Detroit Performs


Curated By: Sabrina Nelson

Sabrina Nelson is known in Detroit’s creative community as a spiritual mother; in this episode she curates three emotional performances focused on grief. Morgan Chandler Bouldes shares a spoken word dedicated to her late mother, Nelson puts on a performance art piece entitled, “Molting,” and Scheherazade Washington Parrish's silent performance on what makes a woman safe in today’s society.

AIRED: October 20, 2021 | 0:24:14

- Hello, everybody.

I'm Satori Shakoor.

And welcome to Detroit Performs Live from Marygrove,

where Detroit's talented artists

take the stage, and share insights into their performances.

This episode, curated by interdisciplinary artist,

Sabrina Nelson, will move, touch, and inspire you.

Sabrina takes this opportunity

to bring an exhibition that will connect us

through an emotion we have all felt.

Our feeling, well, we'll feel.

And that is grief.

This episode will take you on a journey

that explores this deep emotion.

First is Morgan Chandler Bouldes.

- But there's a spirit, and there's a soul inside,

that lives, and it's thriving, and it's breathing with you.

- [Satori] Then Sabrina Nelson herself will grace the stage.

- [Sabrina] I wanted to deal with emoting,

because we understand grief.

- [Satori] Followed by the amazing

Scheherazade Washington Parrish.

- [Scheherazade] It is always my intention

that the audience to that particular piece

walk away with exactly what it is,

and then question that.

- Prepare yourself for the words,

the emotion, and the silence.

You're about to witness something special right here

on Detroit Performs Live from Marygrove.

- [Narrator] Funding for Detroit Performs

is provided by

the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation,

the Kresge Foundation,

the A. Paul and Carol C. Schaap Foundation,

the Michigan Council For Arts & Cultural Affairs,

the National Endowment for the Arts,

the DeRoy Testamentary Foundation,

and by contributions to your PBS station

from viewers like you, thank you.

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- I'm so excited to be sitting here with a genius,

and the curator for these three moving artists.

So, welcome Sabrina Nelson.

- Thank you, Satori, my amazing genius sister friend.

- [Satori] In choosing Scheherazade, and choosing Morgan,

how did you bring forth such a beautiful trio?

- I had been watching Morgan for awhile,

and dealing with the loss of her mother,

and going through mourning,

and I lost my father just last year of COVID,

and then thinking about waves of mourning and grief.

And so just picking Morgan, because of that,

Scheherazade has been serving tea for a little bit.

And when I say that, she is an emotion giver of words,

but her expressions, I feel like she's an expressionist.

So picking those two women

to talk about the things that they are emoting,

I was in complete agreement with,

and wanted to give them the space,

and honor them in that way.

- Now let's go to the stage,

and see Morgan Chandler Bouldes perform.

- I so wanted to be sad standing here.

I wanted to be afraid.

I wanted to be nervous,

but this is real love.

This is love.

When I look down at my feet, and I see the many, the plenty,

the godsend who have protected, and surrounded me.

Have you ever felt God's love before?

Have you ever had it hold you at your darkest hour?

Have you ever had it whisper in your ear

that it's gonna be okay?

Have you ever asked for a sign?

Have you ever talked to something

that you didn't even know who you were talking to?

Have you ever been afraid to cry out,

be afraid to be heard,

be afraid to be rescued?

Don't be.

God's love is real.

God's love is strong,

and it's in everyone that surrounds you.

Your sacred circle, your people, your village.

These are those who have been sent to protect you,

as above, so below, they stand rooted with you,

and they are your constellation.

Look up into the heavens,

and see something bigger than yourself.

See a window to worlds unknown,

and know that you are not alone.

Know that you should not be afraid.

Know that it's gonna be okay.

Everybody that lays with me,

I'll never have to say goodbye again.

They will be with me forever.

And that's something that I went through

when I lost my mom.

I was afraid of going through it,

going without her, and it not being forever.

The brain, you forget,

memory fades like the vessel.

This vessel is, it's fading,

but there's a spirit, and there's a soul inside,

that lives, and it's thriving, and it's breathing with you.

It's keeping this alive, but the brain fades.

And then the regret kicks in.

I didn't take enough pictures with her.

I didn't record her voice.

I didn't paint her.

I did nothing.

Historically, our rights of recordkeeping have been taken.

Not anymore.

Not anymore.

This is for us.

This is for me.

This is for we.

Who am I?

I am you.

Who are you?

You are me.

Who are we?

We are.

- Wow, I mean,

I'm still just tingling from the moving performance

that Morgan Chandler Bouldes just gave us.

And welcome, Morgan.

- Thank you.

The honor is mine, honestly.

- How was it for you to honor your mother?

- It took time.

You have to go through the process

of understanding what just happened.

Your complete world shifts, and changes,

and you realize that I can do this.

I can do this,

but I have to talk about it.

- I could see the love,

and you had all of those jars.

And I want to know how they came

to be a part of your performance.

- Yeah, I just had to say thank you.

Looking back at everyone who played a part of that journey,

those who had been there to nurse my mother,

who have nursed me,

who in turn, took her place after she's gone.

It wasn't just my godmother.

It was an entire village of people,

and wanting to just put them on the pedestal.

Give them a moment to think about themselves,

and to reflect, and if I had one thing,

or several things to represent myself, what would it be?

And put it in one of the jars.

