Marc Bamuthi Joseph's presentation at the Museum of Contemporary Art is nothing short of astounding. It's one thing to have such a handle on one's own poetry that the words can be fired off at an audience like a brick of firecrackers, while maintaining clarity of story, imagery, articulation and character, achieving nothing less than captivation. It's another thing to be able to dance multiple styles of dance for two hours straight, soaring through the air, crawling around the floor, tapping and expressing every emotion with the movement of the body, while barely breaking a sweat or losing one's breath. Either of these feats would be remarkable. But Marc Bamuthi Joseph manages to do both, simultaneously, while telling a gut-wrenchingly honest story of the transformation into manhood when faced with the prospect of fatherhood. I recommend this presentation to all fans of poetry and performance art in general. Marc Bamuthi Joseph performs miracles when he combines the voice with the flesh. Not to be missed.
Tonight is the final night of the event. Remember, you will receive a $12 discount on tickets to this poetry event if you say "ChicagoPoetry" sent you when ordering your tickets at the box office.
Here's the details to that offer:
MARC BAMUTHI JOSEPH: WORD BECOMES FLESH
February 2 - 4, 7:30 pm at the Museum of Contemporary Art
220 East Chicago Avenue, 312.397.4010
$10 Discount Tickets to Chicagopoetry.com! (regular price $22)
Mention “Chicago poetry” at the MCA Box Office, 312.397.4010.
Limit 2 tickets per caller.
“He's a demon with wordplay and a perpetual-motion machine”
- Chicago Reader
“Joseph could do for rap poetry what Savion Glover did for rhythm tap in Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk…stunning transformations, passionate dancing and intense volleys of verse…it's powerful religion."
- The Houston Chronicle
"Rarely do word and movement mesh so seamlessly and elegantly that the audience is left with the thought that drives them. But such is the case with Marc Bamuthi Joseph whose stories put sound and gesture on a single continuum of expression…"
- The Washington Post
Word Becomes Flesh is a fluid, evening-length choreo-poem that incorporates poetry, dance, live music, and visual art presented by the Museum of Contemporary Art, February 2-4, 2006. Presented as a series of letters to his unborn son, the work uses elements of ritual, archetypes, and symbolic sites within the constructs of hip-hop to document nine months of pregnancy from a young single father's perspective. With live music composed and performed by Paris King, Sekou Gibson, and Ajayi Jackson, Bamuthi explores the countless possibilities of African-American dance, including tap, modern, hip-hop, and West African dance. An Oakland-based artist-activist, Marc Bamuthi Joseph is a National Poetry Slam champion, Broadway veteran, featured artist on the past two seasons of Russell Simmons' Presents Def Poetry on HBO, and a recipient of 2002 and 2004 National Performance Network commissions.
MARC BAMUTHI JOSEPH: WORD BECOMES FLESH
February 2 - 4, 2006
A passionate journey of poetry, dance, live music, and visual art from the perspective of a single father: the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago, presents Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s Word Becomes Flesh, February 2 - 4, 2006. Hailed as the Bay Area’s most passionate and engaging spoken-word artist, Bamuthi creates a remarkably elegant performance about race, gender, and parenthood. With his body as a deft quill, he uses the stage as his open page.
Presented as a series of performed letters from a father to his unborn son, Word Becomes Flesh is a fluid choreographed-poem which combines spoken word, dance, and live music. Documenting the nine months of pregnancy from the perspective of a young single father, Bamuthi incorporates elements of ritual and archetypes from hip-hop culture. Word Becomes Flesh redefines the parameters of the spoken-word genre, as Bamuthi, an electrifying storyteller, cogently reveals complex ideas about race and gender, while punctuating his language with breathtaking dexterous dance. With live music composed and performed by Paris King, Sekou Gibson, and Ajayi Jackson, Bamuthi explores the countless possibilities of African-American dance, including tap, modern, hip-hop, and West African dance.
In a world where women grapple with their reproductive rights, the legacy of patriarchy still allows men the social right to choose domestic, emotional, and financial absenteeism in the child-rearing process. Marc Bamuthi Joseph critically examines these issues in Word Becomes Flesh, lyrically confronting his own expectations and uncertainties about fatherhood. In the process, he delves into the mythology of the black male body, from the cotton field to the athletic field, and all spaces in between. Word Becomes Flesh fully showcases the unique crossroads of searing politics, theology, poetry, photography, and riveting dance.
An Oakland-based artist-activist, Bamuthi's performances have carried him from Senegal to Bosnia, Japan to Cuba. He entered the world of literary performance after crossing over from the realm of more traditional theater, most notably on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning The Tap Dance Kid and Stand-Up Tragedy. His third play, Word Becomes Flesh follows De/Cipher (2001) and No Man's Land (2002), both staged at acclaimed theaters across the country. He has lectured and performed at more than one-hundred colleges and universities including UC Berkeley, NYU, Brown, and Stanford Universities. Marc Bamuthi Joseph is a National Poetry Slam champion, a featured artist on the past two seasons of Russell Simmons' Presents Def Poetry on HBO, and a recipient of 2002 and 2004 National Performance Network commissions. As artistic director of Youth Speaks, a leading Bay Area literary arts organization, Bamuthi mentors 13 to 19-year-old writers and curates the annual Living Word Festival for Literary Arts.
ARTISTS UP CLOSE
Marc Bamuthi Joseph gives an insightful post-show talk on Thursday, February 2.
Marc Bamuthi Joseph performs Word Becomes Flesh, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, February 2, 3, and 4, at 7:30 pm at the MCA Theater, 220 East Chicago Avenue. Performance tickets are $22, or $18 for MCA members. Tickets are available at the MCA Box Office at 312.397.4010, or www.mcachicago.org.
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Support provided by the National Performance Network Residency Program.
2005-2006 Performances at the Museum of Contemporary Art are generously sponsored by the Joyce Foundation, Marshall Field’s Gives, and Altria Group Inc. Additional season support is provided by the Alphawood Foundation, the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation, and TCF Bank. Accommodations are provided in part by Comfort Inn & Suites Downtown Chicago. Air transportation is provided by American Airlines, the official airline of the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Based in Chicago with assets of $750 million, the Joyce Foundation supports efforts to improve the quality of life in the Great Lakes region. The Foundation awarded $1.2 million in grants to Chicago cultural institutions in 2003, and also launched the Joyce Awards, which support the commissioning by major Midwest cultural institutions of new work by artists of color. Other grantmaking focuses on education, environment, employment policy, gun violence prevention, and campaign finance reform.
Information about MCA exhibitions, programs, and special events is available on the MCA website at www.mcachicago.org or by telephone at 312.280.2660.
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Note: The Museum of Contemprary Art is offering ChicagoPoetry.com readers a discount on this weekend's performance of MARC BAMUTHI JOSEPH: WORD BECOMES FLESH. All You have to do is say "Chicago Poetry" at the boxoffice and you will get in for $10 (which is $12 off the $22 ticket price). Here are the details to this offer.