Handful Players has successfully completed our latest Hip-Hop Musical Theater Premiere:
“The Frisco Kid” by Bay Area hip-hop artist, Rahman Jamaal on May 18, 2019 at the African American Art and Culture Complex, San Francisco, CA
“The Frisco Kid” starred the talented students of Rosa Parks Elementary School and told the story of Lonnie “PopTart” Green a.k.a. “The Fillmoe Kid,” a legendary dancer from the Fillmore District’s strutting scene. Steeped in the rich cultural history of the Fillmore, the production celebrated how the performing arts can both inspire youth and strengthen community. “The Frisco Kid” recreated pivotal moments from Lonnie’s childhood, when he embraced dance at the age of 11. A tribute to the Fillmore’s vibrant past, performed by its future, “the Frisco Kid” is a testament to the value of looking back while moving forward
Led by Handful Players’ very talented artistic team, the students worked on this production for four months. “The Frisco Kid” was co-directed by Rahman Jamaal and Ben Baker, costumes by Rene Walker and set design by Joe Colmenares. The show included student hip-hop dance performances choreographed by Brandie Norris.
The audience enthusiastically enjoyed special Opening Acts performances by legendary jazz musician, Dee Spencer, and Handful Players’ talented Theater, Dance, and Hip-Hop Teaching Artists. The afternoon was emceed by local actor and Handful Players’ board member, Peter Fitzsimmons.
Handful Players performing “The Frisco Kid”
Watch Mayor London Breed’s Speech from last year’s production:
Summer just got STEAMier and we’re not talking about the weather! In celebration of National Summer Learning Day on July 12, Handful Players collaborated with Mo’MAGIC Western Addition youth organizations to bring the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) to kids in the community. The action-packed day focused on fun educational activities, including an Eco-Friendly Superhero Puppet-Making Station. Handful Players’ resident puppet artist, Laura Echegaray worked with the kids to create superhero puppets with paper straw launchers, illuminating principles of physics like gravity and air pressure. The event also featured author readings, dance workshops, outdoor activity station and an appearance by San Francisco Public Defender and Mo’MAGIC founder Jeff Adachi. The word on the street is that the kids had a lot of fun and learned some new things before they head back to school.
Kids at the Superhero Puppet Making Station with Laura Echegaray.
Mo’Magic 2018 Summer Starts Now!
Photo Credit: Donald Bowden
Mo’Magic means mo’ learning, mo’ fun, mo’ reading — all summer long! The San Francisco-based non-profit organization held its official Summer Kick-Off Event at Civic Center Plaza on June 20. Kids enjoyed STEAM-based activities, author readings, face painting booths, sports and more. Mo’Magic’s unique programs aim to stave off “summer learning loss”, keeping kids engaged, entertained, inspired and reading! Students receive free books from a curated reading list. Handful Players collaborates with Mo’Magic, developing musical theater and performing arts activities that expand and reflect the themes from the books. Mo’Magic serves a diverse array of San Francisco youth, including kids from Booker T. Washington Community Service Center, Don Fisher Boys & Girls Clubhouse, Buchanan YMCA, Margaret Hayward Rec-Connect, Magic Zone and Up on Top. Hope to see you this summer!
Photo Credit: Donald Bowden
Oregon Shakespeare Festival Comes To The African American Art & Culture Complex
Thursday, November 16th 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Handful Players is thrilled to announce that, in conjunction with the African American Art & Culture Complex, and the African American Shakespeare Company, we will be sponsoring a school tour production by OREGON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL, one of the most prestigious and well-respected theater companies in America! This event is free for Western Addition youth and families and, is the only public community show that Oregon Shakespeare Festival will have in San Francisco.
Their show will include a dramatic (abbreviated) performance of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, a tragic tale full of contrasts of long-standing feuds and young love.
This will be followed by a second performance called Expectations. Using a medley of scenes from modern plays and Shakespeare, the program will provide students with an entertaining insight into the world of expecting the unexpected!
WHEN: Thursday, November 16 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm WHERE: African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton Street, San Francisco WHO: Students 9 years and older, and Western Addition community and families ADMISSION: Free QUESTIONS: Judith Cohen at 415-921-8246 or Ryan Marchand at 415-471-9171
We can’t wait to see you there.
