Break/s It Down

“I have literal speech and figurative movement,” says Marc Bamuthi Joseph. He's talking about the pat-head-rub-tummy style of his critically acclaimed performances, in which he tells a story, say this one, from one of the videos on his MySpace page: “The European States made it an offense punishable by death for folks of color to be in possession of any noisemaking instrument.” His hands pound an invisible drum, even as his feet start to move in a hazily familiar pattern. “However, they had enough business sense not to devalue their own property by cutting off our feet.” He's full-out tap dancing in his sneaks now, and doesn't need to say anything literal. Or have the feet turned literal? Can he switch it up at will? At the break/s, Joseph digs deep into the history of hip-hop, using Jeff Chang's now-classic book Can't Stop Won't Stop as a jumping-off point and bringing in elements of his own life story. He calls it a mixtape for the stage, because he's joined onstage by DJ Excess and percussionist Tommy Shepherd, guided by the choreography of Staci Printz, and backed up by contributions from filmmaker Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi and dramaturge Brian Freeman. Tonight, Joseph also offers himself up for a Q&A session after the show.
June 19-21, 8 p.m., 2008

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