Tag Archives: erin x smithers

Hype Man: A Break Beat Play, At The Wilbury Theatre: Timely,Urgent, So Worth The Hype, I Saw It Twice

26 Nov

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Hype Man Wilbury Theatre

Hype Man actors, l to r, Phoenyx Williams, Jeff Hodge, Helena Tafuri, (photo credit: Erin X. Smithers)

I knew I wanted to see Hype Man: A Break Beat Play as soon as I heard about its November run at The Wilbury Theatre Group in Providence. And after seeing the play, I knew I had to write about Hype Man’s timely theme of race, police brutality, and the impact it has on the relationship of the play’s three characters: Pinnacle, the white rapper, played by Jeff Hodge,Verb, Pinnacle’s Hype Man, who is black, and is played by Phoenyx Williams, and Peep One, the woman who creates the group’s beats, played by Helena Tafuri. The play written by break beat poet and playwright, Idris Goodwin, was expertly directed by Don Mays, who allowed each actor to shine in their respective roles.

Verb and Pinnacle grew up together, the best of friends, and bonded further through music, and the formation of their own hip-hop group. Peep is a newer addition to the group, but is vitally important with her attention-grabbing beats. The entire play takes place in the group’s rehearsal studio–save one time the set doubles as a television stage–the spare set consisting of an elevated round platform fitted with a mixing table, a stool, and a microphone. I learned from the play’s director, Don Mays, that the tri-colored, at times overlapping, voice patterns painted on the black walls behind the set, represent the three recorded voice patterns of the actors.

In the opening scene of this one-act play, Verb enters and begins fumbling with the sound system. Pinnacle sneaks up on him, and after a good laugh, and greeting one another with a hug, we learn Verb is just returning to the group after a month-long hiatus for therapy, for what Pinnacle later calls Verb’s “wild behavior.” Peep enters in a rush, and apologizes for being late for rehearsal, sharing there was a police shooting by the highway that slowed her arrival. Verb, looking at his phone, reads that police shot a young black male, 17, named Jerrod. Peep picks up her phone and reads that Jerrod had just gotten the news that his grandmother had taken a turn for the worse in the hospital and was rushing to get to her before it was too late. He was unarmed. He was shot with his hands up while running away from officers.

Sound familiar? It is in this moment we, the audience, are about to witness […]

A Tip Of The Hat And A Fist Raise To All The Anti-Racism Activists Past, Present, and Future

23 Dec

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light-brown-raised-fistI want to give major props to all the activists out there fighting the good fight. The good, hard, exhausting, frustrating, dangerous fight against racism. Personal racism. Systemic racism. Institutional racism. Jim Crow racism. The New Jim Crow racism. And every other kind of anti-Black racism in-between.

See, I’m like a baby taking its first steps when it comes to learning what it means to organize, to march, to protest, to take concrete political action to fight against racism.  Before this year, the only two things I could put on my activist’s resume was […]

Sadly, A Still Timely Encore: The Every 28 Hours Plays and Community Response Plays at Trinity Repertory Company

20 Oct

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Every 28 Hours PlaysIt didn’t matter to me that I had already seen The Every 28 Hours Plays at Trinity Repertory Company last October.  I wanted to see them again.

Trinity Rep actor, Joe Wilson, Jr., was one of a group of fifty actors, playwrights, artists and activists invited to be part of the non-profit organization, The One-Minute Play Festival’s, Every 28 Hours Plays project. All fifty went to Ferguson, Missouri a year after the young, unarmed, black teen, Mike Brown was killed by a white police officer , and met with […]

Trinity Repertory Company Performs Every 28 Hours, A One-Minute Play Festival

29 Oct

One-Minute Play Festival, Every 28 Hours

Every 28 Hours

I witnessed a historic theatrical event Monday night–the world premiere of the One-Minute Play Festival’s Every 28 Hours at Trinity Repertory Company here in Providence.

The One-Minute Play Festival is a theater company out of New York City that produces one-minute plays which aim to tell a neighborhood’s story through community engagement.  Every 28 Hours is the current festival theme, and is based on the events surrounding the killing of Michael Brown, a black teenager, by a white police officer in the summer of 2014 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Every 28 Hours stands for […]