- What pushed you to,

to put yourself in such a vulnerable space

in front of everyone, and share?

- I wanted to give voice to my mother.

I've always been telling my side of the story.

I've always been talking about me after she passed.

And it always felt like she was cheated,

not being able to actually project her voice,

and she can still speak with me, and still be on my behalf.

So giving that reference back to her, honoring my mother,

honoring my village, and my people.

- And Sabrina Nelson, who we're gonna see her performance

in a few minutes.

What was it like to work with Sabrina,

and be asked to be part of this?

- She has been such a light, such a light.

And I know that her performance is going to move everyone.

I know it is.

She's got powerful, powerful energy,

and powerful spirit behind her,

and so I'm excited to see.

Well, I'm grateful to be in your light, Sabrina's light,

and all of the artists today that she curated.

Thank you so much for being here.

- Thank you.

- Ladies and gentlemen, Morgan Chandler Bouldes.

And now we're going to the stage,

and we're going to behold Sabrina Nelson.

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We just saw Sabrina Nelson on stage performing Molting.

So, welcome back.

So your piece resonates on so many levels,

but hits you first is the silence.

And why did you choose silence?

- Silence for me,

I wanted to deal with emoting,

because there are language barriers,

but we understand grief.

Grief is common to all of us.

And so I wanted it to be felt,

and I didn't want to use words,

because then that sort of narrates how I'm thinking.

And I want you to have your own story with it,

your own connection, your own empathy with it,

and I think emoting it, you can feel that energy.

- I'd like to know what your connection is

to the black bird.

- A grouping of crows is called a murder of crows.

A grouping of ravens is called an unkindness,

or a conspiracy.

When I think of groups of black beings and brown bodies,

people get nervous,

because they don't understand why they're gathering.

Some people call 'em gangs.

Some people call them dangerous.

We call them family.

And so, when you're afraid of what you don't understand,

lives can be taken.

And I'm talking about in my particular piece

how black beings are murdered,

and their mothers have to bury them.

They no longer are protected in our wombs,

that's the first home.

The second home would be the nest,

and then they fly out of the nest, like George Floyd,

and they live in their own homes like Breonna.

Their mothers has to bury them,

and I wanna talk about what that grief is like.

Because I want us all to honor and value

black and brown beings, like we do other beings,

and we don't.

- [Satori] What message do you want to leave?

- The message that I would leave is for me,

mindfulness is a practice of reminding myself

that this is the only moment that really exists now.

Rumi says, if you live in the past, you are depressed.

If you live in the future, you're anxious.

But if you live in the moment, you're at peace.

Just thinking about loss and grief,

and when it takes over me, and washes over me,

I have to bring myself back to the moment,

and say, you're okay, everything is okay.

- Thank you very much, Sabrina Nelson,

for all your wisdom, and your art, and your expression.

And you're going to the stage to see Scheherazade.

- The definitive list of everything

that will keep you safe as a black woman,

as a black being in America.

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- We're back from a thought-provoking,

stimulating performance by Scheherazade Washington Parrish.

And we're here with Scheherazade, hi, Scheherazade.

- Hi, Satori.

- Oh, as a black woman, as a black being,

your piece startled me back into knowing

that the threat is ever present and random.

Can you speak to how, just speak to that if you don't mind.

- That is how, as a black woman, I navigate by,

that is how I feel black women,

black children, black beings navigate life.

There's always this hope that there is a protection,

or a safety inherent in laws, or policies,

that sound like they are all encompassing,

and then there are events, current events,

that the reality of the life that we live in,

that show you that that's not at all the case.

And it is my intention to highlight that.

Sadly, there are no things that keep us safe.

- So, where do we find safety then?

- I am still in search of this safety,

which is very different than protection,

which is very different than seclusion.

The feeling of no fear,

the feeling of being able to navigate without worry,

without the checklist that we go through

before we leave our house.

That is what I am ever in search of.

- When we talk about not having words, you didn't need them.

I mean, it was in very subtle expression,

but powerful, filled up the whole theater.

What would you want,

an audience that doesn't understand that threat?

- It is always my intention that

the listeners, the audience to that particular piece,

walk away with exactly what it is, and then question that.

Why is there no safety?

It is absolutely for black people.

I see you, I relate to you, this is our story.

I am going to tell our story for us.

It is also for non-black people.

This is our story, what is the responsibility

of the non-black listener to this poem?

I hope they are stirred to some sort of action.

If it's only correcting family at dinner tables,

when families are prone to get into those discussions.

- Scheherazade Washington Parrish.

- Thank you, thank you.

- Thank you for being with us

on Detroit Performs Live from Marygrove.

What these three women have given us today

is their incredible humanity,

their vulnerability, and courage to open up,

and bear their souls with us.

They brought an opportunity for you to release,

to hope, to be alive.

So, go live.

Thank you for joining us.

And make sure to be here next time

on Detroit Performs Live from Marygrove,

where we promise to bring more beautiful performances

right here, see you then.

- [Narrator] Funding for Detroit Performs

is provided by

the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation,

the Kresge Foundation,

the A. Paul and Carol C. Schaap Foundation,

the Michigan Council For Arts & Cultural Affairs,

the National Endowment for the Arts,

the DeRoy Testamentary Foundation,

and by contributions to your PBS station

from viewers like you, thank you.

(bouncy music)


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