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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Close Out Black History Month With 'Spittin' Truth To Power'

 March 2, 2021 at 10:26 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 LA Jolla Playhouse continues to release new digital. Without walls shows online since live performances are still not allowed. It's latest spitting truth to power while light leaping for the people was released during black history month. But its message is timeless came PBS arts reporter Beth Huck Amando speaks with Jacola kitchen. One of the producers from the LA Jolla Playhouse about what to expect from this free three part series. Nicole, tell me what spitting truth to power is and what its origins were. Speaker 2: 00:32 The full title is speaking truth to power while light leaping for the people. And it's a three-part intergenerational musical poem. That is the ying and the yang. That is the ancient and the new, the male and the female. It is an intergenerational piece that was created by two artists, Elise Smith Cooper, who was an octogenarian and Shammie D who is a millennial, uh, both are storytellers Elise, generally through words, Shammy D through music. Speaker 3: 01:04 We, that people rely on rice. We marched sweet arm. We end up flat out into an envy of who we are and what we stand with. Spirits ignites creativity, Speaker 2: 01:20 Switch to digital content about a year ago, last March, when everything shut down, we were very fortunate to immediately be able to shift to this digital world with having done the without walls festival for so many years. And that being a staple of what we do here at the Playhouse, we were able to reach out to many artists who are used to working outside of the walls, the confines of the theater and say, what are you thinking? But like we do with everything that we produce at LA Jolla Playhouse, we went to a community group, the Playhouse leadership council that is a group of community advocates who love theater and love the Playhouse and help us expand who thinks of the playhouses home. Elise Smith Cooper is a time member of PLC. And we went to this group and we said, this is what we're producing. This is what we're doing for this digital world what's missing. And the least said, the, one of the things that's missing is the intergenerational connection. What the old can learn from the young, what the young can learn from the old we're in this place where it's the battle between the millennials and the baby boomers and gen Xers are just somewhere in between, but it's, it's the time for us to be able to listen to each other and learn from one another because our experiences aren't that different. Speaker 1: 02:36 Now I understand this is done kind of in the tradition of [inaudible], but what does that mean? What is that? It's a Western African tradition of storytelling, but what does it mean Speaker 2: 02:47 Exactly that it's a West African tradition of storytelling, but the oral storytelling of carrying on our history through oral storytelling and through music. And this is very much in that tradition because it is it's the music and the words that are carrying on this history. As you'll see in the first piece, the sermon, it really is a look back at what we have overcome the history of African-Americans in this country, all the way up to our very most recent history with the protests that were happening last year after the murders of George Floyd and a mod Aubrey and Brianna Taylor that happened in such a short period of time and people were so angry and it was so reminiscent of what was happening in the civil rights movement and what was happening in the late eighties, early nineties, where people are just crying for justice in the earliest, in the eighties and nineties, it was happening through rap music. That was actually one of the things that we talked about with Elise is she said she wants to find a way to connect to the younger people. And she felt like hip hop, this music, putting it to music as a way to get folks, to listen to the story of their history. So that's part one, the sermon. The second part is a it's it's literally a prayer. It's a prayer for justice. It's a prayer for resolution. It's a prayer for resurrection. Speaker 3: 04:18 Please watch over the families whose children have passed, please peace in their hearts. Speaker 2: 04:25 And the third part is a coming together of a following of the ancestors and realizing that we just have to listen to our history. We have to feel the power of the past that the ancestors have laid for us. Speaker 3: 04:39 So my beloved that's the way it works in those days, the imposter were so sure they had the people that to surrounded in a shroud of darkness, sewn together by hatred, fear, lie. It was so drunk, pride and the air they became bloated. They forged ahead swimming in the blood of innocent feasting on Lynch flat plan to manipulate. Speaker 2: 05:16 It's such a beautiful piece. All three parts altogether are nine minutes. It will be the most powerful nine minutes of your year. Thus far, I can guarantee you Speaker 1: 05:26 Now the video that's called sermon is the one that it has this wonderful sense of anger at injustice and making a statement. And this is the video that you are asking people to engage with in your sermon challenge. So what is that sermon challenge? Speaker 2: 05:44 The sermon challenge is social media campaign that we have started where it is a call to action. What you'll find when you watch the sermon video is the first one minute is a call to worship that is bringing the people together. What we are doing is carrying that on with a call to action, as you'll see the sermon ignites the history and, and the passion and, and what we need in order to move forward. And so what we're asking people to do is respond to that. What does that ignite in you, uh, and to express themselves through poetry, through song, through dance, however you want to respond, we will provide you with a track of just the music, if you want to create your own song or your own poem to go on top of that. And so what does this sermon ignite in you? We challenge you to respond. The sermon challenge is a call to action. Okay. Speaker 1: 06:42 And then once you collect these videos, are they going to be shared on social media, on the website? Speaker 2: 06:46 Yeah, there'll be shared through social media, through Facebook, Instagram, all of the other sites that the young people use that I'm not necessarily well versed on. Uh, I know it is on Tik TOK, so we will just, we will be posting the responses as part of this challenge. Speaker 1: 07:02 And talk a little bit about the production of these videos, because these are well-produced pieces and you've incorporated like a montage of historical images in the first one. So what was the production for this like Speaker 2: 07:16 Approach this project, like a film versus, um, a piece of theater. We had a 14 hour shoot day all done within the California employment rules, all done within safety and COVID compliant, but then Shami D did all of the editing. So Shammy D is, uh, such a multihyphenate artist. He is, he produced all of the music for the piece. This is all of his original music, but we also found out he is a video editor as well. So he created, he edited all of these videos, created the montage. I felt like we had gone back to work, you know, for just a brief moment, I felt like we were doing what we do again, instead of being in front of the screen. Speaker 1: 08:00 All right. I want to thank you very much for talking about speaking truth to power Speaker 2: 08:04 While light leaping for the people. Thank you. Speaker 1: 08:07 It was Beth DACA. Amando speaking with the LA Jolla playhouses Jacola kitchen, the digital without walls show spitting truth to power while light leaping for the people is available for free on the Playhouse as well, Speaker 2: 08:19 Website.

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You can fittingly close out Black History Month with an intergenerational poetry piece called "Spittin’ Truth To Power While Light Leaping For the People."
KPBS Midday Edition Segments