Tinitha “Da Black Pearll” Warren has switched gears. She reigned quite a while as one of the true queens of Twin Cities spoken word, along with the likes of Sha Cage and a few others, reaching something of a peak with The Nucleus, a book of powerhouse poetry.
Unlike far too many people with a penchant for hopping up on a
soapbox at every open mic they manage — holding forth with more attitude than acumen — Warren is a genuinely gifted wordsmith who readily translates from the stage to the page.
Consider from The Nucleus, “What’s In Your Garden,” about the all-important issue for young girls, self-esteem: “Fascinated with bling-bling/because they don’t think they shine inside/All jokes aside/they have forgotten how to be little girls/They bear the weight of the world/and it’s dealt them an unrealistic fantasy/selling their souls to hell, bidding their innocence farewell.”
Homegirl still has hellified chops and has kept her hand in performing. In 2013, she placed third in SLAMN’s Erotic Poetry Slam in 2014, and competed in Women of the World National Poetry Slam in Austin, Texas.
Warren has, however, simply taken more to being behind the scenes these days. For instance, also in 2014, she adapted Frank Baum’s immortal classic The Wizard of Oz for Whittier International Elementary Scho ol, bringing her own urban sensibility to the story. She’s at it again this month for an adaptation at Whittier School of Rudyard Kipling’s famous collection of Indian fables, The Jungle Book.
What, one might well wonder, prompted the transition? Warren readily states, “I was looking for a way to incorporate my love for arts in with children. I have been working at Whittier for the past three years as a Minneapolis employee. Whittier used to be a school of the arts when the new building opened in ‘98 or ’99 — I’m not sure [which]. But the arts were traded for [an International Baccalaureate] (IB) curriculum and…with both being valuable, I figured we should have both.”
Warren utilizes theater to help further the school’s mission, which according to the website is to: “Encourage exploration, inquiry and critical thinking; provide integrated learning opportunities; promote local and global action; respect cultural similarities and differences.”
“I tweak the plays to place emphasis on IB attitudes and the attributes of IB, because it teaches students to become global thinkers and embraces natural inquiry. I wanted to show the kids that it’s in everything around them. So, that’s the reason for the plays.”
She says of the upcoming production, “Jungle Book has been fun putting together because we are the Whittier wolves, and Mowgli is raised by a pack of wolves, goes to Whittier school and doesn’t feel like he fits in. He felt he learned everything in the jungle and the kids let him know IB attributes fit in both worlds.”
She sums up, “It’s a lot of fun. I’m directing and have co-directors this year, Kamille Wells and Mercedes Reynolds, two teachers at Whittier with…a passion for children and learning.”
Jungle Book takes place at Whittier International Elementary School, 315 West 26 Street in Minneapolis May 14 and May 15. A dinner proceeds the May 15 performance at 5:30 pm, with music and a silent auction at 6:30 pm. The Jungle Book performance starts at 7 pm both evenings. Tickets are $5. Contact Jeff Carlson or Beth Mason at 612-668-4181 for more info.