Carla Blank is a writer, editor, and director whose cross disciplinary historical reference, Rediscovering America: The Making of Multicultural America 1900-2000 (Three Rivers Press, 2003), highlights and reintegrates the complex contributions of women, African-and-Native Americans, artists, immigrants, radicals, and others normally cast to the margins of history books.
Her most recent publication, the anthology Powwow: Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience--Short Fiction from Then to Now (Da Capo Press, 2009) was co-edited with Ishmael Reed. It's 63 selections are culled from storytelling traditions of Alaska, the Southwest, and the antebellum South, classic and current members of the American literary canon, worker writers and experimental writers who have disappeared from view, and young writers just beginning their careers.
Her current writing projects include a study of North American women who became architects in the nineteenth century, and a chronology of the United States and the territories that will become the United States, from 1776 to the present.
Her essay, "A new New Deal for the Arts (San Francisco Chronicle 02/02/09), inspired a May 13, 2009 PBS NewsHour segment on the current economic state of artists. Other essays include "America, the Beautiful," (counterpunch.com, 06/ 27/ 07); "Worst U.S. Massacre?," which first appeared as an Op-Ed in the San Francisco Chronicle (05/02/07) and was reprinted in the online newsletters, Counter Punch and FAIR, besides many blogs; and "Whose Abstract Art?" in The Green Magazine (Aug./Sept. 2006).
Carla Blank is coauthor, with Jody Roberts, of Live OnStage!, an anthology of performing arts techniques and styles available in teacher resource and student editions (Dale Seymour Publications, a Pearson Education imprint, 1997, 2000). Based upon her experiences teaching and directing young artists, starting when she was twelve years old, the book is intended to help teachers integrate arts into their basic classroom curriculum. Its ecumenical approach mixes performing arts traditions from around the world, making cross disciplinary connections and generally expanding concepts of theater training to include traditional and experimental techniques, while still fulfilling the guidelines of the National Standards for Arts Education. The anthology has received statewide adoptions for middle school use in North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi and Idaho, and is referenced in various school district curriculum guides in the U.S. and Canada, including the Yale-New Haven Teacher's Institute and the Cambridge Public School Drama Collaborative, developed with Harvard University's Office of the Arts.
As editorial director of the Ishmael Reed Publishing Company, an independent small press, she supervises poetry and prose projects. Their most recent publication, in 2011, is The New and Selected Yuri, Writing from Peeling Till Now, a collection of poetry and short stories by Yuri Kageyama, a writer based in Japan. She is currently working on the first volume by Alaska based poet, Ishmael Hope. Other Ishmael Reed Publishing releases include four poetry collections authored by California based poets, Boadiba, Karla Brundage, Tennessee Reed and Neli Moody; and Short Stories by 16 Nigerian Women edited by Toyin Adewale-Gabriel.
Carla Blank has taught at University of California at Berkeley, Dartmouth College, and the University of Washington, Seattle, as well as lectured for Harvard University's Office of the Arts, Prague's Charles' University, and the Universidad de Alcala in Spain. She has also been a performer, director, and teacher of dance and theater for over forty years, especially devoting her time to youth and community arts collaborative performance projects, partially funded with grants from state and local governments and private foundations.
Since 2003 she has been the artistic director of The Domestic Crusaders Project, serving as dramaturge and director of staged readings and performances of The Domestic Crusaders, a two act play about three generations of a Muslim Pakistani-American family by northern California based playwright, Wajahat Ali. In 2005 showcase productions were mounted at the Thrust Theatre (of Berkeley Repertory Theatre) and the San Jose State University Theatre, and staged readings of his second play, The Unwholly Warriors, were presented in 2006-07. September 11, 2009, The Domestic Crusaders' New York City premiere run of five weekends began Off-Broadway, at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, where it enjoyed world-wide media aclaim and standing room only audiences. July 30 and August 1, 2010, The Domestic Crusaders was staged at MuslimFest, in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; November 14, 2010, Act One was staged at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Hall in Washington, D.C., where it continues to be archived on their website, and the play returned to New York on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of 9-11, as part of The Art of Justice: 9-11 Performance Project at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater of John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
From 2008-09, Carla Blank worked with director Robert Wilson to create a performance-portrait inspired by Suzushi Hanayagi, legendary Japanese choreographer and dancer, and long time friend and collaborator of both artists. Archival and newly filmed material by Richard Rutkowski was combined with new and reconstructed dances, with a company of six dancers including CC Chang, Sally Gross, Meg Harper, Yuki Kawahisa and featuring Jonah Bokaer and Illenk Gentille. The work reflects Hanayagi's current state of dementia and serves as a poetic monument to a working friendship. It premiered April 17 & 18, 2009, at the Guggenheim Mueum in New York, as part of their Works & Process Series; was developed for August 8 & 9, 2009 performances at East Hampton, New York's Guild Hall; had its international premiere at Berlin's Akademie der Kunste Spet. 12, 2010, and was shown at the Baryshnikov Arts Center Dec. 5, 2010. In April, 2010, Suzushi Hanayagi, A Moving Life, Rutkowski and Wilson's short film, that includes research by Blank and images from rehearsals and the Guggenheim performances, premiered on French ARTE TV stations and was shown on Sundance Channel in the U.S. Carla Blank is one of those interviewed in Rutkowski's 65' film, The Space in Back of You, which will premiere in January, 2012 at Lincoln Center's film festival, Dance on Camera.
In 2007, Carla Blank made her recording debut as a violinist with The Ishmael Reed Quintet, on the CD For All We Know, available through cdbaby.com. She lives in Oakland, California, with her family of writers, Ishmael Reed and Tennessee Reed.
1491 by Charles G. Mann
The Chronological History of the Negro in America by Peter M. Bergman
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen
AMERICAN BOUILLABAISSE, a short fiction anthology edited with Ishmael Reed
Da Capo Press, Perseus Books imprint: POWWOW (2009). Edited with Ishmael Reed
Three Rivers Press, imprint of Random House: REDISCOVERING AMERICA (2003)
Dale Seymour Publications, Pearson Education imprint: LIVE ONSTAGE! (1997, 2000). With Jody Roberts
Playing the violin
Walking local marinas and park paths
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