The Tenderloin Museum and Flyaway Productions are proud to announce the world premiere of TENDER (n.): A PERSON WHO TAKES CHARGE, a site-specific aerial dance celebrating 100 years of “outcast activism” in the Tenderloin. Tender runs June 7 – 16 at the Cadillac Hotel, located at 380 Eddy Street, with performances at 8:30 pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Matinee performances at 12:30 pm will take place on Friday, June 8 and 15. Two additional performances at 9:30 pm will take place on Saturday, June 9 and 16. All performances are free, as is admission to the Tenderloin Museum, located on the ground floor of the Cadillac Hotel, during each performance.
“Tender celebrates the outcasts who, defying convention, have served as activists in pursuit of a desirable place to live and thrive,” said Flyaway Artistic Director Jo Kreiter. “In the words of Randy Shaw, founder of the Tenderloin Museum and the Tenderloin Housing Clinic:
“’Those fighting to prevent powerful interests from transforming the Tenderloin have included prostitutes, madams, gamblers, SRO [single room occupancy] tenants, seniors, transgender women, gay rights activists, welfare recipients, disabled persons and Southeast Asian refugees. It’s hard to believe that these constituencies could overcome daily newspapers, real estate investors, public officials and San Francisco’s social and economic elite to preserve the affordability of an area adjacent to high-priced Union Square—but they did.’”
In Tender, Kreiter distills a century of San Francisco’s history into four parts, each representing a new wave of activism in the Tenderloin. Those parts include “Nine Ladies Dancing,” spotlighting the young, single, working women who moved into the neighborhood in the early 1900s when the city was still overwhelmingly populated by men, and who fought against the city’s morality campaign to criminalize their freedom to move in public.
“The Queen’s Wave” chronicles the Tenderloin’s transgender activism in the 1960s, including the Compton's Cafeteria Riot, a revolt pre-dating the Stonewall Riots. The Tenderloin served as a landing pad for refugees from U.S. wars in Southeast Asia, and “This Boat” honors the activism of the Vietnamese leaders who fought for immigrant rights in housing, healthcare, education and public safety beginning in the 1970s.
Finally, “Kathy’s Dance” honors Kathy Looper, who together with her late husband Leroy Looper, purchased the Cadillac Hotel in 1976. “Kathy’s Dance” features oral histories of several residents of the SRO, the first nonprofit of its kind dedicated to low-income housing for people in recovery.
Tender features a cast of seven performers: Bianca Cabrera, Laura Elaine Ellis, Sonsherée Giles, MaryStarr Hope, Yayoi Kambara, Megan Lowe and, in her Flyaway debut, drag artist and singer Honey Mahogany.
Kreiter serves as choreographer and director, and she commissioned an original score from Emmy Award-winning composer Vân-Ánh Võ, who also goes by the stage name Vanessa Vo. Võ, who lives and works in the Bay Area, is known for her work on Vietnamese traditional instruments especially the zither.
Additional members of the creative team include longtime Flyaway collaborator, Sean Riley, who serves as set and rigging designer; lighting designer David Robertson; and costume designer Jamielyn Duggan.
Tender is Kreiter’s sixth major work in the Tenderloin within the past decade. Last year she mounted The Right to Be Believed, a work about women’s historic lack of credibility in cases of gender-based harassment or sexual violence. In 2016 she completed a trilogy of works exploring the place of urban poverty at the center of enormous wealth production.
“The Tenderloin is ground zero for the deepest of American contradictions seen in my lifetime: the widening wealth gap,” said Kreiter. “This contradiction draws me in, as does the sense of community that persists in the Tenderloin.”
Inspired by Randy Shaw’s call to bring “positive foot traffic” into the Tenderloin, Kreiter has partnered with a number of community nonprofits in a summer-long effort that expands the work of Tender. In addition to the Tenderloin Museum, those partners include Code Tenderloin, a workforce development program; the Asian Art Museum; Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center; and CounterPulse.
CounterPulse will host Flyaway Productions’ GIRLFLY program, July 9 – August 2, 2018, a dance and activism apprenticeship for low-income teenage girls. The program will continue Tender’s focus on outcast activism in the Tenderloin, and participants will conduct their own oral history project emphasizing current youth activists.
Other events include a lecture-demonstration by Võ and Kreiter hosted by the Asian Art Museum on May 6 at 1 pm, a reception for the Vietnamese community with Võ at the Tenderloin Museum at 3:30 pm, a “Curbside Conversation” with the artists at the Tenderloin Museum on May 24 and 31 at 5 pm, and a History Walking Tour starting at the Asian Art Museum on June 14 at 7:15 pm For more information about these events, visit flyawayproductions.com.
The world premiere of TENDER (n.): a person who takes charge is made possible by support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council Creative California Communities Program, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation and Flyaway’s generous individual donors.