Revolution #230, April 24, 2011
On the Occasion of the Publication of BAsics:
A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World
An Evening of Music, Visual Art, Poetry and Readings
April 11, 2011: The day finally arrived. Nearly 400 people came out to an amazing program of visual arts, dance, poetry, music of many different genres—all celebrating revolution and the vision of a new world on the occasion of the publication of a powerful and potentially very popular new book, BAsics—a collection of quotes and short essays from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian.
People came in not knowing exactly what to expect—but wanting something different. As they walked through a visual arts exhibit that was vibrant... defiant... diverse... angry... hopeful... and joyous—there was an air of expectancy...
Then the doors opened, people took their seats.
People experienced an evening of art that went at the themes of revolution and a new world in all kinds of different ways, with the words of Bob Avakian framing the four acts, and weaving in and out of the evening. Singers sent notes into the stratosphere and deep into your body. Powerful dance pieces pulsed with impatient energy. Soaring jazz solos took you way out of—and then sometimes way into—the everyday. A whole range of musicians let you move and feel to the rhythms (and words) of punk, funk, Latin, Indian, and '60s-'70s soul...
Short theatrical pieces and poems movingly evoked the different life experiences of people in this system. Hard truths about the history and present day of this system—along with penetrating questions to the audience—were put into stark imagery and poetic cadences. A collection of very powerful dramatic pieces and readings and speeches illustrated the span of Avakian's work and his connections to the '60s, to prisoners, to revolutionaries all over the world. Video clips of Avakian himself, from the '60s to today, introduced many to this leader and thinker, evoking a wide range of responses.
One person put it well: "I don't like to use the word inspirational, because it's so overused. But there is no other word to describe this."
This was art that would stay with you long past the applause—art that spanned a tremendous amount of expressive diversity, both in form and content. It was indeed a joyous celebration—and at the same time a serious, sometimes humorous, sometimes angry, often visionary and above all revolutionary delving into the theme of the evening that tied together each performance and shared electricity and emotion with the audience.
Afterward the lobby was a place of hugs, grins, high-fives and most of all excited conversation and just plain trying to take in with others what people had just been through. The artistic performances and everyone who took the stage this night, had together, shown not just that another world is possible... but also the outlines of a future where humanity could emancipate itself and flourish. And for an evening—and, potentially, for much longer—a new kind of community was formed.
A woman walked up to one of our reporters and said, "I want to introduce you to my new friends." It turned out she had met these new friends when she was trying to figure out how to get to Harlem Stage. Walking up the street, she noticed many others walking down the block holding the palm cards for the event. And so she went up to this one group of women, they all figured out where to go, then, once inside, sat and shared the evening together.
In the weeks to come, Revolution will be giving you more sights, sounds and reflections from this evening, from different angles. But right now, perhaps the most fitting thing we can leave you with is by echoing the thank you at the end of the program:
THANK YOU to the April 11 Host Committee, including Revolution Books, who made this event possible; to the artists and performers who made it provocative and joyful; to the Harlem Stage staff for all their assistance; to the numerous volunteers whose hard work and creativity brightened our present by making this program happen and provided a vision of the future world that could be; and most of all thank you to Bob Avakian, the author of BAsics, whose words provided the occasion for this night and whose compassion, commitment to humanity, and critical spirit has never wavered in the course of 45 years.
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