Friday, October 31, 2008

November 4th by the writer of Kingdom

Hip hop poem about the election. Words by Aaron Jafferis. Music by KronZilla. Thanks to Angela, April, Daniene, Derrick, Dexter, Dontae, Doug, Gabe, Hillary, Jay, Jessie, Joel, Kesa, Laki, Layla, Liz, Magalis, Mike, Red.



My father was African, my mother American.
I have brothers blue-black, and cousins with fairer skin
who pale in comparison to Sarah Palin.
Like blues, my family trees roots shoot
deep through the earth, but only in America
could my parents have given birth to me.
Conceived when cultures
collided and made love, previously divided states
(of mind) united and gave blood and life.
Husband and wife split the difference between
hope and change, between cope and pain,
and even though they split, all of it their hope and pain
still fit in their sons open brain
and over time became his/my over-arching aim:
give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,
give me liberty from war, lift, lift the underclasses,
and if this economy looks fundamentally strong,
your fundamentals are wrong
or youre looking through muddy glasses,
or your fundamental heads are stuck up your metaphorical...

Ask me who I am, and I will tell you true:
my name is not Barack, though this is his story too.
My name is hip hop. Its my history Im telling you:

My father was African, my mother American.
I have brothers blue-black, and cousins with fairer skin
who pale in comparison to Sarah Palin, who isnt
the only illustration of true-blooded Americanism.
Like blues, I am he whose family trees
roots shoot deep through the earth,
but only America could have given birth to me.
I was given the gift of speech, and I use it
to outreach and uplift the youth, and if you
wanna use me as a servant to you in order to form
a more perfect union, then do...organize

and do mobilize and open eyes to truth and show that lies
misled the poor and led to war and broken lives.
Do give the tools to cope and rise,
and as the movement grows in size
and breaks the ropes that hope defies,
and as the youth vote multiplies,
well break the race right open wide,
wide open eyes will vote
and take this nation by surprise. Surprise!

I am the native son, the bought and traded one,
the sometimes hated drum talking of change to come,
I am the underrated, the wonder-if-hell-make-it one,
the character-assassinated but still not jaded son,
even though over time I become the front-page-aided one,
the allegedly overrated, celebrity-associated one,
some people thought I blew up and went pop-
ular, grew up and then dropped the urban
working class who, from first to last, I have worked
to bring from last to first, and if you think my values
are in trouble...your (thought) bubble is burst.
I still cast my lot with the tired, the poor,
the huddled masses. Give me liberty from war,
lift, lift the underclasses, and if this economy
looks fundamentally strong, your fundamentals are wrong
or youre lookin through muddy glasses,
or your fundamental heads are stuck up your metaphorical...

As for us:
if hip hop is the entrance to what is in store
lit hot from the embers of what came before,
if Barack is the belief that God demands more
than a war in Iraq and abandoning the poor,
if America can stare itself in the face and be sure
we want to end poverty, and end endless war,
then we are the ones we have been waiting for.
You are the ones you have been waiting for.

Your name is...My name is...
Our name is...
Our name is America, our very existence, a miracle.
We survived insistent attempts to make our lives unbearable.
Dehumanize us, brutalize and downsize divide us,
still we rise through the work of the multitudes inside us.
Though generations have lived and died,
we pride ourselves on our youth
and keep our eyes on the prize of that self-evident truth
that we know is not a lie even though Americas broke:
Our birthright is equality. Our inheritance is hope.
Our name is America, and you better be ready,
cause on the 4th of November, we are going to vote.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


by Tom Chesek
Red Bank Orbit
Steven Brinberg brings his uncanny and un-campy Streisand characterization back to Asbury Park, when ReVision Theatre Company presents a special performance of FUNNY GIRL.

Red Bank has the Two River Theater Company and its gleaming, glass-facade showplace of a home stage. Long Branch boasts the New Jersey Repertory Company, which works some pretty potent magic in its converted downtown storefront while they preparing for an eventual move to new custom-made digs.

