MISSION AND HISTORY
The Roots and Wings Project believes in the power of the past and future to ignite the present, standing strong in roots with vision in wings. The Roots and Wings Project is a politically charged, socially transformative theatre company that brings attention to truth and provides stage and space for stories of the unnamed, unspoken and misunderstood through theatrical innovation and multi-media collaboration. Fusing traditional theatre with hip-hop, poetry, music and visual art, the company unites a wide range of artists and audiences from different communities around the world.
Since its inception, The Roots and Wings Project has performed with such venues as Los Angeles’ CASA 0101 Theatre, Theater of Note, Lincoln Heights Jail, S.P.A.R.C. @ The Old Jail in Venice, Occidental College, The Rosenthal Theater at Inner-City Arts, UCLA’s Glorya Kaufman Dance Theatre, San Francisco’s Phoenix Theatre and Venue 9, New York City’s Surf Reality, The Last Bookstore and Scotland’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival as well as commissioned writing and performances for both incarcerated and public audiences. The Roots and Wings Project is a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization.
Jesse Bliss (Founder and Artistic Director) is an actress, writer, director, producer, poetess and MC whose works have been produced and performed around the world. Jesse’s writings for the stage include, performed at UCLA in collaboration with dance legend Rennie Harris: Roots and Wings (the play), performed in New York and San Francisco;Between Fingertips performed at Central Juvenile Hall and CASA 0101, and performance appearances at the United Nations on International Women’s Day and the Edinburgh Festival. Her full-length play,Tree of Fire had a site-specific Reading at the Lincoln Heights Jail and an excerpt performance at Los Angeles's Theatre of Note. IGNITE was a fundraiser for Tree of Fire that was held at S.P.A.R.C. @ The Old Jail in Venice. IGNITE featured 20 performers, an excerpt performance of the play, and an art exhibition.
Jesse has performed in The Vagina Monologues and countless other theatrical productions. She has performed in leading roles at CASA 0101 including You Don't Know Me,Hoop Girls,Heart on a Wire and Between Fingertips as well as hosting the CASA 0101 Poetry Slam. Jesse and The Roots and Wings Project hosted the 99 poet event Occupy This! in collaboration with Josefina Lopez (author of Real Women Have Curves) and Casa 0101 in January 2012. Jesse has also worked extensively in radio and independent film.
Jesse is an Arts Education veteran, with extensive experience writing curriculum and teaching Theater and Creative Writing to people of all ages and backgrounds including underserved and incarcerated youth. She works with some of the most prestigious organizations in the nation including Center Theatre Group, The Geffen, Inside OUT Writers, Inner City Arts, & Performing Arts Workshop, among others, and teaches customized workshops to both children and adults under The Roots and Wings Project. Jesse was awarded a Flourish Foundation grant for partnership with J.U.I.C.E. for the Roots and Wings Project Theater Program.
Miss Bliss's site-specific play, Record of Light, had a sold-out run at The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles Fall 2011. Jesse produced and hosted The Boyle Heights Poetry Slam and Art as a Weapon at The Last Bookstore, a Media Literacy Themed Fund Raiser for The Roots and Wings Project Media Literacy workshop intensive. TREE OF FIRE opened on International Women's Day 2013 in Downtown Los Angeles at The Rosenthal Theater at Inner-City Arts, with a reading at Occidental College for Incarceration Awareness Week and is core curriculum for the BA Program at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco accompanied with an excerpt performance and workshop taught by Miss Bliss. Most recently the show toured to University of Santa Cruz. Jesse was a featured artist in the documentaries Kate Crash's "LA Woman" and "Yahoo News' Shine". She is also Co-Producer of KPFK 90.7's THINK OUTSIDE THE CAGE.
Ramona Pilar Gonzales (Social Media Consultant)is a writer/performer and native Californian. She has performed with the Bilingual Foundation for the Arts, Casa 0101, Cornerstone Theater Company, The Denver Center Theater, and East Los Angeles Repertory Theater Company. Her dramatizad essay, Del Plato a la Boca, El Ritmo te Toca, received a grant from La Plaza de Cultura y Artes Foundation. She is a founding member of the theater performance group Tongue in Chíc*ana. She has also written , produced and directed several short plays and films. When not making prose or performing, she works as Social Media Manager for The Roots and Wings Project. Ramona has a B.A. in Film and Cultural Representation from UC Davis and an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles.
