2003.02.09 — The New Barbarians press releases

—from the Baltimore Sun Arts and Society section of February 9, 2003 page 6F:

New Barbarians celebrates festival

February doesn’t herald only Vivat! St. Petersburg, it’s also Black History Month. The New Barbarians, a work commissioned by the Walters Art Museum, is a cross-fertilization of both.

Created and performed by Baltimoreans Joyce J. Scott and Lorraine L. Whittlesey, this play with music uses historical and fictional characters to explore parallels between the experiences of people of African descent in Russia and America, among them, Alexander Pushkin and Langston Hughes.

“Slaves and Slavs” is the shorthand way Whittlesey describes the work, in which – true to their actual heritage – she portrays a Slavic American and Scott prortays a descendant of slaves. Their characters meet on a ship bound for Russia in 1932. We’re both down on our luck. She’s going to find something better, and I’m going because I couldn’t find anything better,” Whittlesey says.

Thematically, Scott calls the overall effect a “jaunty, sometimes scathing look at our world, the Africans’ place in it, and how, after centuries, things change yet remain the same.”

—from Radar Four…page 34… www.radarreview.com:


Joyce Scott and Lorraine L. Whittlesey

The Walters Art Museum

Saturday, February 15, 2003, 8 p.m.

What happens when you mix a New Yorker and a Baltimorean? You get the performance duo “Ebony and Irony” – better known as visual and performance artist Joyce Scott and musician and composer Lorraine L. Whittlesey.

This time around, the duo is tackling a piece of Russian history that is often forgotten – African Russians. As part of Baltimore’s Vivat! St. Petersburg festival, the ladies have put together an evening of music, prose, and visuals in a cabaret setting that seeks to attract the entire Baltimore community.

This piece gets its name from the exhibition running concurrently at The Walters Museum of Art. Entitled The New Barbarians, the satirical performance will draw on the history of African slaves in the royal court as well as African Americans who emigrated to communist Russia looking for more opportunities and the right to vote in the 1930s.

The exploration does not stop there. Ms. Scott is curating a show entitled Black Russians at Galerie Françoise et ses Frères which opens February 22. The duo is also collaborating with Gertrude’s at the BMA to present a week of Afro-Russian cuisine from February 19 through March 2.

—from the Walters Art Museum publicity for the event:


a commissioned performance piece

by Joyce J. Scott and Lorraine L. Whittlesey

Saturday, February 14, 8 p.m.

Celebrate Vivat! St. Petersburg and African-American Heritage Month with The New Barbarians, a premier performance on the Walters’ stage.

With a mixture of song, image, and satire, The New Barbarians will explore the parallels between the African experience in Russia and the United States. Visual and performance artist Joyce J. Scott and composer and musician Lorraine L. Whittlesey, themselves descendants of Slaves and Slavs, have been working together for many years creating wildly subversive and sardonic performances that skirt the borders of comedy, pathos, delight, and horror. This piece, commissioned by the Walters, will present a fascinating, jaunty, and sometimes scathing look at the world, Africans’ roles in it, and how, after centuries, things change yet remain the same. 

from the Baltimore Sun, LIVE section, Thursday February 13, 2003:

Gertrude’s Dinner Performance: Performance artists Joyce Scott and Lorraine Whittlesey present a satirical take on the combination of Slavic and African-American cuisines, 8 p.m. Feb 22 at the Baltimore Museum of Art.