There’s a third professional stage company headquartered in this neck of Monmouth County, and if you haven’t quite processed the name ReVision Theatre Company, don’t sweat it. The based-in-Asbury Park troupe is still really getting itself established, having set up shop in Asbury’s historic VFW building with a busy slate of classes, workshops and readings.

And when we say it’s “based in Asbury,” we do mean that its members use the whole city as their canvas; inhabiting historic halls, rejuvenated business buildings and long-vacant boardwalk structures like a bunch of wondrous hermit crabs.

These are the guys, after all, who famously teamed with boardwalk developers Madison Marquette to convert the amazing Carousel building into a viable venue for live performance — something it had never managed to be in its long history — when they mounted their smash revival of Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical last summer. And to think they almost considered moving to Paducah.

An actual season’s worth of entertainments was always on the drawing board for ReVision’s triad of Producing Artistic Directors (Thomas Morrissey, David Leidholdt and Stephen Bishop Seely; all veterans of Manhattan’s Genesius Theatre), and this past Saturday night, the partners and board president Bob Angelini convened a special season announcement party at Mattison Park Restaurant, itself a re-visioned bank building. Red Bank oRBit, as you probably figured, was on the scene, working the room and knocking back rootbeer martinis.

The cast of ReVision Theatre’s HAIR posed with the groundbreaking show’s co-creator James Rado, when he took in one of their sold-out performances last August.

Cast members of Hair were on hand, performing numbers from the 1967 show as well as from a couple of the new projects announced onstage by the producing partners. As Liedholdt, Morrissey and Seely revealed to the packed house, the ReVision company’s inaugural season begins in earnest on December 4, with the East Coast premiere of Scrooge in Rouge, a “British music hall Christmas Carol” that puts a manic spin on the well-roasted holiday chestnut.

In the comic piece conceived and adapted by book writer and lyricist Ricky Graham, a circa-1900 theatrical troupe is in the midst of preparations for their Christmas Carol show when seventeen of the twenty actors take ill — leaving three intrepid players to perform 23 Dickensian characters in what can only be described as a tour de farce. Presented at Asbury’s VFW Post 1333 on Lake Avenue and Bond Street, the show offers sixteen performances through December 28.

ReVision returns in 2009 with Kingdom, a “Hip Hop musical” study of two friends from the barrio whose need to belong — in this case, to the Nation of the Latin Kings — tears them apart. Featuring a score by Aaron Jafferis and Ian Williams, the show runs from April 16 to May 3 at the VFW building.

Last summer, the ReVision crew presented a one-shot fundraiser event at the historic Paramount Theatre; a revival of Hello Dolly! starring Carol Channing tribute artist Richard Skipper in the role made famous by Channing herself. “In the spirit of Dolly,” ReVision takes over the Paramount once again on July 11 for a benefit performance of the Jule Styne-Bob Merrill musical Funny Girl. Steven Brinberg, an actor-vocalist whose celebrated portrayal of Barbra Streisand has won him raves throughout the cabaret circuit (including Tim McLoone’s Supper Club) channels Babs as Fanny Brice in the show that made her a star.

Still coming together as we post this, ReVision’s summer-show production of The Full Monty comes to a location that’s yet to be determined, on the confirmed dates of August 12 through September 6. Acclaimed playwright Terrence McNally wrote the book to David Yazbek’s musicalization of the hit British film, in which a group of unemployed steelworkers find a new sense of purpose as male strippers. Doing this show in the round at the Carousel would make it the Full Monty and then some.

Info on single-ticket prices and subscription plans can be found right here. Watch Red Bank oRBit for updates; and we’ll let David Leidholdt have the last word.

“We have three specific challenges,” says the veteran director. “To find pieces that represent us, to develop shows that are able to be produced anywhere — and to get people off the beach and into the theatre!”