By Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
©Gia On The Move 2022
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“In life everyone loses something. But in rap, everybody wins.”
Hank, Julian, and Luann are three talented, determined Midwest suburban teens coming of age in 1988. Dreaming of fame and fortune in the new Hip-Hop music scene, they must overcome cultural isolation, familial dysfunction, and ruthless rivalries to make the music that defines their lives. As a sultry DJ spins their stories with her own meta-theatrical perspective in this contemporary ode to the roots of rap, the teens find their connection to each other and their creativity. *
I’m just gonna say it upfront…Idris Goodwin’s HOW WE GOT ON directed by Sacred Fools Theater Company’s Jamie Robledo, is effen amazing! And let me tell you why.
High Energy. OMG! The actors are kinetically empowered. Not with just the enthusiasm of youth but with a real connection to the material. It means something. Everyone on stage registers a natural affinity with Goodwin’s words, thoughts, emotions and actions. There is so much at stake for these kids. It is deeply profound.
Power. If ever I witnessed impact on stage before, this was a spectacular expression of it. From voice to emotional resonance to 80s suburban physicality, E.E. Williams (Hank), Isaac Cruz (Julian), Angela Oliver (Luann) and Jacquelin Lorraine Schofield (Selector/DJ) are respectively intelligent, hilarious and extremely fun.
Vocal Presence. Like, if you opened the doors to the theater, I’d dare say, these actors would be heard across the Santa Monica Boulevard. And I almost wish they would. Because, it kind of blew my mind that there wasn’t enough of a draw for the Friday night show I attended. And there needs to be. Because…
Messaging. While we are currently celebrating Black History Month, this is an exciting example of iconic living music culture that continues to evolve today. Whether or not you are a fan of hip hop and rap, what reverberates are the incredibly strong points of view and overall teenage wonder that is deeply embedded in the life of this script. And I say this all with authority.
I was an urban teenager in the early 80s when clubbing was the center of the universe. Every week we danced to the top ten countdown and reveled in the ecstatic freedom of music. Music was life. So when the phenomenon of rap and hip hop crash-landed onto the scene like a meteor, it was an inferno that had us all gasping for air. I mean NOTHING prepared us for it. Rap suddenly changed the direction of everything. In that moment, rap changed the world.
Idris Goodwin’s script is so insightful. It is breathtaking in its recall of the time period. Jamie Robledo’s direction absolutely gets out of the way to what is already there and gives these performers the freedom to be one with the moment.
Set design (Michéal David Ricks), lighting (Derrick McDaniel), costuming (Mylette Nora), choreography (Lynn Adriana Freedman), sound (Nyla Hull), beats (Sean Kantrowitz), projection (Brian Wallis), video (Corwin Evans) and more (full cast & crew credits here) are neatly positioned. I only had a problem with one stage direction in the entire evening. I am not a particular fan of actors’ backs to the audience – ever. It immediately disconnects me from the life of a piece. But that’s a personal preference. Everything in this show otherwise works wonderfully in the Broadwater Black Box.
HOW WE GOT ON is a fine choice by producer Scott Leggett and a dynamic presentation by Sacred Fools Theatre Company overall.
Photos by Jessica Sherman
Lead photo: Jacquelin Lorraine Schofield (as Selector)
HOW WE GOT ON by Idris Goodwin
Friday, January 28th – February 19, 2022
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, Sundays at 5:00pm.
The Broadwater Black Box, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., LA CA 90038
Proof of full vaccination plus booster required for entry. Masks must be worn over the nose and mouth at all times in the theater.
TICKETS: $15 – $35