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KPBS Midday Edition

Hip-Hop Production 'The Best Goodbye' Hits San Diego Stage

Gill Sotu, playwright, "The Best Goodbye"
Holly Haines Photography
Gill Sotu, playwright, "The Best Goodbye"

Hip-Hop Production ‘The Best Goodbye’ Hits San Diego Stage
Hip-Hop Production 'The Best Goodbye' Hits San Diego Stage GUEST: Gill Sotu, playwright, "The Best Goodbye"

Spot this is "KPBS Mid-Day Edition" . I am Maureen Cavanaugh. [ Music ] -- That's from one of the big -- great hip-hop artists of the 90s the notorious big I -- BIG. "The best goodbye" is a plane by local DJ, musician, public, Gill Sotu. Is a time that he knows well.'s experience as a suburban kid loving urban rap shapes this story. I spoke with Gill Sotu about this play, "The best goodbye" and his theater company. Thank you for coming. Thank you for having me. You are a composer and DJ and poet. You have now added playwright to your resume. What draws you to the theater? The same thing that draws me to performance poetry. It's the energy that exchanges between the audience and the performers, the immediate gratification of having that applause at the end. The electricity of being able to create these stories and transfer people to different worlds, is really the reason. Is it different? Is that energy a different kind of energy than when you are doing your spoken word? For me as a writer, a little bit. When I am doing my spoken word, then I am doing this directly. When I am creating theater, then I am writing different characters. I am feeling it, if watching it from the audience perspective, I am feeling it in a different way but it is still exciting. I am still awestruck being able to sit and watch something that I just thought of while I was driving or eating a meal and here it is come to life. Wow! It must be something. Without giving too much away, can you give us the basic premise of "The best goodbye." It is set in 1996 and is about four kids in a rap group. It's a coming-of-age story, deciding what they want to do with the rest of their lives. I place this in Oxnard California where I am from. I wanted to tell the suburban story of hip-hop, usually we hear hip-hop tales told the New York and LA and things like that. Me and my friends are the ones who bought all the music and new all of the histories. What happens is one of the characters season old man die at his house. He goes in and discovers all of this musical equipment. You get the right idea that we can sell this and pay for our awesome demo. This is before people could make music with their laptop. At stake all of this before anyone discovers the body and make an awesome demo. While they are there, a lot of things happen. People come over that night and are not expecting them. May fight about whether or not to do it. They also find the Journal of the old man who died. They learn about his life through the ghost of this man. There's a lot of things going on in this decision on whether or not they are going to Rob this guy to make a better life. What is the title -- what does the title tranXXXI mean -- Gill Sotu 1 -- "The Best Goodbye" mean. They all have their different interpretations of what the best goodbye for your life is. You say that where this play is placed is based on where you grew up in your connection with rap and hip-hop being a suburban kid rather than an urban kid. Do you identify with any of the characters in the play? Definitely, the beautiful thing about poetry and playwriting is I can tell little embarrassing stories about myself through different characters and no one is the wiser. A lot of the stories they tell actually happened to me. The premise happened to me where we found a house and hung out and had a party in an empty house that we found. There was no dead body of course. I think mainly the main character is the closest to me. There is a little bit of me in each of the characters. If someone in the audience going to "The Best Goodbye" doesn't share your experience of growing up with hip-hop and rap is a major part of their life, will display still have meaning for them? Yes, everyone got to that point when they were out of high school and decided what they wanted to do. You have all of these influences. You see -- you are attracted to the things that you saw on TV. You are influenced by your friends and family as well. Everyone had their opinion on what you should do with your life. That is a huge component of what this play is about. You are the first artist in residence at the Jacob center for renovation. How do you see your role at the Jacob center. --? That goes along with my purpose in life. I discovered a long time ago with my poetry and anything that I do, even my DJ eating, -- even my DJ job, my job is to connect with people, different people within the same democratic -- demographic. It's my job to celebrate our differences and show what connects us. The Jacobs Center show the things people would relate to and then I also have different events such as when I produced the poets and painters Festival which is the celebration of graffiti and the spoken word. We had every type of people there. That's the thing. There are so many ways in this society right now that we are taught to be separate. We need that balance to show us that we are connected in a lot of ways. The same poetry I can do in a bar, I can do it a church or school. There's something that's going to connect with people, may be different things within the same home but something will connect them. That's why I think my role is important at the Jacobs Center. I have been talking with Gill Sotu. This opens in University Heights the Saturday night. Gill, it has been a pleasure. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

The '90s rap and hip-hop music scene is the backdrop for a new play set to open in San Diego this weekend.

It's a sound and a time spoken word poet and San Diego playwright Gill Sotu knows well. His experience as a suburban urban-rap-loving kid shaped his new production, “The Best Goodbye”.

“It’s a coming-of-age story about kids growing up in the suburbs listening to hip-hop trying to discover who they are and trying to figure out what is a good life,” said Sotu, who's an artist in residence at The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.

The story follows four young hip-hop artists who come across the dead body of a former Motown musician. The characters are confronted with a dilemma when one of them suggests robbing the dead musician to help pay for their own album.

Community theater group Circle Circle Dot Dot collaborated with Sotu on the production and is presenting the piece at Park Arts Black Box theater in University Heights.

"We are so excited to present this fresh and riveting new production by Gill Sotu, who has one of the strongest artistic voices in San Diego," said Katie Harroff, artistic director of Circle Circle Dot Dot a statement. "His humor and heart and gift for poetic language thrives in 'Best.' We're presenting it in an incredibly intimate space with gifted new performers and are very excited to share this work with our audiences."

Sotu previews "The Best Goodbye" Thursday on KPBS Midday Edition.