I Am That I AM, Woman: Black!

I Am That I AM, Woman: Black!

 Los Angeles, California, USA
BandComedySpoken Word

Nationally Touring One-Woman Show Honors African American Women Through A Mesmerizing Historical Journey

Biography

Adilah Barnes raises her arms to the ceiling as if invoking a God. A spotlight picks her out on the bare floor that serves as a stage. She speaks . . . I Am That I Am Woman, Black. Come journey with me as I take us back. The times of so many are long gone. But the rewards of their efforts live on and on.” (Quoted from Accent/LA)

The nationally touring show stars award-winning stage actor, Adilah Barnes, best known to film audiences for her role in Universal’s award-winning Erin Brockovich and to television audiences for her five seasons in the role of “Anne Marie” on ABC’s Roseanne. Barnes received most of her stage training in San Francisco Bay Area companies and theatres such as the American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) and the Julian Theatre, both of San Francisco.
This jubilant and captivating journey through time explores the lives of seven African American women who have made lasting contributions to the fields of human rights, education, literature, and politics. I AM THAT I AM: Woman, Black celebrates their ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and achieve their life callings by their undaunted faith and belief in themselves. In their own words and embellished with song, Barnes brings to life Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Mary McLeod Bethune, Zora Neale Hurston, Lorraine Hansberry, Angela Davis and Maya Angelou for audiences of all ages. The show has been described as “a whirlwind trip through time, beginning in the years of slavery and leading to recent years.” (The Daily Kent State, Kent State University) Barnes concludes the show with a post-performance exchange with the audience discussing the characters portrayed and herself. Barnes believes that one is sure to walk away with a stronger sense of self by experiencing the triumph of the human spirit through these women.“Because of my great love and respect for these women, I have chosen to create a tapestry of them,” says Barnes. She also says the show plays homage to the immortal spirits of the women. She dedicates the show to her late mother Mrs. Mosea Lee Barnes and her deceased niece Adrienne Lynn Troxler Summerlin who was murdered.

Barnes says she was greatly influenced to finally create her own project after touring three seasons in another historical one-woman show, Sister, Can I Speak For You? with the African American Drama Company of San Francisco. Barnes conceived the show in 1990 with a grant from the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department. “Ninety-nine percent of the words spoken are theirs,” she says, adding that the charismatic spirit of her literary characters also speak to a sense of empowerment critical to Black survival.

Portraying her first five characters, she performed at several senior citizen centers in the Los Angeles area. Barnes then took the successful show on the road to other California cities, including the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and Santa Barbara. She also performed for presenters such as The National Women’s Theatre Festival in Los Angeles, The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival, The Watts Third World Festival and The City of Las Vegas, Nevada. Barnes later added two new characters⎯the feisty novelist, folklorist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston and the eloquent political activist Angela Davis, to the original production. The show has since toured throughout the United States in thirty states, coast to coast⎯from Alaska to Maine and California to Florida.

In 2000, the show became international and received international acclaim in the Rotterdam Fabrikaat Festival in Holland. “I want to reach out to young people…because there is such a great need for positive role-modeling, a sense of belonging and a stronger sense of self-knowledge,” Barnes says. “History can’t be forgotten if its images are kept alive. Declaring Black women in positive ways is a step forward. Black people have come full circle from Africa to slavery to now, and we need to celebrate that. Our survival is a testimony to our greatness,” she exclaims.

Both the critics and audiences agree.
“[Adilah’s] characterizations put you in touch with the roots of black people, and in particular the strength of black women.” (Los Angeles Watts Times); “Barnes has certainly created a rare gem here.” (The Maine Campus, University of Maine newspaper) “…In the schools is where I AM belongs, for its view is uncompromisingly heroic: offering role models…” (Los Angeles Weekly); “although referred to…as a play, ‘I Am That I Am: Woman, Black’ is more a historical revue…Barnes is a disciplined and gifted actress who clearly delineates character from character.” (Sacramento Bee): “I would want to come back to see more! It was good… the way you inspired me and my classmates to read more black history books.” (Robin Johnson, Student); “Touching. She brought all my mentors alive.” (Michelle Richards, Actress/Teacher); “[Barnes‘] version of [Maya] Angelou’s slow, salacious laug

Discography

Partial List of Universities/Colleges/Secondary Schools Performed

Albright College, Pennsylvania
Audubon Junior High School, Los Angeles
Augusta State College, Georgia
Bellevue Community College, Washington
Berea College, Kentucky
Broward Community College, Florida
California State University, Chico
California State University, Fresno
California State Univerity, Humboldt
California State University, Northridge
California State University, Sacramento
California State University, San Jose
California State University, Sonoma
Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania
Catawba College, North Carolina
Central College, Iowa
Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant
Clemson College, South Carolina
College of Charleston, South Carolina
Cochise College, Arizona
Cornell University, New York
Davidson College, North Carolina
Emory Riddle Aeronautical University, Arizona
Florida International University
Georgia College, Georgia
Georgia State Universiy
Grays Harbor College, Washington
Hudloft Middle School, Washington
Imperial Valley College, California
Iowa State University, Iowa
Jason Lee Middle Schools, Washington
Kent State University, Ohio
Lafayette College, Pennsylvania
LaMar College, Texas
Lewis-Clark State University, Idaho

Lockhaven University, Pennsylvania
Mansfield University, Pennsylvania
Mercer College, Georgia
Modesto Junior College, California
Mojave College, Arizona
Monroe Community College, New York
Monterey Peninsula College, California
Mount Holyoke, Massachusetts
Oakland University, Michigan
Oregon Institute of Technology, Klamath Falls
Palm Beach Community College, Florida
Pennsylvania State University,Altoona
Pennsylvania State University, Berks
Pennsylvania State University, Capitol
Pennsylvania State University, Fayette
Pennsylvania State University, Hazelton
Pennsylvania State University, New Kensington
Pennsylvania State University, Scranton
Pennsylvania State University, Schuylkill
Pennsylvania State University, Shenango Valley
Pierce College, Washington
Reseda High School, California
Rock Valley College, Illinois
Rust College, Mississippi
Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory School High School, Los Angeles
Saint Bonaventure University, New York
Salsbury State University, Maryland
San Diego State University, California
Seattle Central Community College, Washington
Sienna College, New York
Solano Community College, California
Stanford University, California
Suffolk Community College, New York
South Dakota State University, Brookings
Stetson University, Florida
Sweet Briar College, Virginia
Temple University, Pennsylvania
University of Akron, Ohio
University of Alabama, Birmingham
University of Alaska, Anchorage
University of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

University of California, Davis
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California Med Center, San Francisco
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of Central Florida, Orlando
University of Colorado Springs, Colorado
University of Idaho, Moscow
University of Maine, Orono
University of Minnesota, Morris
University of Missouri, Kansas
University of Nebraska, Kearney
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
University of Nebraska, Omaha
University of Nevada, Reno
University of North Carolina, Charlotte
University of San Francisco
University of South Carolina, Columbia
University of Toledo, Ohio
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Valley High School, Sacramento
Weslayan College, Georgia
Western State College of Colorado, Gunnison
Whitman College, Washington
Whittier College, California
Yakima Valley Community College, Washington

And many many more!
1998 NACA NATIONAL SHOWCASE
2003 NACA NATIONAL SHOWCASE
2007 NACA SOUTH REGIONAL SHOWCASE