Powerfully Relevamt Story of Being Black in America Comes to North Adams


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. - On Saturday, Oct. 5, MCLA Presents! brings to North Adams the work of Award-winning director/choreographer Marc Bamuthi Joseph - "Word Becomes Flesh."

Co-presented with Williams College, "Word Becomes Flesh" begins at 7:30 p.m. in the MCLA Church Street Center's Eleanor Furst Roberts Auditorium on the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts campus.

The show will be preceded with a discussion at 6 p.m. - "Trayvon, Race and Being a Black Man in America."

A fully staged production currently touring the United States, "Word Becomes Flesh" is played out through a series of performed letters to an unborn son, using spoken word, dance and live music to document nine months of pregnancy from a young, single father's perspective.

"Originally performed as a one person production featuring Marc Bamuthi Joseph, this production is cast with six exceptionally talented poet/performers, all well know in their own fields," said Jonathan Secor, director of the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC). "They fuse tender stories, playful wit - and at times - purposeful rage, giving voice to race and gender issues - issues facing these soon-to be fathers, and issues facing our young people today."

The play integrates hip-hop and contemporary dance to deconstruct black male identity in the 21st century through the sharing of one man's experience of fatherhood.

According to Joseph, "Word Becomes Flesh" director, his theatrical and teaching processes are expressed through hip hop.

"That's because that's where I'm from. The way that I curate is of hip hop, because that's my origin. And so, I just don't represent a way of looking black culture, I represent a different way of looking at hip hop through a creative lens that's also positive, compassionate, political and provocative," Joseph said.

"The people that I looked up to when I was young - Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King - they weren't great by virtue of having a record deal. They were great by virtue of having a struggle and overcoming it. There are a series of under-reported, under-documented narratives around the black male experience. We're not any one thing. We're all of the above," he added.

Each member of the ensemble cast are emcees and spoken word artists who release music independently online and travel around the world with their own projects. However, they are very diverse; some have multiple Ivy League college degrees, others are high school drop outs.

As a result, Joseph explained, the show draws from this spectrum of experience - not only as African American men, but also as artists and actors, as they explore the idea that African American "male hood" is not a monolith.

Prior to the performance, all are invited to a free panel discussion featuring MCLA and Williams professors and students, as well as Berkshire residents.  Entitled "Trayvon, Race and Being a Black Man in America," the panel will explore issues facing African Americans in the Berkshires and beyond.

Tickets to "Word Becomes Flesh" are $10 for general admission. Tickets for MCLA and Williams alumni are $8, $5 for staff and faculty, and non-MCLA and non-Williams students. Tickets for members and MCLA and Williams students are free. Tickets may be reserved by calling MCLA Presents! at (413) 662-5204.~For more information, (413) 664-8718, or go to presents.

MCLA Presents! is a program of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC), a collaborative project with Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) and the City of North Adams. The BCRC provides professional development training, resources and support to the artists, art managers and creative workers of Berkshire County. Through its multiple programs and presentations, BCRC brings the best of performance and art to the Berkshires and showcases the best of the Berkshires to the world.

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