“Global Taxi Driver”, a new play written and directed by Leilani Chan, and co-presented with TeAda Productions and Intermedia Arts, opens Thursday, Sept. 11, with performances following Sept. 12-14, and Sept. 14, and 18 to 21, 2014, at Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408.
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Ticketsare $12 in advance, student, senior, and $15 at the door.
Inspired by the real life experiences of Somali drivers, Vietnam vets, artists, and more, Global Taxi Driver uncovers a little known slice of the Twin Cities – and a unique view of the world – from behind the wheel of a cab.
Director/Playwright Leilani Chan and TeAda Ensemble members Ova Saopeng and Blake Williams, have teamed up with local artists Pedro Bayon, Ifrah Mansour, Nicole M. Smith, and Gaosong Vang to gather stories of taxi drivers in the Twin Cities. Throughout the world, taxi driving is a gateway profession for immigrants, often taken on by people who were once farmers, soldiers, doctors, or lawyers. With the growth of ride sharing services threatening this occupation, these stories become even more urgent to tell.
Chan is an award winning performance artist, actor, playwright, director, cultural worker, Founding Artistic Director of TeAda Productions.
TeAda Productions exists to enrich the repertoire of contemporary works created and performed by people of color.
Leilani and her partner, Ova Saopeng, are currently traveling the country developing Refugee Nation a multi-disciplinary performance based on the stories of Laotian refugees and their descendants from around the country. This project received a Rockefeller Foundation MAP Fund and a NPN Creation Fund in partnership with OUTNORTH, Highways Performance Space and Legacies of War – and education and advocacy group around the removal of UXOs form Laos (legaciesofwar.org).
Leilani is a Department of Cultural Affairs Artist-in-Residence and has toured natitionally with her solo work “E Nana I ke Kumu.” Her performance installation “Life as a Dashboard Hula Dancer” has been presented as part of Guillermo Gomez-Peña’s La Pocha Nostra at LACMA in 2005 and FITLA 2004.
Ms. Chan has worked with Hawaiian and multi-racial communities to develop community-based performances and has she been presented at Borderlands Theater, Highways Performance Space, JACCC, Grand Performances, the Getty Center Museum, and at many other college campuses and performance venues across the country. Leilani has directed new works by Robert Karimi at Out North in Anchorage, Alaska and Kristina Wong at REDCAT, [INSIDE] the Ford, and at La Peña Cultural Center. Ms. Chan has also worked with numerous arts organizations throughout the country including Center Theatre Group, New WORLD Theater, Great Leap, Highways Performance Space and many others. Leilani obtained her M.F.A. from U.C. Irvine in 2004. Ms. Chan is on the national steering committee for the National Asian American Theater Conference and Festival and for Legacies of War.
Pedro R. Bayon is a St. Paul based Theatre Artist/Educator. He was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and came to the Twin Cities to study at Macalester College. Pedro will be appearing this fall at Park Square Theatre’s production of The House on Mango Street, and he is currently teaching at Stepping Stone Theatre and at the Children’s Theatre Co.
Ifrah Mansour is multi-disciplinary artist who blends improvisational storytelling, poetry, photography, movement, and installations made from recyclable materials. Off-stage, she enjoys teaching elderly East African students, leads craft-circle program and Healspace gatherings, tends community gardens and is in training to be a bike mechanic.
Recent works include Deer Stew at Spinning Stories Bike tour, Things Are You The All at Red Eye Theatre, Somalia map chalk art installation, Shine at CAIR Gala, I remember at Twin Cities World Refugee Day, Westbank Footprints at SPNN, and IM series at Patrick Cabaret and Bedlam theatres. Upcoming shows include Guri.Hogar.
Home is at Pangea World Theatre, Ignition:The Inaugural 360 Fashion show at Bedlam, East-African women Storytellers at Maplewood Community Center, and IM series at multiple venues.
Ova Saopeng is an actor, teaching artist, and associate producer with TeAda Productions. He is an actor and writer known for Refugee Nation a play that focus on the Lao-American community. He is a refugee from Laos and grew up in Hawaii. Ova is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He is proud to be part of Global Taxi Driver.
Nicole M. Smith is an organizer, youth advocate, facilitator, educator, arts administrator, performance, literary, and oratorial artist who holds community at the core of her art. Using Theatre of the Oppressed practices, Nicole delivers low-to-high risk progressive work that builds safe space, trust, deepened sense(s) of self, power, and collective impact.
Her aesthetic has been experienced around the globe- from streets, to conferences, and all thangs in between- she strives to amplify the muted voice of those whose stories are often shadowed.
