Clive Lyttle is the founder of Certain Blacks which will soon present Soul on Ice festival which makes space for the new, alongside performances by established and pioneering artists.
Certain Blacks invite audiences to enjoy a range of creative responses to questions about the human condition, diversity, identity and improvisation. Soul on Ice presents five shows at Rich Mix, plus opening and closing events at The Place and Social Convention.
The programme includes innovative new dance from Extended Play at The Place, music from jazz musicians brought together by Chicago’s Katalyst Conversation, cabaret from The Cocoa Butter Club and circus theatre from Hannah Finn. The festival also includes an afternoon of live art commissions from Bold Mellon Collective and The Psyber Giantess , Anna Mudeka’s music theatre show, Mama Afrika, about Miriam Makeba and closes with an afternoon and evening party hosted by Social Convention. Full listings can be found here.
Certain Blacks is bringing us Soul on Ice Festival, what can you tell us about it?
Soul on Ice is a festival of performance presented March 1-17 across two venues, The Place and Rich Mix. Soul on Ice is the theme of this year’s indoor festival and features national and international diverse artists including Extended Play – How to Build a Universe at the Place along with Katalyst Conversation from Chicago USA, The Cocoa Butter Club, a live art double bill from Bold Mellon Collective and The Psyber Giantess (Diana Amma Gyankoma Abankwah) and circus from Hannah Finn Contortion Girl.
The festival ends on the 17 March with Mama Afrika as Told by Anna Mudeka which is the story of the South African Singer Miriam Makeba, a civil rights activist who campaigned against Apartheid in the 1960’s and was married to a member of the Black Panthers.
Where did the idea for the festival come from?
The idea of the festival is taken from the book Soul on Ice which was given to me by an uncle when I was a teenager. The book tells the story of author Eldridge Cleaver and his education, from crime to being a member of The Black Panthers. The idea came through post pandemic when issues of Black Lives Matters were being discussed and it felt important to acknowledge the past. Soul on Ice is the loose theme of the festival.
Tell us a little about how Soul on Ice Festival supports Certain Blacks ambitions as a company?
Soul on Ice, an indoor festival is one of two festivals we produce each year along with The Ensemble outdoor festival which takes place in July. This allows Certain Blacks to showcase work from a range of diverse artists and artforms including international jazz, dance, live arts, theatre and circus. The aim of Certain Blacks is to support artists from all areas taking diverse work as we say: “from the margins to the mainstream”.
How did you go about curating the festival?
This is the culmination of work over the past two years. We develop long-term partnerships with artists to help support their work. For example, How to Build a Universe has been supported by a commission from Certain Blacks to get the new work made and support its national tour. Katalyst Conversation builds on Certain Blacks association with past members of Art Ensemble of Chicago who wrote and played on the classic Album “Certain Blacks”
The afternoon of live art performance with Bold Mellon Collective and The Psyber Giantess builds on new commissions we gave the artist for our summer festival and the day will include a panel discussion on issues of diversity, inclusion and identity. Our work with Hannah Finn’s Chochma has taken place over the past 6 months and is an important show for us. It tells of her grandmother’s intuition over the coming European war and taking her family to migrate in a time of danger. Mama Afrika is a show we have supported, and which is now on national tour.
And what do you think will be the biggest challenge in staging this festival?
The biggest challenge for the festival is finding the right way to support a diverse range of artists. However, this is the way Certain Blacks works and it’s been an exciting challenge to have!!
What would you say to anyone thinking of visiting Soul on Ice Festival?
Book early!! Shows such as Cocoa Butter Club and Katalsyt are going fast so it is a great idea to get tickets now.