Students from UCSB’s Women of Color Revolutionary Dialogues (WORD) group shared poetry, music, dance and videos in their “love, WORDistas” show at the MultiCultural Center Theater last weekend.
The group, organized by Dr. Grace Chang of the Department of Feminist Studies and her students, served as an alternative to the “Vagina Monologues” by focusing more widely on women and queer people of color.
Now, the “Vagina Monologues” is great, but it’s not for everyone. The same is definitely true here. While each piece offered an interesting perspective on the performers’ lives, it was obvious the show wasn’t created to entertain as much as to give the performers a venue for their self-expression.
However, that does not mean the show was without its entertaining moments. Jessica Lopez Lyman’s spoken word piece, “Forgiveness: A Prayer Poem” was strong and kept the audience’s attention with its clear and relatable message.
Another notable spoken word performance was the collaboration between poet Sina Dailey and singer Eziaku Nwokocha, who alternated between performing a love poem and singing Adele’s “Best for Last.” Nwokocha has apparent talent and a powerful voice. I’ve seen Dailey perform before (full disclosure: we have also performed together), but her poetry still gives me chills every time I hear it.
David Preciado also performed with an effective combination of reading a piece on stage and playing a prerecorded video that culminated into a piece called “Loose Woman.” In the video, Preciado discussed a past relationship and his thoughts on love in a sometimes funny — always adorable — manner. The topics took on a more serious tone when he read. Finally, the recorded Preciado declared that he just wants to be a loose woman, giving the piece its delightful title.
Sara Veronica Hinojos’ piece “Ode to Las 3 en Me” was another successful juxtaposition of written work with technology. Hinojos read a piece about how she relates to three very different characters, while pertinent photographs switched on a large screen. The piece was poignant and funny, and the photographs were stunning. Her performance was definitely a highlight of the show.
“Love your Lonjas!” by Janet Muñiz was a refreshingly upbeat piece. Muñiz sat on the floor of the stage and spoke about her “Lonjas,” or love handles, and how she has come to accept them and herself. The piece was sweet, funny and had an important message — Muñiz delivered it well.
The final spoken word piece of the night, “For No One” by Sophia Armen, was also very engaging. Though the piece could have been slightly more succinct, it was apparent that Armen has a lot to say. Though it goes against the ideas of the entertainment industry, I loved that she said the following: “I am not a performer. I will not perform for you. I exist.”
As with almost any performance, some things could have been better. Some of the video used was somewhat choppy and difficult to understand. I also know memorization is difficult, but reading from a paper, while acceptable, can be a distraction.
The same goes for tracks of backing vocals and music; they usually end up sounding cheesy no matter how beautiful the voice of the person singing over them. A cappella almost always ends up sounding better.
The use of light was very good for the most part but verged on gimmicky during some pieces. I found that the constant changing between red, white and blue lighting during Noor Aljawad’s “Under the Flag” distracted from the power of her words rather than highlighting her points.
Overall, “love, WORDistas” gave these students an opportunity to explore self-expression at length and to ultimately share their discoveries with others.
Though the length was a bit much, the show was thought-provoking and enjoyable. I look forward to seeing what the “WORDistas” continue to create in the future.