€Intersections: A New America Arts Festival€ at the Atlas Performing Arts Center

Larry Saxton | 2/17/2010, 3:26 p.m.

The Atlas Performing Arts Center in Northwest presents Intersections: A New American Arts Festival, a cornucopia of artistic creativity that promises to energize even the most winter-weary among us through music, theater, visual arts, film, poetry and dance.

The multi-disciplinary celebration of the arts which opens Fri., Feb. 19, will showcase events in six different venues each weekend through Sun., March 7.

The festival includes a world premiere by Washington hip-hop artist Christyles Bacon; performances of Scott Joplin€s opera €Treemonisha€ by the Washington Savoyards; a documentary exploration of identity through drumming by Nigerian-American filmmaker, Ekene Okobi; songs and stories by H Street community elders known as The Northeast Senior Singers and the Delta Players; plus a play, €The Bridge of Bodies,€ written and performed by Haitian-American, Kathleen Gonzales.

€If you think about it, people come to see a theater performance or hear music. You are taken to a new place when you come and experience an arts event emotionally and mentally. I think that creates an energy and opportunity for people to see one another in a new light, stand in each other€s shoes, and achieve new understandings,€ said Mary Hall Surface, 51, the festival€s artistic director.

A new perspective is exactly what playwright Kathleen Gonzales, 34, hopes that Washington audiences walk away with after seeing her one-woman play about her beloved homeland recently devastated by a cataclysmic earthquake in January.

Her monologue, €The Bridge of Bodies,€ she said, dispels myths and stereotypes about the people of Haiti. Proceeds from her performances will benefit Haitian earthquake relief efforts and recovery.

€As an artist I have always felt that it was my responsibility to help people who are not Haitian understand about Haiti, and what it is to be Haitian,€ Gonzales said.

€For me, writing about Haiti is something that I am passionate about, something that I am moved by. In many instances the play wrote itself through me,€ the artist said.
The vision for Intersections originated with Jane Lang, founder and chair of the Atlas Center€s board of directors. Lang said that she wanted to host a festival that would bring artists of different genres and audiences of different ages, races and cultures together.

That€s why she enlisted Surface, the award-winning playwright and director who lives in the District to pull the festival together. Once on board, Lang said that Surface jumped right in. Last summer, Surface put out calls to artists about the project. She received more than 80 proposals for the festival and narrowed them down to the 57 actual performances.

Surface has spent most of her artistic career creating art experiences that are inter-generational, events that both young people and adults are able to enjoy together.

€Being able to gather in a forum that the art provides lets us do something that is to wrestle with some things that might be harder to talk about in other circumstances.

But the arts give you a place where you can meet on common ground and most importantly you can imagine together,€ Surface said.

For additional information about performances, visit www.intersectionsdc.org.