About the Grant

$25,000 to support Mark Bamuthi Joseph's Scourge (MAP 2004), a full-length work of hip-hop theater that explores the social and diplomatic trajectory of Haiti.

About the Project

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) and Youth Speaks have commissioned poet and spoken-word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph to create Scourge, a full-length work of hip hop theater. Scheduled to premiere at the Center in May 2005, Scourge will blend the traditions of Afro-Caribbean jazz, spoken word, and hip hop into a compelling historical narrative tracing the social and diplomatic trajectory of Haiti.

The work digs at the root of current cultural tensions through a Homeric lens, using oral poetry and myth as the primary narrative devices. Through a fusion of spoken word, live music and dance, Scourge will suggest a series of historical factors that led to Haiti’s present-day situation. The work will be divided into four parts and will jump between significant markers in Haiti’s past, blurring history with speculation and myth. Through the musical traditions of jazz, gospel, Afro-Haitian spiritual, carnival, soul, and hip hop, Scourge will trace the cultural and political connections between Haiti, the United States, Africa, and the other nations of the Caribbean. Bamuthi will be joined in his creative process by a dynamic team of artists including Grammy-nominated Latin Jazz composer John Santos, three youth poets from Youth Speaks, hip hop dance legend Rennie Harris, director Kamilah Forbes, and dramaturg Roberta Uno. Scourge will be the headlining performance at the Bay Area Hip Hop Theater Festival and will run from May 12-15, 2005.

Related Websites

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Mark Bamuthi Joseph
Mark Bamuthi Joseph

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