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Marc Bamuthi Joseph/The Living Word Project
/peh-LO-tah/—a futbol framed freedom suite . . .

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Joseph’s words can take an audience’s breath away, then coax out sighs, exclamations of approval, and finally drawing them to their feet.

—The SF Bay Guardian

About

Developed with and directed by Michael John Garcés and choreographed by Stacey Printz, with original music by Tommy Shepherd. Presented in association with the Chicago Humanities Festival

Inspired by soccer and the artist’s first generation American experience, Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s
/peh-LO-tah/—a futbol framed freedom suite . . . actively intersects global economics, fandom culture across borders, and the politics of joy. The work was initially conceived during Joseph’s first trip to South Africa, when the nation was preparing for the 2010 World Cup.

Along with spoken word poetry by Joseph, /peh-LO-tah/ features interdisciplinary performances by Amara Tabor-Smith and native Chicagoan Traci Tolmaire as well as original music by Tommy Soulati Shepherd with selected vocal arrangements by Yaw Agyeman of the Black Monks of Mississippi. Filmed imagery from Joseph’s travels to South Africa and Brazil and video projection designed by visual artist and long-time collaborator David Szlasa accompany dancers who perform the movements of soccer players fused with hip-hop and modern dance as well as folkloric dances of South Africa and Brazil. The distinct physiologies and expressiveness of the dancers’ bodies offer a powerful meditation on egalitarianism “choreographed to the rhythm of the beautiful game.”

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

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Five performers stand on a stage heads upraised and mouths open. They are dressed in athletic shoes and clothes in shades of blue. In the background, an elaborate umber drapery frames a faintly projected image of a young girl.
Marc Bamuthi Joseph, /peh-LO-tah/—a futbol framed freedom suite . .  Photo: Bethanie Hines Photography

Accessible Events

FRI, OCT 6, 7:30 PM
OPEN-CAPTIONED PERFORMANCE

Post-Show Talk

FRI, OCT 6
Stick around after Friday's performance for a post-show discussion with the performers. The talk is led by Yolanda Cursach, MCA Curator of Performance.

About the Artist

Considered "one of the most influential people in dance today," Marc Bamuthi Joseph is an Oakland-based arts educator-activist, writer, and performer. He started on Broadway as a young actor, and has written and performed a series of poetry-based works for the stage that have toured worldwide, including Word Becomes Flesh, the break/s: a mixtape for stage, and red, black & GREEN: a blues, all three of which were presented at MCA Stage. 

Joseph’s commissions include Black Joy in the Hour of Chaos (2015), the libretto for Home in 7 for the Atlanta Ballet (2011), and theater work for South Coast Repertory Theater’s “Crossroads Commissioning Project.” His essays include “Total Chaos: Next Elements” (2007) and “Cultural Transformations: Youth and Pedagogies of Possibility” (2013). He has also lectured at more than 200 colleges. Joseph cofounded Life is Living, a national series of one-day festivals designed to activate under-resourced parks and affirm peaceful urban life. He was named one of America’s “Top Young Innovators” in the Arts and Sciences by Smithsonian Magazine (2007), received the first US Artists Rockefeller Fellowship (2007), and was one of the inaugural Doris Duke Artist Awards recipients (2012). Joseph currently serves as Director of Performing Arts at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

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