The show was created "when several of the country's most respected and talented spoken word artists came together under the direction of Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj in New York and created original pieces that explored contemporary themes affecting young people today, including self-image, family and religion, and related them to the inspirational speeches of historical figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Ghandi, Walt Whitman, Sojourner Truth, Muhammad Ali and William Shakespeare."
History of the Word was developed in workshop based on internationally-known writings as well as writings of children. Its run in New Brunswick, NJ , is produced in association with producers who hope to take the show to a Manhattan venue this season.
"With a DJ and a Drummer, History of the Word follows the lives of six struggling students during a single day," according to www.historyoftheword.com. "Innovative and heart pumping, History is an infusion of hip-hop, spoken word and live theatre. Our history, our lives, our language . . . explore, experience, enjoy."
The show was co-conceived by Orin Wolf and Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj and written by Ben Snyder (the text is based on the poetry of Felice Belle, Akil Dasan, Marisa Vural, Kayo, Yolanda Wilkinson). Maharaj directs and choreographs.
The cast includes Utkarsh Ambudkar, Akil Dasan, James DeLeon, Jed Dickson, Britton Jones, Angela Kariotis and Angela Lewis with a DJ, Kheedim Oh, and drummer Arthur Toombs. Designers are Leslie Bernstein (costume), Matthew Myhrum (sets and projections) and Dana Sterling (lights).
The production is presented by Orin Wolf, Tara Fishman, Nick Petrie in association with York Theatre and Youth Speaks and Crossroads Theatre Company.
Billed as "a new hip-hop musical," it "follows the lives of six high school students learning to navigate a world filled with dreams, fears and a constant need to be accepted. These stories are based on the real life experiences of five of our country's most talented spoken word poets making History of the Word, A Chorus Line for the hip-hop generation. By exploring the relationship between our history, our lives and our language, History of the Word challenges these students (and all students) to step up to the mic, find their voice and celebrate their diversity."
Crossroads Theatre is at 7 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ. Tickets are $30-$45. For ticket reservations and information please call (732) 545-8100. Performances play Wednesday-Saturday at 8 PM; Sunday at 3 PM.
Crossroads Theatre Company, the Tony Award-honored African-American theatre of New Brunswick, New Jersey announced three productions of a planned four-play 2004-05 season.
Founding artistic director Ricardo Khan is back at the helm following several years of financial uncertainty for the troupe devoted to black voices. Two of the four productions will be world premieres (including an Ella Fitzgerald musical directed by Maurice Hines), plus a classic comedy from the Caribbean.
Ricardo Khan is returning as Crossroads artistic director. In a statement, he said, "For 2004-2005, I've had more time since returning one year ago to focus on the development of these plays and the messages in each and of the season. I'm excited to bring them to the Crossroads stage, because they highlight the extraordinary talents of a culturally diverse world of voices new to most of us in American theatre."
Crossroads received the 1999 Tony Honor for Regional Theatre.