Pomo Afro Homos

What the National Performance Network has Meant to Pomo Afro Homos

by Brian Freeman

Brian Freeman was a founding member of the Pomo Afro Homos, a seminal black gay male ensemble which became a regular on the NPN circuit during the early 1990s. “Our going to Dance Theatre Workshop under an NPN contract was huge…after all, who doesn’t want to play in New York? It was absolutely fantastic to be invited to do a week’s run there!”

The exposure in New York led to numerous other performances, including a slot at Lincoln Center’s Serious Fun Festival. Freeman remembers that the show played very well there, and while it didn’t receive a New York Times review, it did get covered by alternative papers like the Village Voice, “which was really more appropriate to our audiences.” The run generated a lot of writings about the Pomos, which contributed to their visibility and “buzz.”

Using the standard NPN contract was very important to the Pomos because it gave the small ensemble an established fee, covered their expense and guaranteed them a base rate. “After all, who knew what the going rate was for performance art? It’s one thing for solo shows to tour, but for small ensembles to tour, it’s different.” Freeman recalls that as the Pomos toured the country, they used the NPN contract format, even when the sites weren’t NPN Partners: it was very useful to be able to say, “this is what we charge. It was a solid base for negotiation.”

The Pomo Afro Homos stopped touring in 1995, but they are remembered for their break-through treatment of the queer black male experience, told with humor, passion and uncompromising honesty. One of their best-known pieces was Fierce Love, which is one of five pieces to be re-mounted, with a new cast, and re-premiered in celebration of NPN’s 25th Anniversary during the Annual Meeting in Dallas in December 2010. More information about NPN Re-Creation project will be featured in next month’s issue.

Brian Freeman is a director, performer, playwright, and a former member of NPN’s Board of Directors.

Published March 2010

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