These are the throwaways, the statistics, the rebels without applause
and we’re supposed to teach them how to write
when they can't formulate a sentence past 25 to life.
In Spite of Everything features the Bay Area's most dynamic spoken word trio, the collective known as “The Suicide Kings” (think Culture Clash meets I was Born with Two Tongues in a moshpit) and theatrically documents their unlikely movement away from the precipice of their own lives, to the center of the public school system in Northern California. The Kings’ underdog aesthetic builds empathy and compassion for the forgotten elements of society, fearlessly speaking ugly truths using intricately beautiful imagery and verse. The trio has received national accolades for their ability to take risks, and combine poetry, vaudeville, and confession to push the boundaries of spoken word theater. The plot turns on the day after a school shooting in an un-named American town. As school administrators ask themselves the perennial question (“What went wrong?”) they discover a note that implies that three poetry teachers in the school might have the answer. The ensuing inquiry incites several compelling questions:
How the rebel heir of Scientology ,a tattooed Jew who used to run with Nazi's and an immigrant ex-Crip punk rocker end up TEACHING POETRY in PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS?
What does their journey say about education in the U.S., shifting male identities and archetypes, the intersection of hip hop and punk, performed whiteness, and most importantly, survival?
All three of In Spite’s principals have appeared on Def Poetry twice, performed and taught at Universities throughout the country, and are easily leading the aesthetic curve of spoken word poetry in the Bay Area. Given that they are making the leap from the poetry slam stage to an evening length theatrical work, they’ve crafted a timeline with equal measures of workshop rehearsal, public in-progress showings, and post-premiere development. This will be succeeded by another Work-in-Progress staging in February, followed by the “national” debut of the full piece at the Hip Hop Theater Festival in May '06. After this debut, the principals will execute a developmental residency week at New World Theater in Massachusetts to further hone the piece, while simultaneously working the youth of Project 2050 on performance skills, myth making, and wholistic health and stability.