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MPAACT was formed in 1990 when a group of student activist at the University of Illinois-Champaign decided to use the performing arts as a medium to connect with and explore African culture as expressed throughout the Diaspora. With perhaps more determination ... more.
Mignon McPherson Nance :: Artists :: MPAACT
Mignon McPherson Nance has directed and developed many new works for MPAACT including Nambi E. Kelley's MiLK and Shepsu Aakhu's "Glow of Reflected Light" "Fascia," "Kiwi Black," "Sost," "Softly Blue"and "Trouble the Water" which won the BTAA for best production.
Blog :: MPAACT
Playwright Shepsu Aakhu interviewed eight members of his extended family about the years they spent living in the Washington Park housing project, which used to stand near Lake Park and 41st.
Best of all, Aakhu understands that good theater isn't social work or group therapy. These kinds of plays can be some of the most exciting nights at the theater, which is the case with "Ghosts of Atwood," the terrific new show from playwright Shepsu Aakhu about the turbulent months he spent boarding at a Wisconsin military school in the late 1970s - the rare black face in a sea of white. There is a locker room mentality that courses through everything these boys say and do, and Aakhu brings it all to life with dialogue that rings true. Shepsu Aakhu Shepsu Aakhu Shepsu Aakhu Shepsu Aakhu An Interview with Shepsu Aakhu on Ten Square Posted September 15 in Afrikan Centered Theatre & Culture, Events, News, Performances, Comments 0
Marie Cisco :: Artists :: MPAACT
Her credits there include working as a Production Assistant for First Words by Aaron Carter, Stage Managing Tad in the 5 th City by Carla Stillwell, and Assistant Stage Managing Ghosts of Atwood by Shepsu Aakhu.
But MPAACT's artistic director-musician Shepsu Aakhu points out, "We're an open secret."
In fact, the secret is so open that Poh'ro remains visible onstage during the Chicago troupe's theater productions at Victory Gardens Studio Theater -- MPAACT's longtime base. Yet the band has no intention of upstaging the actors. "The music is seamlessly integrated into the play -- like a movie score," explains Aakhu. So Aakhu and resident composer-arranger-musician Larry Nance will rotate with band members Aum Mura, Danjuma Gaskin and Georges Blaise throughout the run. Aakhu was among the founders who established the theater in 1991 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a multidisciplinary collective of actors, writers, vocalists and musicians. In 1992, MPAACT settled in Chicago. Its first production, "Continuum" -- a collection of the ensemble's personal stories -- debuted at the Body Politic Theatre. After Body Politic closed and Victory Gardens expanded its own theater in that same space, MPAACT continued to produce original shows in the downstairs studio. "It never occurred to us to separate the writing or the design or the acting from the music," said Aakhu. "We've always wanted to use our talents to the best of our abilities." "Kiwi Black," which received the Theodore Ward Playwriting Prize from Columbia College Chicago, explores the rarely dramatized subject of an African-American father, as Aakhu noted, "who is present -- instead of absent -- for his son." Calling it a metaphor for the unpredictable life, and constant hustle, of being an artist, the playwright described the central story as "a father who has not made adequate preparations for his son's education because of personal life choices. But it also addresses the issue of entitlement: What can children realistically expect from their parents? An emotionally charged play, "Kiwi Black" is ideally suited to MPAACT's overriding philosophy of theater music. "In the end," Aakhu said, "the soundscape is not meant to be heard, but to be felt. (TOP)