Visual Storytelling Across the Haitian Diaspora: A Fatherland Panel Discussion
Co-presented with Stages
with Candice D'Meza, Èzili Dantò, Nic Brierre Aziz, and France-Luce Benson
Join Houston Cinema Arts Society and Stages for a free live virtual panel discussion on visual storytelling across the Haitian Diaspora with Candice D'Meza, Èzili Dantò, Nic Brierre Aziz, and France-Luce Benson, moderated by HCAS Artistic Director Jessica Green. This program is part of the Fatherland program, currently streaming on our site.
Candice D’Meza (B.A. Black Studies; MPA) is an actor, playwright, multi-disciplinary artist and mother of two based in Houston, Texas. A proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association, she has been called one of the “Seven Young Houston Theater Actors To Watch” and awarded the 2018 Best Utility Player Award by the Houston Press. Social practice in nature, her projects manifest as participatory theatre performance, workshops, and audio-visual installation. Her artistry aims to activate the public space for the reclamation and repatriation of self through song, dance, theatrical performance, audio-visual installation, diary/memoir, and film. Her work explores themes related to identity, African spiritual technologies of connection, land and water. One such project currently in development ,“Fatherland: A Recursive Memoir Mythology Play”, grant funded by the City of Houston, is an audiovisual immersive performance that serves as a community grief ritual for all those who have lost an emotional or physical homeland—by force or by fate.
Currently, her creative writing work explores the uses of fantasy and imagination as a radical liberatory practice. Her ongoing series of liberatory micro-plays, “30 Ways To Get Free”, uses speculative fiction, sci-fi, and afro-futurism to imagine liberated Blackness across the expanse of time. Some of these microplays have been published by The Acentos Review, and are to be filmed and streamed as a part of Catastrophic Theater’s 2020-2021 theater season.
Èzili Dantò is a human rights and international law attorney, an award winning playwright, performance poet and cultural activist. She was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and raised in the United States. She is a Haiti scholar and runs the Èzili Network, the Free Haiti Movement, the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, ZiliDesigns and Zili Dlo: Clean Water, Renewable Power and Skills Transfer for Haiti. Èzili is the author of 10 plays and two book series. She regularly conducts Haiti teach-ins on the non-colonial narrative on Haiti centering on Haiti's wealth, natural resources, revolutionary culture, Vodun spirituality and her expression of this through the VodunJazzoetry performance productions. Èzili was featured as a Haiti scholar and historian in the documentary: 1804 - The Hidden History of Haiti. In 2018, Èzili was honored at the Connecticut Women Hall of Fame for her lifetime of justice and cultural advocacy works.
Nic Brierre Aziz
Nic Brierre Aziz is a Haitian-New Orleanian interdisciplinary artist and curator. His current practice is deeply community focused and rooted around the utilization of personal and collective histories to reimagine the future. In addition to his personal artistic practice, he currently serves as the Community Engagement Curator for the New Orleans Museum of Art. He has contributed to publications such as HuffPost, Burnaway, and AFROPUNK and his work has been featured by The Oxford American, The Associated Press and The Alternative UK. He has been a recipient of several notable artist residencies and fellowships and most recently was selected as a 2020 Andy Warhol Foundation Curatorial Fellow and a 2021 Joan Mitchell Center Artist-in-Residence. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College and a Master of Science degree from The University of Manchester (UK).
France-Luce Benson’s plays have been produced by The Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Fire This Time Festival, the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center/City Theatre of Miami, Crossroads Theatre, The Billy Holiday Theatre, Loyola Marymount University, and Duke University, among others. Awards and honors include: NEA Grant recipient 2017, Dramatists Guild Fellow 2015-2016, Winner of the 41st annual Samuel French OOB Festival 2016, winner of the National New Play Network Award for Short Playwriting 2014, Playwright Observer Fellow at the Eugene O’Neil NPC 2016, The Kilroys List- Honorable Mention (Boat People); Alfred P. Sloan New Play Commission (The Devil’s Salt); Ensemble Studio Theatre New Play Commission , Djerassi Resident Artists Program Fellowship recipient 2017, Alfred P. Sloan Screenplay Award (Healing Roots); and Princess Grace Award Runner Up. She earned her M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon University, is an Associate Professor at St. Johns University, and a Member Playwright at the Ensemble Studio Theatre.