What is a Hip-Hop Dramaturg?
By taking a hiphop approach to the dramaturgy, I create a path for a production to reach as many people as possible, not just the intended target audience. This is done by combining the five elements of hiphop (Lyrics, DJing, B-boy/b-girling, Graffiti, & Knowledge) to a script, making it more inclusive than the playwright likely even intended. This does not mean your pre-show music will be full of Rapsody, Ice Cube, and Migos (although that would be a dope show), instead hiphop implies an aggressive approach to taking a message from its source to as many people as possible in as many ways as can be imagined. Hiphop is the most inclusive art form and applying it to theatre makes a production even more inclusive, honing in on those parts of a script and past productions that may have been underutilized or overlooked. And these elements are already in place and active in the theatre.
How does it work?
- The MCs are the actors, speaking and performing the message in a way that elevates the text the same way rappers do lyrics.
- DJs are represented through playwrights constantly highlighting issues that continually fall through the cracks.
- B-boys/girls/folx can be seen in social “movements” such as Pride, #metoo, and Black Lives Matter, and the climate crisis. Theatre may not immediately come to mind when one thinks of these movements, but it is impossible for true theatre to exist without them. *It is important that creating theatre, even a comedy, without deeply considering inclusiveness is dangerous and threatening to humanity.
- Graffiti is displayed theatrically through the use of outreach and lobby displays.
- Knowledge presents itself in the form of asking ‘Why This Play Now?’ bridging the world of the play with the real-time present.
In less than 40 years, hiphop went from being exclusively accepted by a small community in the Bronx to becoming the most popular and influential genre of music in the history of the planet. When you have political leaders in Hong Kong and Chile using hiphop as a way to reach and connect with citizens under the age of 30, it’s a wonder that U.S. theatres haven’t adapted to this yet. But it is not a wonder that this refusal to evolve is directly connected to the decline of attendance numbers. Hate Lil Wayne all you want, but he’s known worldwide throughout all socioeconomic groups because people are drawn to his words and music. On the other hand, your boys Chekov and Shakespeare only have their works known by a small few which would be great if you wanted their message to remain on a miniscule level compared to what it could be. Oh, and that’s when you assign students to read their works and are allowed to perform Shakespeare for free. Last I checked, people weren’t being assigned to study Cardi B, Kendrick Lamar, or Beyonce’ and they still memorize the lyrics to “Bow Down” easier than learning the synopsi of The Cherry Orchard and King Lear .
Being a hiphop dramaturg has equipped me with a level of understanding how to connect to multiple diverse aspects in order to address multiple issues simultaneously. Did you know there is a direct connection of Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman and Public Enemy’s Fear of A Black Planet, thereby connecting the effects of the Great Depression to discriminatory redlining practices and the congressional passing of xenophobic laws? You would have if there was a hiphop dramaturg to connect those dots for you. Did you know that there is a direct thematic connection between Paula Vogel’s Baltimore Waltz and Arrested Development’s Zingalamaduni exploring the intersection of the AIDS crisis and self-empowerment? If the answer is no, you now know who you need to come to your rescue.
(Digital and In-Person Available)
- Dramaturgical website
- V-File (or Visual File)
- Initial Response
- Audience Engagement Plan
- Season Selection
- Lobby Display
- Program Materials
- Educational Guides
- Guided Post-Show Discussions
- Classroom Visits
Why hire me?
Real talk. The world is changing and becoming more inclusive by the second. The idea of the elite artists and the theatrical cannon being predominantly white is rapidly changing faster than Lafeyette’s verse on “Guns and Ships.” Hiphop and its mentality is only going to keep growing so everyone had better learn to adapt and go with the flow or risk looking like the same narrow-minded people who want to hold tight to racist relics that perpetuate an inaccurate past.
- Visual File for The Book Club Play
- Villanova Theatre Educational Guide for The Book Club Play
- Lobby Display for The Book Club Play
- Visual File for Othello (Academic Project)