by Baye Harrell and Jabari Exum
Directed by Psalmayene 24
Opening Performance & Reception: Friday, September 7, 8PM
WASHINGTON, DC – CulturalDC’s Mead Theatre Lab Program at Flashpoint presents Hueman Prophets’ Read: White and Blue, a tale of class divide, class consciousness and what lies beneath. Hueman Prophets consists of Baye Harrell and Jabari Exum, DC’s own hip hop theater duo. Harrell and Exum are teaming up with director and veteran hip hop theater artist Psalmayene 24 to re-envision their story of a white-collar author struggling to write a book about a blue-collar ex-con. Through the lens of an author’s creative process, the audience witnesses the shortsightedness and fear produced by a lifestyle of status and privilege.
The lyricism and colorful music that has earned Hueman Prophets notoriety for more than a decade will punctuate this production of Read: White and Blue. Written by Hueman Prophets’ members, Baye Harrell aka StraightForward and Jabari Exum aka AuraGin, the play first workshopped at the 2005 DC Hip-Hop Theater Festival and later premiered as a full-length play in the 2007 NYC and DC Hip-Hop Theater Festivals under the direction of the late Kibibi Dillon. In February 2012, esteemed actor/director, Clayton LeBouef, brought new vision to the production at The Atlas’ Intersections Festival. This iteration of the piece brings together a number of new collaborators and designers including choreographer/movement consultant Paige Hernandez, dramaturges Raymond Caldwell and Amrita Ramanan and set designer Erin Cumbo, as well as up-and-coming lighting designer John D. Alexander and production manager Wilma Lynn Horton, both of whom have previously worked on the play. A new version of the script, a dynamic team of designers and an revered director at the helm of contemporary hip hop theater, all promise to add new luster to the story as it receives its first full-length run at Flashpoint.
Hueman Prophets use hip hop music as an entry way into the dynamic, entertaining and often uncomfortable spaces that exist between the social classes. Audiences will be drawn into the hypnotic rhythms of Read: White and Blue as the play reveals a connection between the characters’ worlds and raises a lingering point about disconnect within social groups and the apprehension that lies within bridging those gaps.
Hueman Prophets: Read: White and Blue
Pay-What-You-Can Preview: September 5 & 6
Opening Night & Reception: Friday, September 7, 8pm
Performances: September 5 – 23, 2012
Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm, Saturdays & Sundays at 2pm
Venue: Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint, 916 G Street NW (near Metro Center and Gallery Place Metro)
Tickets: $15 ($12 for students/teachers/seniors)
$10 tickets available for the following industry nights:
Friday, Sept 14th – Hip hop and musicians night
Saturday, Sept 15th – Theater Artists/Galvanize night
Saturday, Sept 22nd – DC Government Employees/Union Employees night
For more information: Call 202.315.1310 or visit culturaldc.org.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Baye “StraightForward” Harrell (Actor, Playwright) is an actor, educator, producer and one-half of the hip hop theater duo Hueman Prophets. He has become a fixture within his hometown of Washington, DC with an artistic vision of bridging the theater and hip hop communities. As a youth, he attended Nationhouse Positive Action Center and the Kelsey E. Collie Summer Theater Arts program which served as his introduction to the performing arts and theater. He would later join the Maryland Boys Choir, and serve as a youth vocalist on “Nobody Else Like Me” by Grammy Award winners Cathy Fink and Marcy Maxer. By middle school, he established himself as a hip hop artist and DJ in his own right and he co-founded Hueman Prophets, a positive and culturally progressive rap group. With time, the group evolved into a hip hop theater duo. Today, he has toured across the country, released two studio albums and co-written multiple stage productions. He has been the opening act for such notable artists as Questlove of The Roots, Common, Trey Songz and Dead Prez.
