Purple-People who Dance Barefoot - is a one-man theater play that takes audiences on a journey through the gritty streets of Watts, California in the 1970s. The play follows the story of a young boy growing up in a neighborhood surrounded by bookie joints, street gangs, and a rich black culture. Through a series of personal anecdotes and powerful performances, the play explores themes of identity, community, trauma, mental-health and the resilience of the human spirit. The play is set against the backdrop of a vibrant, loving, dangerous neighborhood and its residents. The audience will be taken on a journey through the streets, alleyways, and back porches of Watts, where they will experience the sights, sounds, and smells of the neighborhood.
The play is performed by MrFood4Thought, who embodies multiple characters throughout the performance, bringing to life the diverse community of Watts. MrFood4Thought will also be accompanied by a buck-tooth organ, a unique instrument that adds to the play's nostalgic and authentic atmosphere. Overall, "Purple People who Dance Barefoot” to a Buck-Tooth Organ is a compelling and thought-provoking play that offers a glimpse into a pivotal moment in American history. It tells a powerful story of a community that faced incredible challenges and yet managed to come together to overcome them. The performance is sure to leave a lasting impression on its audience and spark important conversations about the issues it raises.
The festival runs April 21 through May 7 and is a series of dynamic one-person theatrical performances amplifying the unique voice of each featured artist. The festival delivers thought-provoking storytelling through a variety of genres such as poetry, comedy, and hip-hop theatre: Following a sold-out inaugural run, Solo Fest is back by popular demand with an expanded lineup featuring more performers and more dates. Glendale Arts, in partnership with Lifechild, presents encore performances from Ernie Silva, Ruthy Otero, and Eternal Mind, alongside new shows from Oshea “MrFood4Thought” Luja and Lydia Nicole.
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SEE YOU AT THE SHOW
"My art explores the reflection the struggle see’s when gazing into a body of water, the face of the people, the sky, the birds, and the crooked smile on the clouds. I am this, and much more, and my work aims to express why!"
- Oshea Luja
"His words leap from the pages and empowers all who reads them, a royal feast of words served by one of America's finest poets."
-Father Amde Hamilton
of The Watts Prophets
Oshea Luja - MrFood4Thought - Mini Bio
Oshea Luja MrFood4Thought
Oshea Luja is the Artistic Director of StillWaters Network, Producer of the StillWaters Experience, and co-founder of the literacy-focused StillWaters Writers Workshop. He is a celebrated poet and producer, and has received numerous accolades, including the 2015 and 2017 Village Award from the Villagers Hall of Fame Awards Foundation.
Oshea, artistically known as MrFood4Thought, is a talented visual, musical, and literary artist who has showcased his work on a global stage for over two decades. He has an impressive portfolio of directing and producing stage plays, including "Time with The Masters of Rhyme" featuring the Watts Prophet and the Last Poet, "Smoke" written by Ernie De Silva, and "Big City Bright Lights," which he co-produced, directed, and starred in. Currently, he is touring with the theater production "The Fertile River," written by Vincent Terrell-Durham and produced by Alton Patton.
Oshea has also made his mark as a documentary filmmaker, director, and producer. His notable works in this field include producing the film "A School Grows in Watts," as well as writing and directing "MAFUNDI." The latter tells the story of a historic building in Watts, California that was the birthplace of some of the world's greatest artists and musicians. The film documents the city of Los Angeles' attempt to demolish the building for "more" housing, and sheds light on the rich cultural heritage that is at risk of being lost.
Oshea is known as the "prince of poetry," a title bestowed upon him by the Late, great, Leimert Park Poet Dee Black, thanks to his extremely potent spoken word delivery, which is like an iron fist inside a silk glove. As a poet, he has been a longtime member of The Anansi Writers' Workshop at the World-Stage in Leimert Park, CA. His first poetry collection, "Royal Feast, A Literary Recipe," pays tribute to his Watts, CA, upbringing. As a teaching artist, Oshea enjoys working with youth and elders, linking generations together to better understand the human experience. He has a special gift of utilizing creative expression to promote the innate greatness that resides in all beings. A native of Watts, CA, Oshea is passionate about reclaiming Watts' storied history through art, culture, and education.
Oshea's writing skills are also impressive. He has written, edited, added an introduction, and co-authored over 20 manuscripts. He is the author of "Royal Feast - A Literary Recipe" and the co-author of "Internal Balance - Would You Marry You?" He has added introductions to other works, such as "Try Walking A Mile N My Socks" by Melanie Luja, "Sounds from the Waters - A Poetry Anthology" by The Still Waters Collective, "Singing Ink - A Poetry Anthology" by The Owls, and "Articulate Scars - Comfortable Silences and Reluctant Tears" by Derek Brown. He is also the co-founder of Still Waters Publishing, a small press based in Los Angeles, CA, that focuses on Poetry, Non-Fiction, and History, particularly works that have an edge to them or are completely distinct from works published by most large commercial presses.
Apart from his creative pursuits, Oshea has also become a soul work practitioner in the fields of spirituality, health, and balance. He has studied under the tutelage of Father Amde of the legendary Watts Prophets, award-winning documentary filmmaker, author, and poet S. Pearl Sharp, and The Grandfather of Rap and acupuncturist Dr. Jalal Mansur Nuriddin of the legendary Last Poets. As a Watts Shaman, Oshea is sought after to facilitate weddings, funerals, rite-of-passage ceremonies, and many other sacred rituals throughout the year. His research and life experiences have cultivated a unique philosophy that celebrates internal balance, suggesting that everyone has the innate ability to experience love inwardly, and the awareness of this actuality triggers an opening to explore love’s trajectory.
Oshea has an impressive body of work that includes several albums such as Full Course Meal (2007), Introducing Lukuma Kwa Luja (2009), The Darker Brother Revisited (2014), and The Love Lock (2015). He has also written theater plays such as Big City, Bright Lights (2012), and contributed to school curriculum through The Still Waters Writers’ Workshop (2010) and The Super-Heru: Activating Your Super-Hero (2011). In addition to these, Oshea has authored several books including Watts Learning Center Anthology (2011), Sounds from the Waters Poetry Anthology (2013), Royal Feast: Poetry, Prose & Short Stories (2015), and Internal Balance - Would You Marry You?
"Such a gifted individual, his voice needs to be heard... I personally believe he is a genius with words".
Musician / Educator
• Depth of knowledge regarding cultural strengths, resources, history/traditions, organizations, leaders and perspectives, including familiarity with deeply rooted local community organizations and historical landmarks
• Depth of knowledge of key historical and contemporary cultural community-based leaders, organizations and landmarks and strategies for exploring and investigating the community to understand history, perspectives, possibilities and solutions
• Expertise in designing and carrying out authentic projects representing the Watts Community, including producing The 50th Golden Anniversary of the Watts Writers Workshop in collaboration with Cal-State University of Dominguez Hills, and co-producing the Watts Rebellion 50th Anniversary in collaboration with Ant Marshall (The Lyricist Lounge) and Grand Performances in Downtown Los Angeles.
• Co-Founder of Still Waters Publishing Press – a small press that publishes 4-5 manuscripts a year and has a staff of professional writers, educators and workshop facilitators. Facilitator of the Doby Boys Youth Program at the Watts Learning Center and has also published an Anthology with authentic WLC student life narratives through poetry. Creator of The Majestic Power Workshop Curriculum, that serves California Charter Schools, Private Institutions and The Los Angeles County Public Libraries.
• Expertise in authentic use of digital, visual and arts as media for expression in conjunction with oral and written language development across genres (expository research, poetry, narrative) and for varying audiences and purposes.