“I strive to have what i do reach someone, whether it be a single entity, or a full room; whether it be for five minutes, or five lifetimes……” She’d like to thank TeAda Productions, and Intermedia Arts for the opportunity to play in a ensemblized, devised process — “it’s zany, ambitious, and familial — feels phenomenal!”
Gaosong Vang Heu is rejoiced to be making her debut with Intermedia Arts. Favorite credits include The Tiger Among Us with Mu Performing Arts, Eurydice with The University Of Minnesota, and Confessions Of A Lazy Hmong Woman.
She is currently a senior studying Theater Arts at the The University Of Minnesota and is set to graduate Spring of 2015. Not only is Gaosong physically trained in Corpeal Mime and Margolis Method, she has been classically trained in voice for over 10 years and enjoys playing the piano and guitar in her spare time.
When she is not making music or theater, Gaosong adores teaching children how to be story-tellers of their own lives with the Neighborhood Bridges Program through the Children’s Theater Company. Like and friend Gaosong Vang Heu’s acting page on Facebook for exciting news, updates or inquires.
Blake Williams got his start doing community theater in Northern California. After traveling around the world with a performing arts group in 2008, he decided to pursue acting professionally. He’s an award winning spoken word poet, singer/songwriter and actor currently working and living in Hollywood, CA carving out a career in entertainment.
Co-presenter TeAda Productions works to expand the awareness of issues affecting underserved communities through the development and presentation of performances by people of color. TeAda’s cross-disciplinary performances incorporate theater, performance art, and dance.
TeAda embraces a fearless commitment to provide artists a space to explore cultural and political issues most relevant to their communities. TeAda serves as a bridge between the health, education, and social justice issues of these underserved communities.
A “Community Chat and Chew” after the Sunday, Sept. 14 performance includes a panel discussion with Abdi Warsame, Minneapolis City Council, Ward 6, was born in Somalia and grew up in the United Kingdom of Great Britain where he studied and attained a BSc in Business and a Masters Degree in International Business. He moved to Minneapolis in 2006, shortly landing a job in the financial sector.
Mr. Warsame was the founder and spokesperson for the Citizen’s Committee for Fair Redistricting, which took part in the redistricting process that aimed to create a more equitable and representative political map of Minneapolis, with the intent to create better opportunities for all residents of the City. The Citizen’s Committee lobbying was a historic success and today’s current map of the City including Wards 6 and 9 are a testament to their hard work.
After emerging as a strong voice in the community, Warsame was urged by friends and neighbors to run for public office. With their support, Warsame was elected to the Minneapolis City Council in November 2013. In winning the seat, Warsame became the first Somali-American elected to the council and the first in the nation to win a municipal election.
Mr. Warsame was the former Board Chair of the Cedar Riverside-Neighborhood Revitalization Program (CR-NRP) as well as the Executive Director of the Riverside Plaza Tenants Association (RPTA).
As a public servant, Warsame will focus on the city’s most pressing issues: Jobs, Housing, Safety and Community Development.
Abdi Warsame, is a Somali-American and a practicing Muslim. He lives in the Seward neighborhood of South Minneapolis.
“Taxi drivers are ambassadors to our city,” Warsame said. “They are the face that many people see when they visit Minneapolis, yet rarely seen or treated as such. Taxi drivers deserve respect as the professionals they are.”
Fellow panelist Marcela Sotela was born and raised in Costa Rica. She is Policy Aide to CM Abdi Warsame. Ms. Sotela Odor holds a Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Costa Rica and a Master’s in Public Affairs from the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota.
As a qualified mediator and facilitator she has experience in multicultural settings, and teaching such skills to diverse audiences. In Fall 2002, she was an NGO Fellow at the Nonprofit and Public Management Center of the University of Michigan. In 2009-2010, she was a Policy Fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, where she was part of a multidisciplinary group that conducted a project on Health Inequities in Minnesota. She has worked as staff or volunteer with youth from over 20 countries.
She is passionate about multicultural interaction and engaging communities to become agents of change. Marcela enjoys traveling, music and dancing, especially if shared with her husband and 7-year-old daughter. Any free time is spent reading, walking her buddy Primo, and taking pictures.
Global Taxi Driver is a National Performance Network (NPN) Performance Residency Program and Creation Fund Project Co-Commissioned by Intermedia Arts in partnership with TeAda Productions, East West Players and NPN. For more information: www.npn.org.
This presentation is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. This presentation is supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Minnesota State Arts Board and General Mills Foundation. This project is also made possible through a grant from the Network of Ensemble Theater’s Touring & Exchange Network (NET/TEN), supported by lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. GTD has been developed with the support of both the Artistic Innovation and ARC grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation, and California Stories grant from Cal Humanities.