Black Folks Guide to Black Folks, an one-woman comedic tour de force (SF Chronicle) starring playwright, poet and musician Hanifah Walidah, was heralded to critical acclaim in both the SF Chronicle and East Bay Express in its preview run. In the play Walidah plays an entire neighborhood of characters linked together in a polyrhythmic mesh of loves and life lessons. Black Folks Guide approaches the topic of homophobia in the black community by remaining true to the familiar as it blurs the lines and giggles in the faces of sexuality, health, love, faith, and fear.

More over Anna Deveare Smith - there's a new queen of Solo performance in town – Boston Globe

[ Artist Statement]

First entitled "Straight Black Folks Guide to Gay Black Folks", which was a title that came to me, like most ideas, out of thin air. I knew right off and make no bones about it today that the title is there to simply "bring them in" and it was up to me to leave them talking about it. It took me sometime to actually act on the idea and now here I am trying to give life to characters that create themselves more eachday. You never know the meaning to why something is created and in this case Black Folks Guide’s ultimate meaning may be beyond my understanding right now. All I know is that my overwhelming love for the black community in its entirety is what drives me to do work in developing the sexual, social, economic and overall health of the community.          And alot of these health issues stem from how we express and navigate ourselves within the world from our idea of what sexuality is. Sexuality is not merely who you prefer to sleep with but it is the language of our bodies; and body language is probably the most complex and sincere of languages. It is how we look one another in the eye. What is said when we simply cross our legs or shake a hand? It is the bridge in which our most loving and truthful energy communicates with the world. And the more free and open one is with their sexuality in this context the more free the person; thus the people.

"A mischievous mix media milineum whip, Hanifah speks with passion about black people and the gay community with a passion we associate with Zora Neale Hurston and Amira Baraka” -Ntozake Shange author, poet playwright of "For Colored Girls…”

Gay folks within the black community are not a cut and dry issue or a black and white issue as it's popularized to be within the often conservative world of black homophobia.          The feeling that we (black queer folks) are, on some level, less than black or "bringing down the race" or my favorite "a creation of white folks" is a lazy and loveless way to look at what is essentially black people. I was raised by a black mother, around black people, music, tastes and smells. My story has no more or less tears and laughter than          the <em>statistical</em> black experience. My experience is my own but is shared extensively by a vast number of black peoples. The bottom line mission of my work is to provide a deeper insight and inclusiveness to the full legacy of Black peoples on this earth.

“A comedic tour de force” – San Franscico Chronicle

[ Background ]

The initial October 2002 run of “The Guide” was truly a one-woman operation in that along with researching, writing, and performing, Hanifah Walidah also handled publicity, promotion, marketing, website and flyer design. Through relentless determination and a supportive network of friends and affiliates “Straight Black Folks Guide to Gay Black Folks” became a glowing reality opening  night at the Black Box Theater in downtown Oakland. The production surfaced again with a richer set, costume, lighting design and direction at the Alice Arts Theater in Oakland, CA in April 2003. Since, it has been commissioned by the 4th Annual NYC Hip Hop Theater Festival, Harvard, Stanford, Depaul, The SF international Arts Festival, National Black Arts Festival, and the SF Queer Arts Festival. It has recieved amazing reviews from the SF Chronicle, Boston Globe and SF Guardian to name a few. And has recently been invited to the 2005 National Black Theater Conference and Michigan Womyn's Muisc Festival. Fall 2005 marks the official debut of the piece in NYC for a 3 week initial run at the Producer's Club on Broadway.

“A gap tooth Zora Neale Hurston" – San Franscisco Guardian

[ Synopsis ]

The place is Around-the-way,  USA. The folks who live on this block are family, friends and everydayfaces. There is Dee who runs the neighborhood day care and takes care of all the 9-5 mama's babies as her own son Jubi tries to take care of  her. There's the Cheatam clan who runs the Friday fish fry where you can  always find the men in the family playing a game of spades. There's Top Pop the elder (nobody knows how old exactly), Brother Kwan, a young father  who just joined the Fruit of Islam, Uncle Hump Dump who often speaks of  his ‘main man Pete’ and Cuzin' Puddin’ who is a social          worker and Top Pop's favorite manchild. Just down the block is Lynn who sells incense, books and loves ladies with pretty feet. Across the street is the Church of Love Everlasting with Pastor Ebonise Preeds, whose son Louie is also dealing with his own loves and loss. And lastly there is The Last Stop, at the end of the block, where Ms. Invincible stands on a soap box which reads "Say Yo' Peace" and speaks to the one          who counts the stars. And what do all these folks have to do with artist Hanifah Walidah and her one-woman show "Black Folks Guide to Black Folks"?</font></p>

"Inspiring, Uproarious, impeccable performance” – East Bay Express

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