HARP

(HERE Artist Residency Program)

Cannabis! A theatrical concert Baba Israel

Show Description

This live multimedia performance will tell the story of cannabis by creating an “up on your feet” musical concert with spoken word and theater. Hip Hop MC’s, singers, dancers, and video projection will be mixed and driven by a live band. Through music and the spoken word the show will trace the impact of the plant on humanity.


This project is based on Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana - Medical, Recreational, and Scientific by Martin A. Lee (2012). The book's author has committed to collaborating on the project and will serve as a consultant in the project's development. The show will feature "mash ups" and arrangements of iconic music; La Cucaracha of the Mexican Revolution, Louis Armstrong and other Jazz “vipers”, the Beat era, 60’s Rock n’ Roll, and Reggae, right up to the Hip Hop of today.


In contrast, using projection and immersive theater, the audience will experience the repressive forces that have criminalized the communities who have sought its medical, artistic, and revelatory properties. The production will also celebrate the artists and activists who have resisted those forces.
We are embarking on this project recognising that we are at a tipping point in America’s history with cannabis. More than half of the states and the District of Columbia currently have laws legalising cannabis. Now is the time to challenge the taboos and perceptions of the plant by exploring its history, medical impact, the racist roots of prohibition, and its continued legacy of mass incarceration of communities of color.


Lastly, we want to explore the opportunities and contradictions emerging as legalization spreads across the country despite the new anti-cannabis regime in Washington. We imagine a production that is both politically charged and an uplifting and celebratory event.

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Artist Bio

Baba Israel is an artist, producer, educator and consultant raised in New York by parents who were core members of the Living Theatre. He co-founded Playback NYC, the first playback theatre company to integrate freestyle hip hop. His debut solo show “Boom Bap Meditations” was supported by the Ford Foundation and the Hip Hop Theatre festival. He has toured across Asia, Africa, Europe, the South Pacific, North and South America as a hip hop and theatre artist and led cultural ambassador programs internationally supported by the US State Department. His work has been featured in documentaries such as Freestlye and Hip Hop for Hope, and on MTV and BET.

Soul Inscribed is a hip hop, and spoken word collective who are the core band for the production. The ensemble creates an eclectic new vision of jazz, dub, and funk. Soul Inscribed is comprised of Baba Israel (emcee/production), Grace Galu (vocalist/composer), Duv (vocalist), Sean Nowell (Sax, Flute, FX/composer), Doron Lev (Drums) and Yako 440 (instrumentation/production).

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