With the most female candidates in history running for Texas political offices, the #MeToo movement, and Women’s History Month all coinciding, now might be the perfect time for Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson’s first theatrical production.
The self-described singer-rapper-poet of “monologue, movement, and music” debuts her The Bad Mama Jama Mixtape: A Woman’s Soundtrack for Life show Saturday, March 24, at 8 p.m. at the “Little Carver,” the Carver Community Cultural Center’s small theater.
“It’s all about female empowerment and women’s issues, and whatever we’re going through,” Sanderson said of the production, which involves a cast of 10 women involved in multiple hip-hop art forms, including fashion, turntablism, and the breakdance style known as “b-girlism.”
“This production is a celebration of womanhood and hip-hop, marrying those two things together,” Sanderson said. During the production, she will debut a new song titled “Queendom Come,” which contains the timely lyrics “keep marching on ’til queendom come.”
That the show occurs during Women’s History Month was purposeful, she said. Sanderson was approached one year ago by Cassandra Parker-Nowicki, cultural center supervisor for the Carver, to do a program for the Little Carver Intimate Series.
Parker-Nowicki said Sanderson came back to her with an out-of-the-box idea, saying “this is an opportunity to do something I’ve always wanted to do, but have never done before.”
Parker-Nowicki found the idea for a theatrical production based on exploring female identity “brilliant,” and said that she gets “more and more excited as I’m learning about the women who will be performing in the piece.”
Among the cast are Yvette Hardin and DJ Ms. Eclectic of F.R.E.E., who perform a variety of gospel hip-hop. The duo’s name is an acronym for “forever radical, edifying, and exalting,” Sanderson said, who also revealed that her own stage name “Vocab” stands for “vocally optimizing, capturing, analyzing, becoming.”
Men can find something of value in the show as well, Sanderson said. DJ Ms. Eclectic has a central role in the production, in part to emulate the important role of Sanderson’s own DJ father in her life.
“There were turntables and milk crates and speakers everywhere in my house,” Sanderson said of the staple tools of DJ life, and “we were always listening to music, which really is the soundtrack to life, if you think about it.”
Hip-hop of the 1980s and early 1990s was more celebratory of women, she said, citing influences like Queen Latifah, YoYo, and MC Lyte.
“[Lately] hip-hop has not respected women’s sexuality, but debased and reduced it to the commodification of women, or the glorification of her body parts,” Sanderson said. “In this space [Bad Mama Jama], I want it to reclaim hip-hop for womanhood.”
The 90-minute program in two acts contains mature themes, including divorce, loneliness, and suicide. Sanderson recommends an audience of 16-year-olds and older, though she welcomes all ages and genders, she said, including males.
“There are men who support women and love women,” she said, citing several who are working in support of the production. “I don’t need the validation of a man, but I will welcome them to celebrate me.”
True to her “Vocab” name, she hopes that the audience comes away feeling empowered and able to identify with the subject matter – they might “hear something in the show that will speak to their brokenness and their strength.”
Tickets are $23 for the show at the intimate, cabaret-style Little Carver theater. Discounts are available for children, groups, veterans, seniors, and students. Click here for more information.