The Living Word Project (LWP) is the resident theater company of Youth Speaks, committed to producing literary performance in the verse of our time. Aesthetically urban, pedagogically Freirean, LWP derives personal performed narratives out of interdisciplinary collaboration.

Though its methodology includes dance, music, and film, the company’s emphasis is spoken storytelling. LWP creates verse-based work that is spoken through the body, illustrated by visual and sonic scores, and in communication with the important social issues and movements of the immediate moment. LWP is the theater’s connection from Shakespeare’s quill to Kool Herc’s turntables; from Martha Graham’s cupped hand to Nelson Mandela’s clenched fist: a new voice for a new politic.

Our Artistic Presentation
We present art in a WAY that constructs safe space for this transformation to take place. 

“each generation, out of relative obscurity, must discover their destiny and either fulfill or betray it.”  -Frantz Fanon 

Our founding & central organizational claim is that we exist “because the next generation can speak for itself”. Our institutional directive then is to pedagogically enable “future thinking” and to artistically promote forward motion from aesthetic and cultural perspectives. In this endeavor, we abide by a slate of axioms, and principles in artistic presentation.

Both the Living Word Project & Youth Speaks, Inc. are  hip hop generation organizations who, in the style of hip hop culture, are predicated upon both audacious visibility and energetic reciprocity. Our presentations are intentionally instructive, populist, and demonstrably advocate experimentation with literacy and literary form. Our aesthetic is principally non-European or “alt-white”, which is to say that we challenge models of classicism from both cultural and environmental perspectives. 

As such, the concept of alterity, the philosophical principle of exchanging one’s own perspective for that of the “other” is ALWAYS in play at the Living Word Project & Youth Speaks. 

The Performance
In the Verse of Our Time

Our verse-based work is spoken through the body, illustrated by visual and sonic scores, and in communication with the important social issues and movements of the immediate moment. We create space for ritual magic AS performance, and also ritual magic IN performance. We EXPLICITLY seek to present art that reflects and inspires TRANSFORMATION ON BOTH MICRO AND MACROCOSMIC LEVELS.

The Performers / Enthographers
Diverse, Role Models & Rogue Scholars, Connected to Community

Our performers are professional artists that create unique, cutting-edge work based in the “word,” but not limited by it. We firmly believe in artist driven curation. We position ARTISTS as experts in the field who are best able to discern excellence and artistic integrity.

Our Productions
Performed ethnography

By taking multiple views of current situations we develop a series of performative non-fiction essays in which the ethos of revolution, color consciousness, or racism are deconstructed as the result of historical facts, rather than inherent or implicit conditions of the human temperament.

Our Audience
A New Politic, Devoted, The New America

Our fans are from diverse backgrounds and share a love for future thinking, urban centered performer. They see us as the theater’s connection from Shakespeare’s quill to Kool Herc’s turntables; from Martha Graham’s cupped hand to Nelson Mandela’s clenched fist.

The Experience
Aesthetically urban, pedagogically Freirean

Our experience and education inspires a consciousness around the social impact of historical elements that are some how “missing” from traditional educational texts.

Our Education
A Model for Spoken Word’s Artistic Trajectory

We educate audiences about the possibilities and artistic merit of new forms and genres of the literary arts. In providing an apprenticeship program for emerging voices under the guidance of an Artistic Director, as well as opportunities for their work to be developed and presented through a guided mentoring process, we empower the continuity of the living word.