Monday, January 2, 2012

The Reincarnation of Rosasharn's Daughter

"It has been nearly eighty years after the “Great Depression” a time which Oklahoma fell into extreme poverty and desolation as the Dust Bowl transformed fertile farmland into a dusty, barren wasteland.  Like many Okies, the Joad Family has long since left for better days in California via Route 66. Most have all but forgotten about Rosasharn’s stillborn daughter, until the day she returns to Oklahoma for a visit." 

In April 2011, I created and performed and original solo performance at Living Arts in Tulsa.  This performance was part of the Low Lives 3Project, an international online performance art festival.  Curated by Jorge Rojas, Low Lives utilizes media to broadcast a series of 55 performances to a global audience.  To learn more about Low Lives, visit: the low lives website.  You can view the recorded performances from 2011 and the previous years.

In my performance, entitled: "The Reincarnation of Rosahsarn's Daughter." I portrayed the fictional character: Rosasharn’s Daughter.* Driving a car caked in red dirt, Roshasharn's daughter emerges from the car as a timeless beauty queen who uses soap and water to wash the car clean.  In the process, she consequently becomes wet and dirty, her white pristine dress becomes stained with red mud.

The concept for this performance piece stems from the conflicts that exist within the cultural identity of the modern Okie.  While our state progresses and thrives economically, we continue to be plagued by high poverty, poor health and lack of education.  We are, in essence, still haunted by the Dust Bowl.  Okies have always had strong ties to the land.  (Our state song boasts: “We know we belong the the Land…and the Land we belong to is Grand!”)  However, sometimes it is questionable if we have learned from our past when it comes to taking care of the land.  Today, our farmland is poisoned with pesticides and stripped of nutrients. The threat of drought and the concern about another dust bowl often surfaces in local conversation. The increased demand for water rights has become a legal and cultural battle. Recent weather patterns including a 100 day heat wave with temperatures that exceeded 100 degrees and record breaking drought have left us to wonder what the future holds for our ability to survive on this land that we call home. 
 *In John Steinbeck’s book, “The Grapes of Wrath,” the young Rose of Sharon Joad (pronounced Rosasharn Joad), gives birth to a stillborn baby.  The baby likely dies due to malnutrition.