In their first co-producing endeavor, HERE and the Hip-Hop Theater Festival in association with Collective Consciousness Theatre present the world premiere of How to Break, a new play fueled by human beat-boxing, breaking, popping and locking, linguistic flow and multimedia graffiti art. This production will play a limited engagement at HERE from October 18 – November 4, with Official Opening set for Tuesday, October 23 at 7:00pm.
A collaboration between playwright Aaron Jafferis, director Christopher V. Edwards, breaking pioneers Kwikstep and Rokafella, beatboxers Adam Matta and Yako 440 and composer Rebecca Hart, How to Break tracks a socially awkward pediatric hematologist, a music therapist/yoga teacher and a nurse with a beatboxing problem, doing their best not to screw up two hospitalized teenagers, Joel and Keisha. Meanwhile, Joel – an impulsive but intuitive b-boy living with sickle cell anemia – and Keisha, a fiercely independent b-girl recently diagnosed with leukemia – chart their own course, along the way finding surprising connection and a radically new definition for what it means to be "ill."
How to Break was developed at the 2010 and 2011 Oregon Shakespeare Festival Mixing Texts convening. Further development occurred in a 2012 Critical Breaks workshop produced by HERE and the Hip-Hop Theater Festival (HHTF). This premiere is being presented as part of HERE's startHERE Program: Innovative Theatre for Young People, through which HERE presents works for youth and family audiences.
Writer Aaron Jafferis' musicals Kingdom (Richard Rodgers Award, NYMF Most Promising New Musical), Stuck Elevator (Creative Capital Award, NEFA National Theatre Pilot), Blood Magic, Shakespeare: The Remix and No Lie have been produced, presented, or developed by The Old Globe, The Public Theater, Sundance Theatre Lab, Atlantic Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and others. He was honored with the 2012 Thomas Barbour Playwright's Award for How to Break. He has written poetry for the Urban Bush Women and The Nation, and performed at the Kennedy Center and the National Poetry Slam Championships, where he is a former Open Rap Slam champion. Jafferis received a BA in Arts & Social Change from the University of California at Berkeley, studied at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and received an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU, where he was an Alberto Vilar Global Fellow in the Performing Arts. He teaches poetry and hip-hop theater in schools, hospitals, health centers, community organizations, and detention centers in his hometown of New Haven, CT.
Director Christopher V. Edwards is the Associate Artistic Director and Director of Education for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. He is the co-founder of Point of Entry Theater in NYC. He has acted in London's West End, Off-Broadway, internationally and in regional theaters. He has directed work at Capital Rep., Vermont Stage Co., Nevada Conservatory Theater, Lincoln Center's "Meet the Artists" Program, St. Michael's Playhouse, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Directing credits include: Seven Guitars, I Have Before Me A Remarkable Document Given To Me By A Young Lady From Rwanda, Master Harold…and the boys, Shakespeare the Remix, The Bomb-itty of Errors, Around the World in 80 Days, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, A Winter's Tale, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. Originally from Las Vegas, he received his MFA from the U. of MN.
Gabriel "Kwikstep" Dionisio (choreography) is a hip-hop dancer/choreographer/director born and raised in New York City. He has won a Bessie Award for choreography, was a principal dancer in Rhythm Technicians and GhettOriginal (creators of Jam on the Groove, Off-Broadway), and established the non-profit hip-hop collective Full Circle Productions with his wife Rokafella.
New York-bred hip-hop pioneer Ana "Rokafella" Garcia (choreography) is known for her high-impact dance style and as an educator and community leader. She runs the hip-hop collective Full Circle Productions with her husband Kwikstep, and has performed around the world and in NYC (New Victory, The Apollo, BAM).