The Living Word Project pairs together artists in a wide circle of disciplines to make theater in the verse of our times.
We generate ideas based on individual responses to critical points of inquiry, thus choreographers, writers, designers, and composers react first to a singular question rather than one another. In the case of Scourge, all collaborators were given four words: race, possession, prodigal, and “New Orleans”.
Each collaborator built a body of 20-minute responses in their respective disciplines based on Haiti’s relationship to one of the four prompts. We thus create a large body of interdisciplinary work based on artists’ organic responses to a theme. We then arrange these pieces individually and in tandem, following the lead of the poet’s voice to establish a narrative line.
There are no subordinates in this process. We are purposeful in pairing artists who hold one another in high regard, This mutual respect engenders trust. The democracy’s nth point is the director of a particular project. In addition to physical blocking and general vision, the ultimate integrity of a piece is charged to the director to maintain.
The team of artists for any given LWP piece is ultimately chosen by artistic director Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Among his chosen collaborators, have been Danny Hoch, Jeff Chang, Adia Whitaker, Michael John Garces, Roberta Uno, Robert Moses, John Santos, Chinaka Hodge, Kathy Perkins, David Szlasa, James Clotfelter, Rennie Harris, SF Jazz, Jason Samuels Smith, Stacey Printz, and Kamilah Forbes.
These artists are joined by young apprentices who observe their process in preparation for their role as contributing writers to a future project. This method yields an amazingly integrated project, wherein the voices are both intergenerational and interdisciplinary, using hip hop as a final step from which to look out into the future.
As Artistic Director of the Living Word Project, Marc Bamuthi Joseph also works closely with a select group of writers and performers, ranging in age from 19-30, who make up the primary company. Bamuthi is responsible for overseeing the development of this company’s curatorial and aesthetic vision, as well as guiding the direction toward a specific methodology.
As such, he is looking for “artists that take risks,” and are dedicated toward the pursuit of a career in the field and the explorations of the future aesthetic.
Many of these young writers and performers will have risen through the Youth Speaks ranks – meaning that they have already grasped a deep understanding of what’s available to them through their linguistic, performance, and literary tools, and are actively pursuing an artistic career.
Artists in this realm include Lauren Whitehead, Nico Cary, Mayda del Valle, Daveed Diggs, Jason Mateo, Dennis Kim, Rafael Casal, and Katri Foster. These Youth Speaks veterans will be teamed with young artists who are pushing boundaries relating to genre, mediums, techniques, content, and critical dialogue, and wish also to explore the theater. Such
Each young artist first takes part in a mandatory “apprenticeship” – a year-long opportunity to observe and learn the process of developing work from concept to completion. These apprentices will then have an opportunity to create work of their own, under the mentorship of Bamuthi, which together will make up the Living Word Project Repertory.
This process will develop a strong body of work with integrity, artistic vision and direction, educational and performance authenticity, and a supported network in which it will be seen. This new performance language accesses the collective memory of the post civil-rights movement, generation X babies who have brought the world its most elastic and powerful cultural adhesives – hip hop and the internet, and thus speak at an unprecedented speed of thought, with an unparalleled access to information and with an exceptionally attenuated listening capability for the spoken word.