RED, BLACK & GREEN: A BLUES Comes to REDCAT, 1/31-2/4
REDCAT, CalArts' downtown center for contemporary arts, presents the Los Angeles premiere of Alpert Award-winning hip-hop theater artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph and visual artist Theaster Gates' acclaimed collaboration red, black & GREEN: a blues (rbGb), a visceral and moving hybrid performance that merges incisive writing and urgent choreography to confront issues of race, class, culture and the environment. The four-performance run of rbGb will be presented at the Roy and Edna Disney/ CalArts Theater, Thursday, January 31 through Sunday, February 3, 2013.
Directed by LA-based theater artist Michael John Garcés, the work draws upon hip-hop's interdisciplinary foundations, with Marc Bamuthi Joseph and a magnetic and a multitalented cast of performers delivering powerful verse and impassioned songs to examine notions of "living green," and what that might mean to communities under social and economic duress. Within an evolving modular stage that doubles as an art installation-an interactive shotgun cabin constructed from reclaimed materials by celebrated visual artist Theaster Gates-a combination of dance, poetry, music, and visual art blend seamlessly to create a soul-stirring performance and a kaleidoscopic investigation of collective responsibility in an era of climate change.
This deeply collaborative creation was shaped by stories gathered during urban eco-festivals organized by Marc Bamuthi Joseph in cities across the U.S. The interactive stage set/installation designed by Theaster Gates is a full character in the piece, with vivid films by Eli Jacobs Fantauzzi bringing the outside world into the theater. Additional collaborators include choreographer Stacey Printz, musician and composer Tommy Shepherd, lighting designer James Clotfelter, media designer David Szlasa, and costume designer Mai-Lei Pecorari. Joseph is joined onstage in the performance by Shepherd, dancer/actor Traci Tolmaire, and vocalist Yaw.
"It is a hard and obvious truth that people of color are under-represented in the environmental movement," remarks Joseph when discussing the original inspiration for the piece. "It is also a hard and obvious truth that violent crime and poor education pose more of an imminent danger to most poor neighborhoods than environmental crisis. I personally am of the belief that the movement for social change and environmental accountability are one and the same, that focusing on steps to sustain the planet ultimately forces us to envision a pathway to sustaining humanity."
With passion and energy, intelligence and sweat Marc Bamuthi Joseph and his fellow cast members lead the audience through four seasons in four cities -- summer in Chicago, fall in Houston, winter in Harlem, and spring in Oakland. The narrative exists in a poetic and ephemeral space, toggling between the realities of shotgun houses, subway cars, park benches, and father-son conversations, to more figurative spaces of collective memory, hallucination, dream and lament.