As an actor, he originated the role of Zomo in Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth (Imagination Stage), Poet in Prison Poetry (Lincoln Theater), and Kwame in 24-7-365 (Theater of the First Amendment). Other theater appearances include Passing Strange (Studio Theatre), In The Blood (theHegira) and In Pursuit of Me: The Story of Christylez Bacon (Intersections Festival). As a film and television actor, Baye has appeared in season 5 of HBO’s The Wire, Types In Stereo (Winner Arizona Black Film Showcase 2010) and hosted YAPTV on DCTV. As teaching artist and mentor, Baye has worked with youth in schools and non-profits including International Association of Hip Hop Educators (IAHHE), WECAN and Words, Beats and Life Inc. He continues his mission as an ambassador to the hip hop theater community with his recent and ongoing projects The Answer, an audio drama series which has aired on WPFW 89.3; Liner Notes (B-Fly Entertainment), a theatrical concert series at the Atlas Performing Arts Center and The Angle: An Eclectic Docuseries which he co-produces for the web.
Jabari “AuraGin” Exum, (Actor, Playwright) percussionist, emcee, poet, actor, director and entrepreneur, is an electrifying performing artist born and raised in Washington, DC. He is a skilled percussionist in the West African and Latin Tradition and is a prolific writer and performer in the world of hip hop. Since 1997 Jabari has also become a pioneering artist in hip hop theater. Jabari’s approach is unconventional since he is able to pull from so many different styles of expression. He has been acting, drumming and rapping since he was two years old and has been blessed with the opportunities to receive guidance from some of the greats in each of these artistic styles, from Mamady Keita and Djimo Kouyate, to KRS-One, Sonya Sanchez and Glynn Turman.
Jabari is presently a member of the hip hop duo Hueman Prophets (USA); Farafina Kan (West African Percussion Orchestra) (USA) and HHP (South African hip hop pioneer). He is currently a percussion teacher, writing coach and a full time musician, working with artists such as Dr. Cornel West and The Cornel West Theory, Tarus Mateen, Mark Curry, Maimouna Youssef, Carolyn Malachi, Weedie Braimah, W. Ellington Felton and Raheem DeVaughn. He is the creator of the Underground Mobile Store and Congo Square (designed to increase the accessibility of positive, independent artists from all corners of the world). A product of both the Howard University music program and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Jabari released several music projects in 2011, one being “The Triad” with legendary bassist Tarus Mateen. Jabari was also a part of the ”Train of Thought” series that circulating within the area from March through August 2011.
Psalmayene 24, (Director) is a playwright, actor and director. He has received playwriting commissions from The African Continuum Theater Company, Arena Stage and Imagination Stage. His one man play, Free Jujube Brown!, is published in the first Hip-Hop Theater anthology, Plays from the Boom-Box Galaxy (TCG). Psalmayene played Fortune in Arena Stage’s Helen Hayes Award winning production of Ruined (directed by Charles Randolph-Wright) and has appeared on HBO’s critically acclaimed series The Wire. His Hip-Hop Theater credits include choreographing the ensemble play Rhyme Deferred, co-creating The Hip-Hop Nightmares of Jujube Brown (Helen Hayes nomination, Outstanding Actor in a Resident Musical), and writing/directing Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth (Helen Hayes nomination, Outstanding Production for Young Audiences) and P.Nokio: A Hip-Hop Musical. Psalmayene’s work has been recognized and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Maryland State Arts Council, and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He is currently working on an adaptation of Cinderella.
About Hueman Prophets
When listening to Hueman Prophets or witnessing their live performance the audience peers through a window looking at two very real people. Hueman Prophets always keeps their music and action unpredictable, just like the beat of life. They enjoy bringing the audience with them on a journey into a world that challenges the norm.
This DC area-based group realized their mission to bring forth balance and understanding to listeners through music and theater at an early age. The core members of Hueman Prophets are Jabari Exum (AuraGin) and Baye Harrell (StraightForward). Baye and Jabari formed a bond as classmates at Nationhouse Watoto School at the early age of 4, and by the time they were 6 years old, the two were writing songs together. This creativity has lasted them a lifetime.