Handful Players rehearsing to go on stage with actors
THURSDAY 10/26 JOIN HANDFUL PLAYERS AT THE
AFRICAN AMERICAN ART & CULTURE COMPLEX OPEN HOUSE
The African American Art & Culture Complex, “The Center”, has been home to countless artists based in the Bay Area and some who have even been simply passing through. It is a space where legends are made and legacy is built. It is a beacon of light and hope, imagination and creativity, birth and freedom.
The night features TWO exhibition opening receptions: THE BLUE PERIOD – The Art of Malik Seneferu and HOMECOMING: Legacy. Legendary. where we tip our hats to “The Center” AND the people who have contributed and dedicated their lives to the arts and culture of African Americans and people of the African diaspora.
ART INCUBATOR: SFBATCO, FELY TCHACO, MICAH MORGAN, PUSH Dance, CHRISTOPHER BURCH, AND LUNA MALBROUX!
Don’t miss this night of ART!
Congratulations to the talented Handful Players artists and alumni playwrights who are being honored at this year’s Theatre Bay Area Awards (TBA) Celebration.
Theatre Bay Area recognizes artistic excellence from the past theater season. Marcus Gardley, who wrote the 2007/2008 Handful Players production, “The Fillmore Five: a jazz musical rhapsody,” is a finalist for his play, “black odyssey”. Lauren Gunderson, who wrote “Science Girl Around the World” for our 2011/2012 season, received two nominations for her play, “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.”
In addition to being dedicated Handful Players theater instructors, Myers Clark and Tristan Cunningham are also gifted actors. They are both being recognized for their starring performances in the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre production of “Home”. Nicole Helfer, who has taught dance at Handful Players, is among the finalists for Outstanding Choreography for her work in “No, No, Nanette” and “Pride and Prejudice – The Musical”.
Two members of the Handful Players family are receiving special honors. Eugenie Chan, whose play, “Rainbow in Your Corner”, highlighted our 2009-’10 season is this year’s recipient of the Rella Lossy Award for her latest work, “Madame Ho”. The Playwright’s Foundation, a generous partner and contributor to our organization over the years, is receiving the prestigious 2017 TBA Legacy Award. Congratulations to Amy Mueller, Artistic Director of the Playwright’s Foundation, who is also a Handful Players board member.
We’ll be cheering everyone on at the TBA Awards Celebration, Monday, October 30, 7 pm at the Herbst Theatre. If you join us, you’ll notice some familiar faces as the masters of ceremony—our very own Tristan Cunningham and Handful Players alumnus/”Appetite for Books” playwright, Jeff Raz.
Congratulations to Handful Players spoken word teacher Tassiana Willis for her “standout” performance in the October 7th premiere of Echoes, a new collaboration between spoken word poetry non-profit Youth Speaks, esteemed classical ensemble Kronos Quartet, and rock duo the Living Earth Show that pointedly talks about the cycles of gentrification and displacement.
KQED said, “Here was a group of poets who came from the communities hit hardest by these forms of systemic inequality, bluntly addressing their struggles to an audience of gentrification’s beneficiaries. And yet, even though Echoes confronted its audience with their place in this cycle, the show got a standing ovation — a hopeful sign that its urgent message was received.”
Handful Players is excited to have Tassiana’s talented voice working with students in the Western Addition (where she grew up)!
Our multitalented musical director Samantha Jackson is currently acting in the Bay Area premiere of Abi Morgan’s play, “Splendour”. Directed by Barbara Damashek, “Splendour” is a compassionate, dispassionate, icily probing glimpse into the minds of four women. The San Francisco Chronicle hailed Sam’s nuanced performance as “smart.” “Splendour” is playing at Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre through July 23.
Handful Players playwright Lauren Gunderson’s provocative new play, “The Fatales,” will premiere at the 40th Anniversary Bay Area Playwrights Festival. The festival, held July 13-23 at San Francisco’s Custom Made Theatre, showcases some of the brightest new voices from the next generation of theater.
Discover the poetry of Virginia Barrett, Handful Players’ resident storyteller and puppeteer in the book Poetry of Resistance (University of Arizona Press), and in the literary journals New Mexico Review and Belle Rêve.
Read Virginia’s recent poems online:
Virginia’s new engaging poems can be seen in these online journals:
When our talented musical director Samantha Jackson isn’t working with kids at Handful Players, she’s bringing down the house as the lead singer of The Gentleman Amateurs. This six-piece band melds the raw energy of rock, the sweetness of soul and the sophistication of jazz, drizzled over a bed of funk. The Gentlemen Amateurs have performed at The Great American Music Hall, Bottom of the Hill and The Starry Plough.