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“The Other Side,” at the Hip Hop Theater Festival

This spring, Laurie started actively pursuing an ongoing collaboration with Sol y Soul and the BlackOut Arts Collective, two other groups in the community doing work similar to that of the Guerrillas. The first concrete opportunity emerged in "The Other Side," a hip hop play put together by Sol y Sol, also featuring TriFlava.

We performed the show tonight in Space A at The Studio Theater as the closing act of the Hip Hop Theater Festival, which ran all week at a variety of venues including the Kennedy Center and Howard University. A packed house of around 200 people offered a standing ovation for the show, which one guerrilla in the audience described as "magnificent."

The Washington Post's Style section ran a front-page article today discussing the festival and its reflections of conscious hip-hop. After noting "The Other Side," and mentioning its appearance at the Studio Theater, the article quoted Sol Y Soul Director Regie Cabico (who also directed "The Other Side") at length:

"Hip-hop has created a generation where teens are attracted to poetry more than ever," Cabico said. "In the '70s, everyone wanted to be a rock star. In the '90s, everyone wanted to be a spoken-word poet. In this particular decade, you are seeing multi-performance artists coming together. . . .People are taking the power onto themselves. I feel we are heading into a new era. Who knows where it is going?

"The Other Side" explored a wide spectrum of themes, including gentrification as experienced from a variety of perspectives. One scene entailed Nigel Greaves of BlackOut and the TriFlava crew depicting older men from the neighborhood (through the use of paper bag puppets) commenting on yuppies (played by myself and Cherie Latson) doing yoga. Others included games of catch with the audience, reflections on the "taxation without representation" imposed on DC residents, and the experience of immigrants. One of my verses in the show touched on immigration and gentrification:

The 62 Archer Avenue bus
must get, from each of us, an "In God We Trust"
It takes us 'cross Chicago, to everywhere I go
'cause other spots are expensive, and white folks get apprehensive
when brown people come in groups — even when we're wearing suits!

Not sure when I lost my roots, only that I'm in cahoots
with all people known back home as "yoots."
We got our style, but check it out: it's not white, and it's not black.
Take our success on your terms as fact
combining cultures, refining what's your vision of what brown means to be:

not just chillin — with rhythm — but also free
beyond the liberties that whitie has guaranteed
I'm talking 'bout a counterculture that we lead,
freed of all the trivial nonsense possesin this nation we're facin',
Western civilization offering carnations while it steals

everything worth taking, and then you feel like you have to assimilate
or else you hate. You gotta put food on your plate, 'specially for your mate.
But the melting pot's not all it's cracked up to be.
We live in a fractured, torn society.

One humanity, heart torn apart.
It don't hurt to have a start involving parents with some cash
don't even need your own stash to get a hundred yard head start
in the white man's dash. We need some MASH in our public education
here in DC on the last plantation . . . .

Stay tuned for more collaboration between guerrilla poets and performers from our sister groups, or come to a guerrilla organizing gathering to explore getting involved!  The experience was inspiring and uplifting — I feel better than I have in years . . .

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The DC Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency (GPI) is an anti-authoritarian, collaborative, pro-humanity artists' collective incorporating music, rhythm, spoken word, community and resistance.

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