|Tommy Bottoms, Playwright|
The storyline updates Black Arts movement concepts with a Web 2.0 twist, and provides a slick platform for Dr. Ugly to provide a history lesson for the Crack generation, one that will never appear in any history textbook. Waxing poetic on subjects including the destruction of the Black family, the legalization of drugs, the economy fueling the prison system, and the media's reappropriation of the Black male image, Bottoms uses comedy as counterbalance to play out Dr. Ugly's well-intentioned aim of awakening Raekwon and Jazmin to consciousness, to see themselves in the context of Black struggle in a way that will ultimately uplift and transform their people.
The spoken word numbers, which range from a cappella solo pieces to musical group poems backed by the complementary CJ Baker Band, are woven nearly seamlessly into the fabric of the dialogue, so much so that you're sometimes transported halfway into a poem before you realize it. While I was familiar with some of the material from the cast's individual spoken word repertoires, the poems were integrated so well into the dialogue that they seemed to emerge organically from the play's text.
|Red Summer, Director|
The cast carries the torch originally lit by African griots, passed on through the poets of the Black Arts movement, dropping science in the tradition of the best Golden Age era Hip-Hop artists—Public Enemy, Poor Righteous Teachers, and KRS1. This is edutainment at its finest.
Starring: Malik Salaam, Tamika Harper, Tommy Bottoms, Derrick Abyss Graham, Theresa Tha Songbird, and Cola Rum
*This review was of the world premiere performance on 8 Feb 2014 at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts Center in Decatur, GA.