Idris Goodwin's HYPE MAN to Make West Coast Premiere at the Fountain
The Fountain Theatre opens its 2019 season of fresh, funny and meaningful new work with the West Coast premiereof an award-winning "break beat play" by Idris Goodwin. Social injustice, racial identity, gender inequity, career ambition and friendship converge - and collide - in Hype Man, directed by Deena Selenow. Opening night is set for a Feb. 23, with performances continuing through April 14.
Hype man Verb, played byMatthew Hancock (The Brothers Size, I and You at the Fountain, Honky at Rogue Machine, LADCC and Stage Raw awards forHit the Wall), has been backing up front-man rapper Pinnacle (Chad Addison, seen in Connect, The Perfect Crime, My Plastic Girlfriend and more at Theatre 68) since they were kids. Then beat maker Peep One (Clarissa Thibeaux of Echo Theater Company's The Found Dog Ribbon Dance) joined the group. Now, just as they are on the verge of making it big on national TV, a police shooting of a black teen shakes the band to its core, forcing them to confront questions of race, gender, privilege and when to use artistic expression as an act of social protest.
Hype Man is the third in Goodwin's series of "break beat" plays about hip-hop in America and the way that hip-hop has affected our personal relationships, dreams and aspirations, and politics.
"This one focuses on the question of responsibility," Goodwin said in an interview. "What does it mean to be a fan of this music and this culture? I've had a lot of friendships in my life that have been based on a shared love of hip-hop, a lot of friends of different races. Part of what brought me to hip-hop was the beats and the raps and all that, but also the spirit of it - the spirit spoke to me. [It's] an art form that has roots in street organizations, that has roots in the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Arts Movement, that has been a tool for people from low-income areas to literally be able to change their lives for the better."
Hype Man is the recipient of the 2017 Blue Ink Playwriting Award from American Blues Theatre and the 2018 Elliot Norton Award. It was developed at the Lark Playwriting Center, Kennedy Center College Theater Festival, La Jolla Playhouse and American Blues Theater. It received its world premiere production at Boston's Company One Theater, about which the Boston Globeraved, "Questions of racial justice and ambition energize a superb 'Hype Man'."
The creative team for Hype Man includes beat maker Romero Mosley, set designer James Maloof, lighting designer Chu Hsuan Chang, sound designer Malik Allen, costume designerMichael Mullen and prop master Shen Heckel. The production stage manager is Sarah Dawn Lowry. Simon Levy, Deborah Culver, James Bennett and Stephen Sachs produce for the Fountain Theatre.
Idris Goodwin is an award-winning playwright, director, orator and educator. He is the producing artistic director of Stage One Family Theater in Louisville, KY for which he penned the widely produced And In This Corner: Cassius Clay. Other widely produced plays include How We Got On; This Is Modern Art co-written with Kevin Coval; Bars and Measures; and The Raid. His The Way The Mountain Moved was commissioned and produced as part of Oregon Shakespeare's American Revolutions series. He has had work produced by or developed with The Actors Theatre of Louisville, Steppenwolf Theatre, Kennedy Center, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Cleveland Playhouse, Seattle Children's Theatre, Nashville Children's Theatre, Boulder Ensemble Theatre, TheatreWorks, Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor Program, La Jolla Playhouse, Eugene O'Neill Center, Lark Playwriting Center and New Harmony Project. He's received support from the NEA; the Ford, Mellon and Edgerton Foundations, and is the recipient of InterAct Theatre's 20/20 Prize and the Playwrights' Center's McKnight Fellowship. Idris is a member of the Dramatists Guild and serves on the boards of TYA/USA and The Children's Theatre Foundation of America.
A native New Yorker, Deena Selenow is a director and curator for new performance currently based in Los Angeles. Gravitating toward highly physical and darkly comedic theatrical events, Deena's work examines the complexities of self identity in our rapidly shifting American landscape. She has worked at REDCAT, La Jolla Playhouse WoW Festival/Chalk Rep, East West Players, Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center, Prelude Festival, LACMA, the Skirball Cultural Center, Hammer Museum, Highways Performance Space, LA LGBT Center, IAMA Theatre Company, Ammunition Theatre, Company of Angels, Machine Project, Watts Village Theater Company/LATC, Dixon Place, New York Theatre Workshop's 4th Street Theatre and more.American Theatre magazine recognized Deena nationally as a "Person to Watch" for her adventurous approach to the performing arts and her dedication to diversity and inclusion practices in the American theater.
The Fountain Theatre is one of the most successful intimate theaters in Los Angeles, providing a creative home for multi-ethnic theater and dance artists. The Fountain has won hundreds of awards, and Fountain projects have been seen across the U.S. and internationally. Recent highlights include all-star readings of Ms. Smith Goes to Washington and All the President's Menat Los Angeles City Hall and the inclusion of the Fountain's Citizen: An American Lyric in the Music Center's Our L.A. Voices festival at Grand Park. The Fountain's 2018 productions of The Chosen and Arrival & Departure each enjoyed months-long sold out runs and was named a Los Angeles Times "Critic's Choice." The company's most recent production, the West Coast premiere of Martyna Majok's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Cost of Living, was named to the Los Angeles Times' "Best of 2018" list.
Hype Man runs Feb. 23 through April 14, with performances on Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdaysat 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.; and Mondays at 8 p.m. Three preview performances will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 20; Thursday, Feb. 21; and Friday, Feb. 22, all at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $25-$45; Pay-What-You-Want seating is available every Monday night in addition to regular seating (subject to availability). The Fountain Theatre is located at 5060 Fountain Avenue (at Normandie) in Los Angeles. Secure, on-site parking is available for $5. The Fountain Theatre is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. Patrons are invited to relax before and after the show at the Fountain's indoor/outdoor café. For reservations and information, call (323) 663-1525 or go to www.FountainTheatre.com