Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop: Danny Hoch's One-Man Show

I drive by a building from time to time that from the front looks pretty much like every other building nearby: block construction, nondescript and badly in need of some TLC (or demolition). Nothing remarkable. That’s from the front. But the back is another story. There is no back. It’s missing along with most of the roof. A chain link fence surrounds the back and an empty concrete slab is all that remains of a building that must have sat just to the rear. I was approaching from this direction and noticed a big mural plastered inside on what’s left of an interior wall. And I’d never seen it before nor did it make any sense. What did the message mean and who were the assortment of men and women in shadow? Where would the website take me? After shooting the photo and getting on the computer I was relieved to learn it is advertising a one-man play to be performed at the nearby Hillsborough Community College. (What an odd place to put such a large poster for a stage performance; this isn’t exactly a billboard or on a main thoroughfare by any stretch.) This weekend, HCC’s Visual and Performing Arts Series presents a limited run of playwright Danny Hoch’s one-man show. The play, Jails, Hospitals and Hip-Hop, will be performed as part of the HCC Visual and Performing Arts Series.
Here is what I learned about the play: a lone actor, Curtis Belz, will present eight monologue characterizations – which include “Flip, a good ol’ boy from the Midwest who has come to identify with urban hip-hoppers; Bronx, a sidewalk vendor who gets pinched for selling without a license; and Sam, a prison guard with an anger management problem (evidenced by his beating a prisoner nearly to death).” He will be accompanied by musician Matt Wetherington and choreographer/dancer DeMario Henry. (The show starts tonight and runs through September 19, at the Performing Arts Building of Hillsborough Community College – Ybor Campus.)
The man responsible for the mural is Danny Hoch, actor, playwright and director whose plays Pot Melting, Some People, and this play, Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop have garnered two OBIES, an National Endowment for the Arts Solo Theatre Fellowship, Sundance Writers Fellowship, CalArts/Alpert Award In Theatre and a Tennessee Williams Fellowship. His work has appeared in fifty U.S. cities and fifteen countries. He is a Senior Fellow at the New School’s Vera List Center For Art & Politics and his writings on hip-hop, race and class have appeared in The Village Voice, The New York Times, Harper's, The Nation, American Theatre, and several books. His book Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop, the subject of the mural which simply states “We all made mistakes,” is in its second printing by Villard Books/Random House.
The play is rated R. The location of the mural advertising the play is rated S, for strange.


Lois said...

Since it caught your eye and now it's on your blog, I'd say it worked out pretty well even if it is strange!

Jacob said...

What mistakes? Strange is right. You find the strangest things. Thank goodness. Keep doing it!

Don and Krise said...

I'm really surprised. It sounds like this was really off the beaten path. Why wouldn't they put it right out in everyone's face? It sounds like it could actually be entertaining. Are you thinking of going?

B SQUARED said...

I hope the Play is the equal of your post.

Rofo said...

This sign is gone and the building has been rebuilt. But the show lives on! It will have a run tonight and tomorrow at in Coral Gables at GableStage. In 2009 it was selected as one of Creative Loafing's top ten plays of the year and it received glowing reviews from audiences and critics alike.
The location for this DIY banner was chosen because it was near the theatre in Ybor and in a spot that had a lot of traffic flowing past it during rush hours.