The West Michigan Women's Studies Council will sponsor a performance by playwright, poet, actor and activist Sarah Jones on Thursday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m. at St. Cecilia Music Society, located in downtown Grand Rapids at 24 Ransom St., NE.
The public is invited. Admission is free.
The council is comprised of representatives from several area colleges and universities, including Hope College, and the address is supported with funding from the Nokomis Foundation. The event is being co-sponsored by the Women's Studies Department at Hope, and Professor Jennifer Young of the Hope English faculty will be part of a follow-up panel discussion after the performance.Jones, described by "The New York Times" as a "spoken-word diva," has performed her show, "Surface Transit," to sold-out audiences at The Kennedy Center and at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, where it was awarded best one-person show.
In "Surface Transit," which premiered in 1998, she impersonates eight eclectic characters ranging from a Jewish grandmother to a recovering hip-hophead. The show was the centerpiece of the first New York Hip-Hop Theatre Festival, and in 2000 won the prize for best one-person show at HBO's Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen. "Entertainment Weekly" described it as an "emotionally charged tour de force."
Jones has said that she grew up with versions of characters from "Surface Transit." The child of an African American father and a mother of Caribbean descent, Jones was born in Baltimore and raised in Washington, Boston and New York. A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, she began performing her spoken-word acts in New York, eventually winning the 1997 Grand Slam Championship at the famed Nuyorican Poets Café.
She caught the media spotlight in 2001 when the Federal Communications Commission levied indecency fines on an Oregon radio station for playing her rap-poem, "Your Revolution." The song, countered Jones and her fans, is meant to be a feminist attack against the misogyny, commercialism, and numbing sexual sameness of rap on the radio.
Jones has performed in such diverse settings as Lincoln Center, The Apollo Theater, and Riker's Island and alongside such luminaries as Paul Simon, Susan Sarandon, and Meryl Streep. "Variety" named her one of the top 10 comedic talents of 2000, "Entertainment Weekly" named her one of the 100 most creative people in entertainment, "Time" magazine called her a "person to watch," and that same year she was "Ms. Magazine's" October "cover girl." Jones has been featured on "Nightline" and "ABC World News," in PBS' award-winning "City Life" series, and in Spike Lee¹s film "Bamboozled." More information about her may be found at sarahjonesonline.com.
Jones' appearance in Grand Rapids is sponsored by the West Michigan Women's Studies Council, a consortium of professionals from six area colleges and universities formed in 2001 to increase awareness of gender issues and to work together to enhance the lives of women in West Michigan. In addition to Hope, the council consists of representatives from Davenport and Grand Valley State universities, and Aquinas, Calvin and Grand Rapids Community colleges.