- These days some African-American artists prefer not to carry the weight of race within their work. “Excuse me,” Bashi Rose says, his deep voice unwavering, “that’s bullshit.” Rose, a Baltimore-based filmmaker, actor, playwright and co-founder of Nommo Theatre does not sit on his words.
- In 2011, he won a Baker Artist Award, followed, in 2012, by a fellowship with Open Society Institute (OSI), an organization working for lasting social and political change. Rose developed D.R.A.M.A. (Direct Responses Alleviate Misdirected Aggression) as an OSI fellow, along with inmates at the Maryland Correctional training center. The program reached black men within five Maryland prisons, teaching them about using the art of theater and film as a tool to overcome conflict.
He is an avid student of the Black Arts Movement which began in the 1960s, and includes voices of such literary luminaries as Amiri Baraka (widely credited as “The Father of the Black Arts Movement”), Sonia Sanchez and Gwendolyn Brooks, among others. Rose sees self love and knowledge of history as a critical piece of our own evolution.
The Park Heights native credits Baltimore’s poetry scene with expanding his worldview and in a fundamental sense, saving him. “Even though I never left the city I was still in whole different world.” Fellow poets pushed him to read Richard Wright, author of the classic Native Son, and Algerian thinker Frantz Fannon’s challenge to colonialism and white supremacy, Wretched of the Earth.
A multifaceted artist, he learned his craft hands on, “similar to the way of my ancestors in West Africa,” he says. “Whether they were sculptors or Griots, they learned it in their community.” Rose has performed or directed in venues throughout the state and in New York City including Theatre Project, Creative Alliance, Howard University, Maryland Institute College of Art, Center Stage, among others. Some of his film projects include Love Deferred and Me Myself and Us (based on the play by actor Robert Lee Hardy).
I hope you’ll enjoy listening to my interview via Soundcloud below with this prolific artist as he discusses creative influences (African filmmakers, French New Wave cinema, etc.), his mentor and Nommo Theatre co-founder, Mitchell Ferguson, collaborations with other artists such as Vincent Thomas and LOVE the poet, and much more.
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Check Bashi out on Vevo. I included a few clips – one from his recent short film, Love Deferred and a poetic ode to family life, A Mother’s Love.
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