The Alta Arts is pleased to present What’s in a Name?, an interactive multidisciplinary exploration of how names shape our lives, by Houston-based writer and performer Banke Awopetu. Through spoken word poetry, videography, dance, photography, and live music, “What’s in a Name?” confronts the ways names shape how we see ourselves and each other. The performance will take place from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on Sunday, March 20, 2022 at the Alta Arts.
Awopetu writes: “Names are spells, the meaning cast each time we or someone else utters the syllables that form our existence. As a Black American and Nigerian woman, I have a unique experience with names. I am from a people who had the power of our names stripped away and from a people who perpetuate power through naming ceremonies. From a people who conjure new names for ourselves, which are often met with mocking and labels such as “ghetto”, our employability and entrance into mainstream society are thus hindered. And from a people whose names are birthed from region, circumstance and aspiration; soliciting both admiration and derision from the Western world. Of course, the significance and politicization of names are not limited to Black Americans and Nigerians. Ascribing meaning through names is a universal experience.”
Banke Awopetu delved into writing and performance early in her childhood. She majored in Drama and African/African-American studies at the University of Virginia, later returning to her hometown of Rochester, NY where she earned a Master’s Degree in Adolescent Education, and taught English to at-risk students for a decade. Her novels, Always Want More and New Black, are commercial and critical successes that explore the ills of hip hop culture and urban education. She has been a keynote speaker for the Urban League, has been featured in both Ebony and Women’s Health magazines, and is an NPR Moth Storyslam champion. A newly minted Houston resident, Awopetu also writes and edits creative copy, and has done commissioned work for the Houston Museum of African-American Culture and Houston African-American library. Seats are limited, and tickets are available at thealtaarts.org. Parking is complimentary. Doors will open at 6:00 pm, the performance starts at 6:30 pm.