Long Beach Opera To Host Community Conversations

By Nicole Kuchta

Long Beach Opera will be hosting a set of five free community programs in a series called “Community Conversations,” inspired by LBO’s 40th anniversary season theme of Justice. The series compliments two current LBO productions: Philip Glass’s “In the Penal Colony,” and Anthony Davis’s “The Central Park Five.”

The program “will feature keynote speakers, panel discussions, live performances…and audience engagement opportunities through question-and-answer talkbacks.”

Conversation #1: “Dismantling Racism as a Community,” led by bass-baritone Dr. Derrell Acon, will be held on Feb. 9 in the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library. Panelists include Katie Balderas and Audrena Redmond, among others, and the discussion will be moderated by Dr. Sabrina Sanders.

Conversation #2: “Equity and Diversity in the Arts” features speaker Dr. Naomi Andre, author of “Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement.” Moderated by Tasha Hunter, the event will take place on Mar. 10 at the Museum of Latin American Art and will focus on representation in the arts.

Conversation #3: “Life Beyond Prison” at the CSULB Studio Theatre on Apr. 30 will consist of a discussion on the experiences of formerly incarcerated persons and their future pursuits. Speakers hail from The Rising Scholars Justice Lab at California State University Long Beach. Panelists also include Jasmin Harris and CIP exonerees, and the discussion will be moderated by Isaac Brown.

Conversation #4: “Guilty Until Proven Innocent” will feature speaker Gary Tyler, and conversation will center on racism and discrimination in the American criminal justice system. Held at Long Beach City College’s Dyer Hall, Carl Kemp will speak, Kimmy Maniquis will moderate, and cast members from “The Central Park Five” will perform.

Conversation #5: “Black Lives, the Arts, and Mattering” will be led by composer of “The Central Park Five” Anthony Davis at the Long Beach City Council Chamber, and will examine the role of the arts and African Americans in social activism. Panelists include Rex Richardson, Marcina Riley, and others, and Chris Anthony will moderate.