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Black History Month to be celebrated with We Gon Be Alright

By Troy Hasselman, February 1 2019—

We Gon Be Alright, a cabaret-style production focusing on the experiences of black women and queer black individuals living under adverse circumstances hits the stage this month as part of Arts Commons’ celebration of Black History Month.

The performance will be hosted by Calgary-born spoken-word poet, photographer and performance artist Mel Vee and will include contributions from six different artists whose stories surround the intersection of their identities and the challenges they face.

The cabaret format of the performance will utilize different storytellers to illustrate the joy and resilience of their experiences as members of groups that have been marginalized within the black community.

“Particularly, the show is centred around queer black folks and women,” Vee says. “We’re usually the pillars of the community but not treasured or acknowledged as such.”

The intersectional approach of the work illustrates the disparate voices that make up the black community and gives a platform to groups whose stories are often overlooked within the broader context of black history.

Vee describes the production as an “anthology surrounding the broad sense of the black experience that will be explored through each individual artist” and “a collection of narratives based around themes surrounding love and loss, their past, present, and future and the intersection of their identities.”

The performance’s title comes from one of contemporary hip-hop’s most regarded artists.  

“The title centres on Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Alright’ and the perennial theme of black resilience and the joy in our experiences,” Vee says, “I thought I’d switch the focus on black masculinity by Kendrick Lamar to queer black womanhood and black womanhood in general.”

The title serves to be central to the themes of the work and looks to contextualize it as part of a long history of persevering through adverse conditions for the communities represented in the work. Vee says the artists involved will be “interpreting the idea of what it means to be alright and what resilience looks like from our perspective and how this resilience is informed by the past and how it will inform the future as well.”

We Gon Be Alright runs from Feb. 22–23 at the Engineered Air Theatre at Arts Commons. It is not a ticketed event and will be free for all to attend. For more information on the event or other performances taking place during Black History Month, visit artscommons.ca

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