Shayna Jones. Photo: Louis Bockner

Shayna Jones. Photo: Louis Bockner

Kaslo performer collects stories of Black rural experience

Shayna Jones will create a performance piece about Black people ‘tucked away in the countryside’

A Kaslo performance artist is creating a theatre piece with stories of Black people who, like her, live in small towns and rural areas.

Using her skills and experience as a singer, drummer, actor, and dancer, Shayna Jones is creating a one-woman performance piece with their stories.

Jones calls the project Black and Rural, and to develop it she recently received a BC Arts Council grant and one of four artist residencies sponsored by the Civic Theatre in Nelson. Jones will also document her work on her website at https://www.wearestoryfolk.com/.

The new piece will be similar to a style of performing she has been developing for years, but with different subject matter.

“I tell folktales,” she says. “I do it in a West African oral storytelling style where I involve the audience a lot. I do lots of singing with the audience and on my own, in between stories and within the stories, and I drum.”

She will weave together the contributed stories “with Afro-centric movement, rhythm and melody … to give voice to the experience and wisdom of Black folk tucked away in the countryside.”

Missing Voices: Shayna Jones from Touchstones Nelson on Vimeo.

Jones grew up in Chicago and Vancouver, and despite the cultural diversity of those places, she says, the only Black person she knew well was her father.

She uses the metaphor of grafting, as in grafting a fruit tree branch, to describe her work.

“This project is a way for me to graft myself onto my heritage, to graft myself into a sense of place in my heritage, a sense of place in my skin.”

Jones is equally committed to rural life and to her Black heritage. She wants to fully experience both together, and she wants her home-schooled kids, age six, five and three, to do the same, in a small rural place, not in a big city.

“I want to raise my kids close to the rhythms of the earth and the rhythms of the land.

“Wanting them to have a strong sense of their Blackness – they are mixed race – in addition to their European heritage, I want to stand and know where I am in my Blackness, so that they have something real to draw upon.”

This video was produced by the Nelson and District Arts Council

Her desires to inhabit her Blackness and live on the land each involve slowing down.

“My quest to be authentically and richly connected to my heritage … has everything to do with just slowing down and being close to this land and to the earth.”

She understands why wanting to be “intentionally tucked away in the countryside” might seem strange “in light of what’s been happening socio-politically in the Black community. There is so much push and pull and story-creating about what it is to be Black.”

Shayna Jones. Photo: Louis Bockner

Shayna Jones. Photo: Louis Bockner

Her story is not one we will see in popular media, she says.

“It’s not the sexy story that is on television or on the front pages of newspapers.”

In addition to a performance piece, Jones has decided to create a photo and video exhibit to be shown in the entrance to the concert space, featuring the contributing storytellers and the communities they live in.

She hopes we will be able to attend the event in 2022.

Meanwhile, Jones invites Black people living in the countryside, anywhere in the country, to contact her through her website.

Related: Civic Theatre announces artist residency program



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Trail Smoke Eaters fell 6-1 to the Penticton Vees on Sunday, their third loss to the perennial BCHL powerhouse six games into the 20-game season. Photo: Stephen Piccolo
Penticton Vees dominant in win over Trail Smoke Eaters

Trail Smoke Eaters enjoy two day break until their fourth meeting with Penticton Vees on Wednesday

Kalesnikoff Lumber will be providing materials for a 21-storey apartment building in Vancouver. Rendering: Henriquez Partners Architects
Kalesnikoff supplying mass timber for several major projects

The West Kootenay lumber company will be making the products at South Slocan facility

This painting is a piece from Young Visions 2021, opening April 22 at the Kootenay Gallery. Photo: S. Painter
Showcase of artwork by Kootenay Columbia students opens April 22

Young Visions 2021 runs April 22 to May 29 in the Kootenay Gallery of Art, Castlegar

Selkirk College has received provincial funding to assist students. File photo
Selkirk College receives funding to assist students

Provincial funding is available to West Kootenay students

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

Most Read