As fate would have it, Jabari and Baye explored various paths. Jabari studied at the Duke Ellington School for the Arts while Baye pursued the Science and Technology Program at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, MD. During this time, Baye began to hone his skills as a dj, actor, producer, keyboardist and saxophonist and Jabari focused on production, keyboards, djembe, Latin percussion, trap drums and marimba. With a creative bond like the one these two share, nothing could keep them apart for long. In 1997, Baye and Jabari reunited as Hueman Prophets. Under the guidance of Toni Blackman and the Freestyle Union, the group first emerged onto the U Street hip hop and spoken word scene as teenagers. Thanks to the mentorship of hip hop artists and groups including Poemcees and Opus Akoben, Hueman Prophets quickly became regulars at such clubs as State of the Union, Metro Cafe, Kaffa House and Mango Cafe. Later, as students enrolled at Howard University, they focused their creative efforts toward bringing a theatrical approach to the traditional hip hop aesthetic. Together, they have continued to redefine both the urban and suburban experiences within the hip hop generation and America.
The innovative form of Hueman Prophets’ music and performances are rooted in hip hop culture. However, they are vivid storytellers that ultimately lend new perspective to timeless, real-life situations. Their mission is to reconnect a generation through lifting the veil of class structure and alienation. Using the in-your-face style of hip hop theater, Hueman Prophets take the stage. Blending polished lyricism with captivating delivery, the group aims to push their theatrical approach to a whole new level. They broke new ground with their 2005 release “Listen: With Your Heart — a motion album” and two years later with “The Oldsouls: Mix Album.” Their form of entertainment takes hip hop music into uncharted territory.
The duo has opened for acts such as: Common, QuestLove, Trey Songz, Raheem Devaughn, Dead Prez and KRS-One. They have shared their artistry across the nation as featured artists of Ourtime 2008 Anchorage, Alaska; JobCorp S.T.A.R.S. in Boise, ID, Grand Rapids, MI, Oneota, NY and the Divine Warfare tour to Columbia University. The group has both collectively and independently been recognized with several grants from DC Commission for Arts and Humanities including the Artist Fellowship Program and Young Artist Program. In 2005, their theatrical production, Read: White and Blue which was produced through the DC and NYC Hip- Hop Theater Festivals and in 2012 at the Atlas’ Intersections Festival.
For over 10 years, the members of Hueman Prophets’ have been featured in more than seven of the annual DC Hip-Hop Theater Festivals including: Rhyme Deferred, Prison Poetry and Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth. Members have served as lead actors, script consultants, producers, music directors and playwrights of various theater productions. After a hiatus from DC’s performance scene, Hueman Prophets are pleased to be bringing their brand of hip hop theater back home and to CulturalDC’s Mead Theatre Lab Program with such an esteemed and talented team.
ABOUT THE MEAD THEATRE LAB PROGRAM
CulturalDC operates the Mead Theatre Lab Program and its intensive mentorship program for performing artists and independent theatre companies. Inaugurated in January 2006, the program provides theatre space, technical production support and production mentoring. A panel of noted DC theatre professionals selects the projects and provides guidance to the chosen producers. The result is an eclectic group of innovative, edgy productions and an environment in which emerging performing artists can grow.
The Mead Theatre Lab Program at Flashpoint, a CulturalDC project, is generously sponsored by Jaylee Mead. Additional support is provided by The Dallas Morse Coors Foundation for the Performing Arts, the Max & Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, the Mary & Daniel Loughran Foundation, The Washington Post Company and The Weissberg Foundation.
Funding for CuturalDC is provided by generously supported by The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, The Kresge Foundation, the MARPAT Foundation, the Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Prince Charitable Trusts, and many other generous partners. Marvin is CulturalDC’s 2012-13 Wine Partner.
CulturalDC • 916 G Street, NW • Washington, DC 20001
General: 202.315.1305 Press: 202.315.1310 Fax: 202.315.1303
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