Whether in a pandemic or not, people need connection. So says Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson, San Antonio’s poet laureate, of a prevailing theme in Bad Mama Jama Remix: Let the Record Show, take two of a live production first performed in 2018.
The one-night, 90-minute performance will be held Saturday at 8 p.m. in front of a live but socially-distanced audience in the Carver Community Cultural Center’s Jo Long Theatre.
The Remix was originally scheduled for March 28, 2020, in the Little Carver event space, but was indefinitely postponed as the Carver shut down live performances along with the rest of the city.
Thus began more than a year of isolation that disallowed people to connect with friends and family, and performers to connect with audiences. But Sanderson said the underlying issues that trouble minds and hearts were present before the pandemic descended, and will remain after things approach normality.
“I think we all struggle with identity and loneliness,” she said, and “during this season we had more time to focus on it … we had a little bit more time to be quiet with our thoughts.”
However, “I really don’t think that the pandemic has much to do with it,” she said. “This is stuff that we are going through, and we’re going to talk about it.”
The ensemble cast includes new members Qween Paz and David Jacobe, and performers returning from the 2018 production include Tamara Adira, Yvette Hardin, Ami Nah Dece, Glo Armmer, Naomi Sumthin2Say, DJ Ms. Eclectic, and Sanderson. Not returning are Tausha Jackson and Lisa Secret Martinez, who Sanderson said took an injury during the recent winter storm.
In songs, stories, dance, raps, and poems, performers will focus on events from their lives, including struggles with physical and mental health.
“Right after, and even as we were creating the first show, the women in the cast were going through hell,” including a pre-cancerous condition that required surgery and other health crises, Sanderson said. Personal troubles also figure into several performances, from lost relationships to self-realizations.
“There are so many people in the audience that are going to find themselves maybe having gone through these situations when they hear about it,” Sanderson said, but the same can apply to the performers.
Hardin’s performance will reflect on nearing age 40 as a single woman, never married, with no kids.
Sanderson said the experience could be her own. “When she was reading the piece to me, I was like, ‘Damn, well just tell my life, then. That’s my life story.’ Her story is my story. It’s a discovery for the cast members, and it may be a discovery for the audience that their stories are similar.”
Tamara Adira is known in San Antonio as a flamenco dancer. She said working with a group of women of color, also expressive artists, helped show points of commonality between people of seemingly disparate experiences.
One point of commonality, she said, is that flamenco has North African roots. Performing with Sanderson reveals “that juxtaposition where flamenco meets hip-hop, which are both descending from Africa. … it’s interesting to hear how similar the rhythms are.”
It also helps that “Vocab has a spot-on intuition when it comes to accompanying me and my dance [with her raps],” Adira said.
In all, Sanderson promised “a lot more singing, rapping and dancing” than the first iteration of Bad Mama Jama. Though conceptually a remix, the Carver website points out that nearly all material in the show is new, and “this time their Afros are more luscious, their thighs are certainly thicker, and their voices are bolder and bigger.”
For Sanderson, putting on a live show after a one-year delay “represents springtime. We are peeking out to see if the coast is clear so we can regain some sense of normal,” she said. And the Carver will “pull out all of the stops to accommodate the challenges this ensemble brings,” including elaborate lighting cues and sound mixing.
“All of the cast misses live performances so much,” Sanderson said. “We cry and get emotional just thinking about it.”
Tickets are $25, available through Ticketmaster via the Carver website. Tickets previously purchased for the 2020 performance will be honored.