About the Grant

$20,800 to support Passing Strange (MAP 2005), a multidisciplinary musical theater piece that tells the story of singer/songwriter/cabaret philosopher Stew, his displacement in the world he knew and his search for home through travel.

About the Project

Passing Strange is a multidisciplinary ensemble rock musical that tells the terrifying yet hilarious story of singer/songwriter/cabaret philosopher Stew. Conceived and written by Stew—in collaboration with musician Heidi Rodewald—Passing Strange recounts Stew’s South Central L.A. beginnings and a journey that took him from Los Angeles to New York and Europe and back. The show filters the time-honored cabaret trope of the “musical travelogue” through the black bohemian perspective in a way that manages to be both formally daring and completely accessible. Told through narration, song, visual projections and talking picnic tables, Passing Strange becomes the terrifying yet hilarious tale of Stew’s displacement in the world he knew and his search for home through travel—all magnified by his outrageous encounters with radical politics, exoticization and kindness. Stew’s unique blend of storytelling, ensemble theater and populist musicology is the result of these same travels, during which he honed his prodigious music-writing talents with various experimental music-art groups, eventually gathering critical acclaim for his band The Negro Problem—known for its ornate polyphonic and lyrically complex soundscapes—and his subsequent solo projects. Contributing original music to Passing Strange and acting as co-musical director is Heidi Rodewald, who brings years of collaboration with Stew and a multi-instrumental discipline to her work, including oboe and melodica.
Stew Rhodes
Stew Rhodes


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