Arts & Events

AROUND & ABOUT THEATER: A Note on Jovelyn Richards & Luisah Teich at la Pena

By Ken Bullock
Friday January 31, 2014 - 03:50:00 PM

Jovelyn Richards, an original kind of solo artist (backed up by her band & chorus), one who makes a new kind of cabaret or vaudeville from the African-american tradition of storytelling, did something unusual by combining forces with Luisah Teich for an encounter between one of Jovelyn's alter egos, Mz. Pat, brothel madam who helps heal the community around her, & Teich's Voudou Queen, modeled after Marie laval, visiting Mz. a moment of tension over discrimination & murder in Cleveland, 'In the House of the Mothers,' staged one night at La Pena last week. 

After the invocation of women of color of past times by Teich, as their portraits glowed above the stage, Mz. Pat took to the boards, half telling us, half talking to herself in melancholy tones about warning a close friend, perhaps lover, a black doctor, of the danger he's in, over the dinner table she now clears while thinking back just a day or so—knowing he's now dead, but killed by another from their own community, The Woman Who Was Backwards, a new character for Jovelyn, of whom more to come ... 

After a comedic—a very funny—turn with a—literally—old character, the 103 Ms. Lucy, Jovelyn was joined onstage by the Voudou Queen, Teich helping to clear the air & pedicting the future for The Backwards Woman & a few audience members, bookending what amounted to a work-in-progress by Jovelyn, which hopefully we'll see more of soon, one in which she sounded a different note in a minor key, both thematically & in her evolving style of performance.