Judith Bowman (Producer) was educated at the University of Illinois and Spelman College where she was awarded a BA in English. She holds a JD degree from UCLA School of Law. Ms. Bowman has also studied at the University of Ghana as a graduate exchange student and at Cal State Dominguez Hills in their MA Humanities program.
She has traveled extensively - throughout the United States and England as a child with a career Air Force father, to Cuba with filmmakers and artists, the West Indies, Greek Isles and Athens,Egypt, Cairo and Upper Egypt, Turkey, and by train to Mexico City and Puebla.
She practiced law for sixteen years with eight as Associate Counsel for Sunkist Growers, Inc. She brings that business experience and blends it with her love for the arts and the Humanities to support local organizations that sustain those aspects of our culture. Judith is a seasoned non-profit administrator with over twenty years of experience. She has professional and practical knowledge of actual project management, fund development, strategic planning, board training, special events planning, grassroots organizing, time management, team building, personal consulting, business formation, and grantwriting. Over the years, Judith has personally raised several hundreds of thousands of dollars for youth orientated, social service,veterans, arts, cultural, and community building projects. In addition, she has been a member of fund raising teams for civic events, public festivals, educational programs, and economic development projects.
Edward Espinoza(Associate Producer for "Tree of Fire")was born and raised in Boyle Heights. He established A La Brava Producciones Rev., Inc. (ALB) as a liason group for arts and education, and cultural events in Los Angeles and throughout California. Currently, ALB hosts the annual Cine Sin Fin film festival, which showcases Chicano/Latino cinema that portrays the positive experiences of the underrepresented Chicano/Latino community.
Geoff “Double G” Gallegos(Associate Artist)has a unique and influential voice in the L.A. music scene. His most identifiable role is the co-founder, conductor, composer and musical director of the 70-person daKAH Hip Hop Orchestra.Over the past eleven years, daKAH has successfully integrated elements of hip hop, symphonic, jazz, R&B and Afro-Cuban styles into one cohesivemusical statement.Most recently, daKAH collaborated with the L.A. Opera as part of the Ring Festival L.A. The piece “Gangsta Wagner” combined the sinister elements of Wagner’s RING with West Coast gangsta rap, and was well-received by fans of both styles. GG also leads, composes for, and plays baritone sax in NineNet, a 9-person jazz ensemble that sounds like Mingus’ band playing Stravinsky’s music.In 2009, Montalvo Arts Center presented four of his string quartets,performed by Sonus Quartet.GG has conducted orchestras in major venues around the USA, and has performed in major venues in North America and Europe. As well as the “fine arts” scene, he has also collaborated with commercially successful artists on major recordings, films, TV specials and stage performances.There are many more elements of this career to share, but space does not permit. GG holds a degree in Jazz Composition from Berklee College of Music, and has continued his composition & counterpoint studies independently. Participating in “Tree Of Fire” supports his belief that music can open the hardest of hearts in the darkest of places.
Leon Martell (Associate Artist) is an multiple award winning director, actor, playwright and teacher, having taught playwriting for UCLA Extension for the past 16 years. He was a writer with the Padua Hills Festival for fifteen years and currently writes for the Youth Concert Series for the Los Angeles Philharmonic at The Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. He was a co- founder of the Duck's Breath Mystery Theater, performing with them live on National Public Radio, PBS and a series on FOX television. As a director he has worked everywhere from Carnegie Hall to the Sahara Casino in Las Vegas. He continues to teach playwriting for UCLA Extension, Idyllwild Arts, and WORDSPACE in Los Angeles.
All donations to The Roots and Wings Project are tax deductable. Your monetary and in-kind donations will help defray the costs of our productions, workshops and day-to-day organizational needs ranging from office supplies to website maintenance.
We are in position to move forward with a site-specific production of Tree of Fire in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Our production team is currently developing collaborations with theaters, arts organizations, prison reform groups and others who are passionate about bringing this innovative performance to the public.
We need to raise a bare minimum of $15,000 to cover the production costs of Tree of Fire which includes funding for actors, musicians to finish creating the original score, visual artists, a publicist, and printing.
Your donations will allow us to bring this vision to life.