Special Presentation at the Hip Hop Theater Festival in DC
Word Becomes Flesh is a commission to redevelop Bamuthi’s first landmark work into a multi-player work of theater, with new writing and new direction. In a Re-Creation of Word Becomes Flesh, Youth Speaks Living Word Project gathers Daveed Diggs, Dahlak Brathwaite, Dion Decibels, Khalil Anthony, Mic Turner and B.Yung to present a series of performed letters to an unborn son.
Using poetry, dance and live music, the collective documents nine months of pregnancy from a young, single father’s perspective.
Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Artistic Director
Joan Osato, Producing Director
Written and Directed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph
Written and Performed by Dahlak Brathwaite, Daveed Diggs, Dion Decibels, Khalil Anthony, Michael Turner and B.Yung
Technical Director/Lighting Designer: Haldun Morgan
Production Manager/Stage Manager: Joan Osato
Photography by Bethanie Hines
About Word Becomes Flesh
Word Becomes Flesh is a fluid evening-length choreopoem written in the form of a narrative verse play. Presented as a series of performed letters to his unborn son, the piece uses poetry, dance and live music to document nine months of pregnancy from a young single father’s perspective.
These performed letters incorporate elements of ritual, archetypes, and symbolic sites within the constructs of hip hop culture. Word Becomes Flesh evolves the realm of spoken word and realizes the form’s theatrical potential as the poet/dancer cogently presents the complex contradictions involved in race, using the stage as an open page, and deftly writing the body as text.
While women continue to fight for their right to make choices about their bodies, the legacy of patriarchy and male privilege still allow a man the social right to choose domestic absenteeism and refrain from offering either emotional or financial support.
Word Becomes Flesh critically, lyrically, and choreographically examines this phenomenon. In the process we confront the intersection of the physical reality and mythology of the black male body from the cotton field to the athletic field and all spaces in between. The piece was performed in the original production and tour by Marc Bamuthi Joseph with live music composed and performed by Paris King, Sekou Gibson and Ajayi Jackson. Other collaborators included dancer/choreographer Adia Whittaker and dramaturg Roberta Uno.
We’re proud to say that these artists have had a long relationship with Youth Speaks and The Living Word Project. Of the young artists who are re-envisioning this important piece, two started with Youth Speaks when they were 16, one was a big part of our partner program in NYC, 3 have collaborated in LWP repertory works and tours previously, and all 5 of the poets are veterans of Youth Speaks’ Annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival.
Word Becomes Flesh premiered in November 2003 at the Alice Arts Center (Oakland, CA) and subsequently toured through 2007 nationwide to venues including Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME), ODC Theater and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco, CA), On the Boards (Seattle, WA), New World Theater (Amherst, MA), Dance Theater Workshop (New York, NY), Live Arts Festival (Philadelphia, PA), Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago, IL), University Musical Society (Ann Arbor, MI), Miami Dade College (Miami, FL), and Dance Place (Washington, DC). Considered the seminal work of Marc Bamuthi Joseph and The Living Word Project, this piece was chosen by the National Performance Network for its 25th Anniversary Re-Creation Initiative supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
For Booking and More Information:
Joan Osato, Producing Director
Youth Speaks, Inc. + The Living Word Project