.  Kavon is the President of United Speech Nation.  A writer and performer of poetry since she was a teen, Kavon uses her talent to motivate various audiences, particularly children in underserved communities who she encourages to use education as a means of transforming obstacles into opportunities.  On Saturday, March 24,2012, Kavon took the stage with activists such as Joe Madison and Dick Gregory, to perform her piece, “I Am Trayvon Martin,” during the Trayvon Martin – Washington DC Rally for Justice. Kavon currently resides in Washington, DC and holds a BA in Communications and a Masters in Public Administration.  Kriston Pumphrey,  the only deaf child in a family full of performing artists, is from Seattle, WA, and  considers himself to be a Deaf Performing Artist Entrepreneur who strives to use his gift in bringing about changes within the Deaf community. Kriston is most passionate about the use of ASL in translating song lyrics both onstage and for ASL music videos.  His most recent ASL music video was “Scream,” a production that involved the collaboration of emerging deaf artists and San Antonio Deaf Dance Camp’s young participants focusing on anti-bullying. Currently a member of the Invisible Hands International’s deaf performing troupe, the Wild Zappers – Kriston is a dancer, song signer and dance instructor.  In April 2012, he was awarded Performing Artist of the year.  He also serves on the advisory board for EBISU Arts Collective, an advocate and an agent for deaf artists and artisan located in the DC metro area. Mandlenkosi ‘Kosi’ Dunn aka Kosi the Prince, is a 17 year old performance poet, rapper, and tap dancer. He has performed at the Lincoln Theater, the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, and hosts the monthly Youth Open Mic at Busboys and Poets 5th & K St. in Washington, DC.  Kosi is a senior at Bishop McNamara High School where he serves as Student Council President and founder of his high school slam team. He is a 2nd year member of the DC Youth Slam Poetry Team, ranking 5th in the nation at the 2012 Brave New Voices International Poetry Festival. Aside from the arts, Kosi enjoys longboarding, architecture, Lupe Fiasco, and red velvet cupcakes. He plans to pursue urban planning after high school. Nat Plu aka Nathalie Pluviose an aspiring dancer, artist, poetic, performer, and entertainment MC; the multi-talented and charismatic “NatPlu” has become widely recognized by many. Nathalie Pluviose (Plantation, FL) “NatPlu” was born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. NatPlu became deaf at the age of three with meningitis which affected her hearing loss. As the only deaf person in her family her mother, Jilianne Theodore, was firmly committed to education and taught Nathalie to read and write in French and English. Her early education was oral and mainstreamed. She earned her A.A.S. in Foreign Language Teaching Ed in David, FL and a B.A. in American Sign Language at Gallaudet University. She is currently working at Gallaudet University for the Development Office Department as an American Sign Language tutor. ReVonte Bradley aka Ronnie was born and raised in the metropolitan area of Washington, D.C. He fell in love with the performing arts when he was a student at Kendall School at Gallaudet University. He continues to perform throughout his high school years at MSSD (Model Secondary School for the Deaf). After he graduated, he pursued his dream as a professional dancer, a passion originated at MSSD during his high school years. He was fortunate to continue his studies in dancing with a variety of professional performing arts like KanKouran West African Dance Company, The Wild Zappers, Soul In Motion and several other professional dance companies. He had travel nationally and internationally for many years. He is currently teaching African culture expressions, African preservations, and enrichments of African History.  Teraca Florence a novice to performing originally from Atlanta, GA. pursuing a dual degree in history and secondary education. She loves to write, read, and do so many things in life. Her motto: “Dreams Never Die.” Tricia Alleyne, who was born deaf in Barbados, West Indies and moved to USA at age 3, has always had a love to write poetry since she was a little girl and hasn’t stopped writing poetry. She recently published her very first book, called, “Revealing Rollercoaster”.  She’s very proud of being Barbarian-American and a successful single mother of 3 sons, living in Austin, Texas. Wade Green is a professional dancer of 14 years. He was raised in Richmond, Va. and is currently pursuing his college life at Gallaudet University as a dance instructor in the Gallaudet Dance Company. He is also currently collaborating with the Wild Zappers and The Dynamic Duo –  a collaboration with his amazing dance partner, Ameena Paterson.  Wade has studied all forms of dance from many noteworthy studios including the Alvin Aliey Dance Company for two consecutive intensive programs and most recently with the Dance Theater of Harlem. He also participated in various scholarship programs with the Washington School of Ballet and Richmond School of Ballet. Throughout his high school years at MSSD, he has developed an interest in acting. He has won several lead acting awards and as a choreographer in dance he has won best choreography at age 18. Now at age 21, Wade’s goal, as a creative mind and ambitious soul, is to become a well-known choreographer in the deaf community and to excel in his acting. He also enjoys making people laugh and has appeared as a stand-up comedian on area stages. With the support and love of his family and friends, Wade embraces a world of endless possibilities and continues to discover all life has to offer. Zsudayka Nzinga (Day Acoli) is an arts activist.  Originally from Denver, CO she made a niche in the political community on the spoken word poetry scene in the early 2000’s.  She travelled the country performing personal and political works, self-published 3 books of poetry and produced 2 CDs.  In 2004 she left the poetry scene to start creating arts based markets.  She developed the Aurora Black Arts Festival, a vehicle for businesses of color to get exposure attracting vendors from all over the world.  After 5 years of curating the festival and other events, Nzinga stopped to focus on motherhood and her own visual art.  In 2010 she started visual arts and poetry/spoken word/hip hop programming that reached out to gang youth and promoted self-sustainability as well as encourages people to use art and expression to find self-love and actualization.  Her program includes workshops, art classes, poetry classes, workshops and lectures for all ages and arts based special events.  She has been a key note speaker at multiple conferences throughout the country and presented lectures and workshops. Richard admits that he was truly surprised after discovering the talent of the artists who wanted to be involved with the production. Originally the production was to have ten poets which grew to twelve and even more requests from artists who wanted to be in involved, however it just was not possible to expand the performance any further. A Unique Concept for a Show A unique concept for a show, that was the most common response from the artists involved when asked why they chose to do “In Sight and Sound”. Both the novice and veteran performers said that they had not heard of such a production being done in the DC area or any other area before. The combination of deaf and hearing artists performing together is slightly different from the norm. Everyone involved believes that the production will not only be an event but a true experience in live entertainment. The artists also believe that the approach Michelle and Richard were taking has new and refreshing theme. Richard and Michelle, know that their production is not reinventing the wheel, they’re just changing the tires. For anyone interested in helping support “In Sight and Sound: Live De(a)f Poetry” with production costs check their kickstarter site at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1460383050/in-sight-and-sound-live-deaf-poetry or to purchase “In Sight and Sound” t-shirts or silicone bracelets contact Richard or Michelle at insightandsoundpoetry@yahoo.com or on facebook insightandsoundpoetry. Both Richard and Michelle thank you for your support.

Celeste Duckworth