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BWW Review: FLOW at Studio Theatre

Starring almost entirely on his own in the 90-minute production, as Will Power, the 7th Storyteller, is the amazingly limber and articulate Justin Weaks.

BWW Review: FLOW at Studio Theatre
Justin Weaks (foreground) and DJ Nick tha 1da in Flow.
Photo courtesy of Studio Theatre.
Video Production by Studiio Box DC.

Flow, which saw its second production, in 2004, at Studio Theatre, is back!

Part of Studio Theatre's first digital season and more specifically featuring a trio of eclectic solo performances, Flow might be called a mixed metaphor. It blends the old West African tradition of griot - an oral tradition combining a historian, storyteller, praise singer, poet, and musician - with seven storytellers of an urban community presumably in the States.

Only their mode of communication, as expressed by playwright Will Power, is closer to hip-hop and riff than their African antecedents. Their stories are not necessarily profound, fit for the royal personages who listened to the griot tellers, but include the trivial and tragic.

Strong throughout the stories are rhythm and rhyme.

This production of Flow has another Studio connection: It is directed by Psalmayene 24, who is the theater's Doris Duke Artist in Residence, and geared toward the next generation of listeners.

Starring almost entirely on his own in the 90-minute production, as Will Power, the 7th Storyteller, is the amazingly limber and articulate Justin Weaks. It isn't always easy to understand what he's saying, but the energy and flexibility of moving across personalities and genders are clear.

Weaks' movement routines, choreographed by Tony Thomas, have a touch of hip-hop but also incorporate what might be called modern dance. Psalmayene 24 has stated that he had been introduced to hip-hop theater through a dance background. He underscores that the common theme of community in Flow provides audiences with respite from the pandemic.

Weaks is accompanied musically and with occasional words by Nick "tha Ida" Hernandez, DJ/composer/and sound designer.

Other production credits go to Wes Culwell, director of video; Sherrice Mojgani, lighting designer; and Leigh Wilson Smiley, dialect coach.

Flow is intended for mature audiences: This production contains strong language; references to drug use; and brief mention of police brutality, death from gun violence, and death by suicide. Also included is the use of the n-word as an expression among Black friends.

The production is available to stream by clicking here through June 13, 2021 Single tickets are $37, plus service fees.


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