Rhodessa Jones

Rhodessa Jones

Rhodessa Jones is Co-Artistic Director of the San Francisco acclaimed performance company Cultural Odyssey. She is an actress, teacher, singer, and writer. Ms. Jones is also the Director of the award winning Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women, which is a performance workshop that is designed to achieve personal and social transformation with incarcerated women. On May 16, 2014 Rhodessa was the Keynote Speaker for Graduation Commencement, Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies University of California, Berkeley. Ms. Jones was just recently the Spring 2014 Interdisciplinary Artist in Residence for the College of Letters and Science and the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Beginning in 2015 Rhodessa will be a Visiting Professor at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California. During January 2014 Rhodessa traveled to New York City to the PUBLIC THEATER to direct BLESSING THE BOATS: THE REMIX, Sekou Sundiata’s acclaimed solo theater work. Other directing credits include the upcoming new play Lost in Language by the renowned NTOZAKE SHANGE; the 2007 production of Lysistrata, produced by the African American Shakespeare Company; Eve Ensler’s Any One of Us, VDAY: Until the Violence Stops Festival, Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York; and Will Power's The Gathering.

In 2013 The Office of Mayor Edwin M. Lee and the San Francisco Art Commission presented the Mayor's Art Award to Rhodessa Jones, for her lifetime of artistic achievement and enduring commitment to the role of the arts in civic life. The SF Weekly Magazine recently proclaimed Rhodessa as San Francisco’s Best Artist-Activist Working with Prisoners. In June 2012 the U.S. Department of State, Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau selected Rhodessa as an ARTS ENVOY! As one of San Francisco’s most revered artists she received grant support to journey to South Africa to continue her work inside the Naturena Women's Prison in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 2007 Rhodessa conducted her first U.S. Department of State Speakers Tour of Russia where she conducted performances and workshops at University of Moscow, the American Center, and University of Rayzen. In December of 2007 Ms. Jones received a United States Artist Fellowship to support her work.

Ms. Jones was honored with an Honorary Doctorate from California College of the Arts in 2004. Rhodessa has received many awards for her work including a Sui Generis Foundation Award in 2014, GOLDIE Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the San Francisco Bay Guardian in 2003, an Otto Rene Castillo Award for Political Theater in 2002, and a San Francisco Foundation Community Leadership Award commending her for developing the Medea Project as "an intersection of art, politics and social rehabilitation". In June 2001, her film collaboration We Just Telling Stories, a film profiling Ms. Jones and her work with the Medea Project in the San Francisco County jails, won Best Documentary at the San Francisco Black Film Festival.

Rhodessa’s work has been published in a new book entitled, Solo/Black/Woman: Performing Global Traditions and Local Intervention featuring a chapter devoted to Rhodessa’s landmark play, Big Butt Girls, Hard-Headed Women . Other publications include A Beginner’s Guide to Community - Based Arts ; Colored Contradictions An Anthology of Contemporary African American Plays ; and Let’s Get It On: The Politics of Black Performance . Her work with incarcerated women is the subject a book by Rena Fraden titled Imagining Medea: Rhodessa Jones and Theater for Incarcerated Women. Most recently, The Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care have published Rhodessa’s work with the Medea Project’s HIV Circle titled An expressive therapy group disclosure intervention for HIV-positive women: a qualitative analysis. Other scholarly works include Deep in the Night in the Journal of Medical Humanities; Staging Migrations Toward an American West: From Ida B. Wells to Rhodessa Jones by Marta Effinger; Rhodessa Jones, Teacher in Women’s Jails, in Conversations with Great Teachers by Bill Smoot. In addition, a new film has been released charting and legacy of Rhodessa’s work with HIV positive women entitled, Talk Back Live, by Japanese filmmaker, Kaori Sakagami. It is currently receiving worldwide distribution. 

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