Photo credit: ​​Paula Court

Links Hall presents:

Nia Witherspoon’s Priestess of Twerk

Dec. 9th – 10th, 2022

Priestess of Twerk is a new work-in-development from National Theater Project Award-winning theater-maker, vocalist, and composer Nia Witherspoon. A Black feminist temple of pleasure, Priestess of Twerk is inspired by the “bad bitches” of hip hop, the reproductive justice movement, and sacred sex workers that graced ancient Egyptian temples. 

This extraordinary, theatrical collaboration between creatives from New York and Chicago invites audiences into the world of Priestess of Twerk through a ritual concert (December 9th at 8pm) and immersive temple experiences (December 10th at 3pm & 9pm) at Links Hall.

Priestess of Twerk features the work of: DREEEMY (aka Reem Abdou) (Sound designer/Performer), Jenn Freeman (aka Po’Chop) (Performer/Installation Design), Jack Fuller (Music Director/Performer), Justin Hicks (Sound Dramaturg/Witness), Brandi Holt (Costume Designer), Serena Ebony Miller (Performer/ Cello), Caren Celine Morris (Production Stage Manager), Shelley Nicole (Performer), and Anna Martine Whitehead (Dramaturg), and Nia Witherspoon (Creator/Performer).

In preparation for the performances, Links Hall will host Witherspoon and her creative team for an 8-day creative development residency, in partnership with the Ragdale Foundation.

EVENTS

PRIESTESS OF TWERK: An Intergalactic Ritual-Concert

Friday, December 9, 2022, 8 pm

A participatory evening of invocations, conversations, conscious trap, sacred twerk, and spirit-filled song. Experience medicine songs for apocalyptic times, meditate while you twerk, and imagine your fugitivity as we introduce you to the world of Nia Witherspoon’s Priestess of Twerk, which places Black femmes at the center of evolution. This event will include ASL interpretation.

Tickets for this event are on set on a tiered ticketing system, from $10-40.

PRIESTESS OF TWERK: Sunset Temple Experience

Saturday, December 10, 2022, 3-7 pm

The Sunset Temple Experience is for women, non-binary, and womb-carrying folks. Healing and reflective work may include aspects of Birth, Creation, Womb Wellness, and Reproductive Justice. 

Temple Experiences are focalized portals of loving support for Black Femme healing. Each immersive experience focuses on a different aspect of Black Femme experience including birth, creativity, womb health, dreaming, erotic–with ritual, meditation, journaling, cleansing, work with herbs, and ceremony.  Details about each temple experience are forthcoming, including guidelines for each chamber. 

$12 All Tickets, Limited to 10 participants

PRIESTESS OF TWERK: Night Temple Experience

Saturday, December 10, 2022, 9 pm – 1 am

The Night Temple Experience may include dream incubation, a dream circle, collective rest, ecstatic dance, and a traditional steam. Open to Black, Indigenous, and other people of color.

Temple Experiences are focalized portals of loving support for Black Femme healing. Each immersive experience focuses on a different aspect of Black Femme experience including birth, creativity, womb health, dreaming, erotic–with ritual, meditation, journaling, cleansing, work with herbs, and ceremony.  Details about each temple experience are forthcoming, including guidelines for each chamber. 

$12 All Tickets, Limited to 10 participants

ACCESSIBILITY INFORMATION

If you have any access needs or accommodations, please contact Ireashia Bennett at ireashiabennett@gmail.com by December 5, 2022.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Nia O. Witherspoon (Smith BA/Stanford PhD) is a Black queer multidisciplinary artist + healing justice practitioner investigating the metaphysics of black liberation, desire, and diaspora, as they track across the space-time continuum. Combining Black feminism, indigenous epistemologies, eco-feminism, and auto-critogrophy with mediums in writing, performance, sound, and installation, Witherspoon creates expansive portals for communion, witnessing, and healing with Black femmes at the center.. Current and recent works include: Priestess of Twerk: A Black Femme Temple to Pleasure (HERE Art Center/Musical Theatre Factory, 2024), Chronicle X: The Dark Girl Chronicles (The Shed, 2021), and MESSIAH (La Mama, 2019).  She is a NEFA/NTP recipient, a Creative Capital Awardee, a Jerome New Artist Fellow, a current artist in residence at HERE Art Center and Musical Theatre Factory, and former resident at BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, New York Theatre Workshop. Her work has been or will be featured by The Shed, BRIC, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Joe’s Pub, HERE, JACK, La Mama ETC, Playwright’s Realm, Links Hall, National Black Theatre, Brava Theatre, BAAD, Movement Research, BAX, Dixon Place, Painted Bride, 651 Arts, and elsewhere. Her writing is published in the Journal of Popular Culture; Imagined Theatres; Women and Collective Creation; and IMANIMAN: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands.  She has been a professor at Arizona State University, Florida State University, Fordham University, and University of Massachusetts.  Follow her @niasoli on Instagram to stay up to date on all the happenings! www.niawitherspoon.com, www.priestessoftwerk.com

Collaborating Artists

DREEEMY (aka Reem Abdou) (Sound designer/Performer)

Jenn Freeman (aka Po’Chop) (Performer/Installation Design)

Jack Fuller (Music Director/Performer)

Justin Hicks (Sound Dramaturg/Witness)

Brandi Holt (Costume Designer)

Serena Ebony Miller (Performer/ Cello)

Caren Celine Morris (Production Stage Manager)

Shelley Nicole (Performer)Anna Martine Whitehead (Dramaturg)

SUPPORT FOR PRIESTESS OF TWERK

This project is made possible in part by an ArtsForward grant from the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, made possible through support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

Priestess of Twerk is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund project co-commissioned by Links Hall, Brava for Women in the Arts, HERE Arts Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival Association, Phoenix Hostel & Cultural Center, and NPN. For more information www.npnweb.org.

Development of Priestess of Twerk was made possible through the HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP) and a ​​National Theater Project Grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts.