Sarahjeen François, Sara Lyons, The Rock Collection
Past event


The 19th Annual New Original Works Festival concludes with a program of works by Sarahjeen François, Sara Lyons, and The Rock Collection. 


Sarahjeen François: Sister, Braid My Hair

Accompanied by the bass, tone, and slap of the Djembe, Sarahjeen Francois’ new theater work, Sister, Braid My Hair, pays homage to the rich cultural practices of African hair braiding through rhythmic poetry and flow. When the ancestors of today’s Diaspora were kidnapped and sold into slavery, they did what they could to hold on to whatever generational traditions, information, lessons, and skills they could– among those traditions was hair braiding preserving the bond it creates. Sister, Braid My Hair participates in the tradition of this passing of knowledge by exploring just how cyclical time can be, examining the effects of the over-policing of Black and Brown spaces, and asking: What happens when unsuspecting Black lives are interrupted by systemic oppression?


Sara Lyons: This Emancipation Thing

Sara Lyons’ This Emancipation Thing is a new interdisciplinary performance that embraces second wave feminist histories as embodied and non-linear. The theater becomes a multimedia consciousness-raising session as archival texts from 1968 and interview transcripts with L.A.-based feminists of all ages and genders create a textual landscape and collaborative installation that collapses time. What resonances and glitches emerge between 1968 and 2022, across generations? With reproductive rights slipping through our fingers, what wisdom must we learn from the activists who ushered in Roe v. Wade (1973)?


The Rock Collection: Fault | Lines

Combining dance, spoken word, sound, and light, Fault | Lines creates a landscape both obscured and defined by darkness. Throughout the new work, the members of The Rock Collection (Erik Speth, Sarri Sanchez, Arletta Anderson, Finn Murphy, Jamar Morris, and Nguyễn Nguyên) oscillate between manipulating warm halogen and cold LED work lights to constantly recontextualize their bodies and the space. Illuminations and shadows become extensions of individuals with their surroundings, their link to one another, as well as the deepest parts of themselves shielded from the appraisal of an outside world. Fault | Lines contemplates the mechanics of memory, origins, beginnings, and human connection—physical and otherwise.


All three works will be presented each night. 

“See what’s cutting-edge in the city’s vibrant performing arts scene.”

Time Out LA

cast & crew


Written by Sarahjeen François

With Movement Direction by Adzua Ayana Asha Amoa

Performed by Eboni Alexander, Dionne Robinson, Adzua Ayana Asha Amoa, Sarahjeen François, and E. E. Williams

Music by Justin Bardales

Lighting Design by Chu-Hsuan Chang

Special thanks to Sam Paul Salman, Amrita Ramanan, Bill Ballou, Milton Turner, Jayshun Mathews



Produced by Sara Lyons Projects

Conceived and Directed by Sara Lyons

Co-Created by the Ensemble

Text Adapted by Sara Lyons from archival documents by Vivian Gornick for The New York Times Magazine, Shulamith Firestone, New York Radical Feminists, New York Radical Women, Redstockings, and the performers

Performed by Alanna Blair, Ginna Diaz, Patty Gone, Jennifer Jonassen, Chenoa Rae

Media and Sound Design by Joseph Amodei

Scenic Design by Emily MacDonald

Lighting Design by Chu-Hsuan Chang

Assistant Direction by Claire Edmonds

Supported by a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant

Sara Lyons Projects is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas

Special thanks to Wesleigh Gates and Jamison Edgar, Chatham University Immersive Media Program, Thymele Arts, Cheri Gaulke, Gina Young, Nicole Kelly, Heather Hewko, Lex Ryan, Edgar Miramontes, Jonathan Snipes, Yuval Zehavi, Kfir Lapid-Mashall, Daniel J. Hirsch, Kap Taylor, and Cindy Lopez



Choreography and performance by Members of The Rock Collection: Arletta Anderson, Jamar Morris, Finn Murphy, Nguyễn Nguyên, Sarri Sanchez, Erik Speth

Text by Jamar Morris

Music and Sound Design by Eric Mason, George Malek

Lighting Design by Erik Speth

The Rock Collection would like to thank Renaissance Arts Academy, Joseph Kraft and Talia Moreta for their creative contribution to this work

about the artists

Sarahjeen François

Sarahjeen François is an LA based Haitian-American performer and playwright from Miami, Fl. Her creative work is an exploration of the Afro-mythic and participates in the rich practice of creating new myths derived from traditional and contemporary Afro-Caribbean folklore; through this folkloric lens, her stories highlight the complexities of Black femme personification. An MFA Acting graduate from the CalArts School of Theater, her artistic endeavors have led her to work with The Playwrights’ Center, The Atlantic Center for the Arts, Castello San Basilio, Emory University, Netflix, QCODE Media, Atlanta Fringe Festival, Hollywood Fringe Festival, SheLA Arts, Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, CalArts Center for New Performance, Teatro Línea de Sombra, Horizon Theatre Company, Peach State Opera, and others.


Sara Lyons

Sara Lyons is an LA-based director creating critically embodied new feminist theatre works. Previous work with REDCAT includes This Emancipation Thing (2022 Studio Residency), and BigBlackOctoberSurprise (2020) and BBC (Big Black Cockroach) (2019) with Paul Outlaw. Their work has also been presented by The Kitchen, The Wattis Institute, Los Angeles Performance Practice, OUTsider, SFX Festival at The Wild Project, Ensemble Studio Theatre, HERE Arts Center, LaMaMa, Edinburgh Fringe, and more. Sara has received residencies from REDCAT, Ucross Foundation, Thymele Arts, PAM Residencies, and Los Angeles Performance Practice/ Automata. They hold an MFA in Directing from Carnegie Mellon University and are an alum of the Hemispheric Institute’s EMERGENYC program for artists working at intersections of performance and politics at NYU. They have taught at UCLA and Sarah Lawrence College, and their writing is published by and Thank you to activists past, present, and future. |


The Rock Collection

Arletta Anderson is a Los Angeles-based movement artist and performance maker. As a performer she has worked closely with various artists including Gerald Casel, Catherine Galasso, Lauren Simpson & Jenny Stulberg, Aura Fishbeck, and Detour Dance. She has guest taught at University of San Francisco, City College of San Francisco, Scripps College, Bowling Green University, Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, and Renaissance Arts Academy. Under the moniker Andersmith, Arletta makes work in collaboration with theater artist/writer Adam Smith. Their work lives at the intersection of movement, theater, and live sound and has been presented nationally.

A native son of the San Francisco-Bay Area, Jamar Morris is an educator by trade, a spoken word poet by craft, and a Hip Hop head at heart. Jamar co-founded Vocal ARTillery in 2013, a spoken word showcase collective, to create spaces in the San Fernando Valley centered around a shared culture for artists to present work and fellowship. In collaboration with colleges, universities, and nonprofits across California, he has performed original compositions and presented “spacing-making” and writing workshops. Alongside Percussionist Kevin Yokota, he is one half of the jazz duo, Little Seeds. Jamar’s work is often concerned with story that reconnects ancestral wisdom lost to the peoples throughout the African diaspora and other peoples of similar experiences. To that wisdom, rhythm is always essential in his work. Jamar is currently a faculty member at Renaissance Arts Academy.

Finn Murphy is an LA-based dancer, choreographer and teacher. He began his dance training at Renaissance Arts Academy and went on to receive a B.A. in Dance and Literature from Bennington College, Vermont. Soon after graduation, he relocated to Barcelona to start the Three Planes Collective alongside Kaya Lovestrand and Emma Villavecchia. Together they staged works by Elena Demyanenko and Isabel Lopez both in Spain and the US, in addition to their own choreography. While in Los Angeles, Finn has had the honor of working on projects with No)One Art House, Lindsey Red-tail, Jay Carlon, as wel as The Rock Collection. He now teaches full-time at Renaissance Arts Academy in the humanities and dance departments.

Nguyễn Nguyên is a dance maker based in Los Angeles. He was born in Vietnam and came to the United States as a refugee. Nguyên makes works that are layered autobiographical narrative to express the complexity of identity by looking at public versus private memory, collective versus personal, and the universal versus the particular. His explorations are not meant to merely reveal binaries, but rather to express simultaneity, an integration of all the parts to make the whole. He has worked with The Rock Collection since 2011. Nguyên will be sharing his new endeavor, to get there from here, with Maria Gillespie and Kevin Williamson at the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery at Scripps College, August 24-October 9, 2022. The premiere performance as a part of the gallery installation will be September 17, 2022.

Sarri Sanchez is a Los Angeles-based dancer, choreographer and educator, and a founding member of The Rock Collection. Sarri has performed with artists including Liz Hoefner Adamis, Robin Conrad, Mike Kelley, Dance Aegis, LA Contemporary Dance Company, Invertigo Dance Theatre and as a founding member of Holly Johnston’s Ledges and Bones. She is also a co-founder of the movement collectives, Tales Between Our Legs and IN/EX Dance Project. Sarri holds an MFA in Dance from Hollins University/American Dance Festival and a BA in World Arts and Cultures/Dance from UCLA. Sarri’s teaching practice is rooted at Renaissance Arts Academy, where she has helped cultivate the dance program since 2006.

Erik Speth is an LA-based choreographer, performer, multimedia artist and educator. He holds an MFA in Dance from The Ohio State University, emphasizing Dance & Technology and Dance pedagogy; in addition, he holds a BFA in Choreography & Performance from California Institute of the Arts. He is a founding member of Ledges and Bones Dance Project under the artistic direction of Holly Johnston. Erik was selected to partake in the Music and Dance Exchange (MADE) 2006 at Darting Arts College in England. He has worked with Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, Los Angeles Movement Arts Oni Dance and project-to-project with other US artists: Maria Gelespie, Maggie Lee, Liz Hoefner, Kate Hutter-Mason, Lisa K Lock, Nguyen Nguyen, Kevin Williamson, Abby Zbikowski, IN/EX Dance Project, Oni Dance and Tales Between Our Legs. In addition, Erik is the co-founder of the dance department at Renaissance Arts Academy, as well as The Rock Collection.