Awardee: Ellen Sebastian Chang

Performing Arts, 2016

Ellen Sebastian Chang is a director, writer and serves as a creative consultant for the Zellerbach Family Fund’s Performing Arts Assistance Program. Ms. Sebastian Chang was cofounder and artistic director of LIFE ON THE WATER, a national and internationally known presenting and producing organization at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center from 1986 through 1995. In 2015 she collaborated with Oakland/LA artist Maya Gurantz to create “A Hole in Space (Oakland Redux) voted “Best Underground Public Art Project”. She was the Consulting Producer for HBO’s “Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley.” Her 1982 directorial/ writing debut “Your Place Is No Longer With Us” created in a Victorian mansion, served to the audience a meal of black-eyed peas, mustard greens and corn bread at the performance’s end. She has directed and collaborated with Gamelan Sekar Jaya, kaoticgood, Youth Speaks, Oakland Opera Theater and KITKA. She owns and operates FuseBOX Restaurant in West Oakland.

Project: HouseFull

HouseFull is a site-specific dance-theater piece addressing issues facing women of color in Oakland, CA. Over the course of an 18-month creation process, the artistic team will gather stories and information to create a series of short episodes. The episodes, performed in various public sites throughout Oakland, will shed light on both the troubling issues of sex trafficking and the rampant displacement of long-time residents. These short episodes will inform the final evening-length performance inside a house in Oakland. The house, in this case, serves as a literal and metaphorical site for the complex realities that women experience in a patriarchal society; their stories—like many rooms in a home—continue to be unseen or hidden from view. Weaving together dance, music, visual art, spiritual rituals and personal narratives, HouseFull asks, what happens when we lose our mothers’ homes?