Rashida Forman-Bey ’19
She is Rashida Forman-Bey ’19, Urban Arts Theater alum, and she is also Mama Rashida, a creative advocate for societal transformation. Rashida is one of the founding directors of WombWork Productions, Inc., a Baltimore-based social change theatre company. Under both names, Rashida uses her organization and artistic talents to tackle relevant social issues endemic throughout the world. “We provide live community theatre to those who do not have access to live theatre. We present in schools and after school performance art programs throughout the state,” explained Rashida.
Rashida firmly believes that creativity is essential for survival. She defined it as, “the virtue we all possess. It is that inner sense of wonder and awe that sparks your imagination to create and give birth to something wonderful that can impact and positively change the world.” There is also power in the arts to heal and transform our community. “In my work, I bring together community, stories, factual information, theatre, dance, music, culture, healing, and spirit to create arts programming and productions that inspire social change.” As a result of her labor, Rashida has witnessed young people who started out as voiceless closed buds, and through theatre were able to find themselves, their voices and blossom into the knowledge of who they really are. “There is power in being heard.”
In addition to her theater work, Rashida is a Community Arts Fellow at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). “I was awarded the fellowship because of my work in the arts and the community. It was based on my years of experience as an activist and artist, and for my years of work with social justice theatre through WombWork Productions, Inc.” As a Community Arts Fellow, Rashida spends 20 hours per week with various departments, offices and programs of MICA to help “build relationships, craft workshops, provide training, lend expertise, consult on program curriculum design, mentor students and connect MICA to Baltimore-based community organizations, artists and other practitioners focusing on diversity, equity, inclusion and globalization.” She was also awarded a merit scholarship from Community Arts MFA Top Candidate Scholarship.
One of Rashida’s future plans includes continuing to direct meaningful theatrical productions while educating and nurturing the next generation of community artists. She also wants to teach on the university level and to help give back all that was given to her. “It is my duty to pass on what I have learned from years of experience to the next generation of community artists. I would be so honored to help to shape and mold the generation of teaching and performing artists.” She is currently a teaching artist and Professional Development Facilitator with Young Audiences of Maryland.
When asked what advice she would give to Coppin’s current students, Rashida responded, “I was 60 years old when I graduated; and it is never too late. The universe is overflowing with abundant blessings of joy. There is one with your name on it. See it, believe it and go on achieve it.”