Word Becomes Flesh by The Living Word Project
Commissioned by the National Performance Network Re-Creation Initiative, La Pena Cultural Center, Painted Bride, Dance Place and Youth Speaks with principal development support from Z Space Studios in San Francisco
Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Artistic Director
Joan Osato, Producing Director
Written and Directed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph
Performed by Dahlak Brathwaite, Daveed Diggs, Dion Decibels, Khalil Anthony, Mic Turner and B.Yung
Technical Director/Lighting Designer: Haldun Morgan
Production Manager/Stage Manager: Joan Osato
Photography by Bethanie Hines
Marc Bamuthi Joseph/The Living Word Project
Word Becomes Flesh is a fluid evening-length choreopoem written in the form of a narrative verse play. Presented as a series of performed letters to his unborn son, the piece uses poetry, dance and live music to document nine months of pregnancy from a young single father's perspective. These performed letters incorporate elements of ritual, archetypes, and symbolic sites within the constructs of hip hop culture. Word Becomes Flesh evolves the realm of spoken word and realizes the form's theatrical potential as the poet/dancer cogently presents the complex contradictions involved in race, using the stage as an open page, and deftly writing the body as text.
This Re-creation of Word Becomes Flesh is a commission to redevelop Bamuthi’s first landmark work into a multi-player work of theater, with new writing and new direction. In a Re-Creation of Word Becomes Flesh, Youth Speaks Living Word Project gathers Daveed Diggs, Dahlak Brathwaite, Dion Decibels, Ben Turner, Mic Turner and B.Yung to remount Living Word Project's seminal work.
While women continue to fight for their right to make choices about their bodies, the legacy of patriarchy and male privilege still allow a man the social right to choose domestic absenteeism and refrain from offering either emotional or financial support. Word Becomes Flesh critically, lyrically, and choreographically examines this phenomenon. In the process we confront the intersection of the physical reality and mythology of the black male body from the cotton field to the athletic field and all spaces in between.
Word Becomes Flesh premiered in November 2003 at the Alice Arts Center (Oakland, CA) and subsequently toured through 2007 nationwide to venues including Bates Dance Festival (Lewiston, ME), ODC Theater and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco, CA), On the Boards (Seattle, WA), New World Theater (Amherst, MA), Dance Theater Workshop (New York, NY), Live Arts Festival (Philadelphia, PA), Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago, IL), University Musical Society (Ann Arbor, MI), Miami Dade College (Miami, FL), and Dance Place (Washington, DC). Considered the seminal work of Marc Bamuthi Joseph and The Living Word Project, this piece was chosen by the National Performance Network for its 25th Anniversary Re-Creation Initiative supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Word Becomes Flesh is a National Performance Network (NPN) Re-Creation Fund Project sponsored by La Pena Cultural Center (Berkeley, CA) in partnership with Painted Bride (Philadelphia, PA), Dance Place (Washington, DC), Youth Speaks (San Francisco, CA) and NPN. This project has been made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius. For more information: npnweb.org.
Excerpt filmed by MVMT for the National Performance Network's 25th Anniversary, Dallas TX December 2010
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