Pictured, from left to right: Tommy Shepherd, Theaster Gates, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Traci Tolmaire. Photo by Bethanie Hines.
Pictured, from left to right: Theaster Gates, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Traci Tolmaire, Tommy Shepherd. Photo by Bethanie Hines.
Annenberg Center Live brought Oakland-based arts activist and National Poetry Slam champion Marc Bamuthi Joseph to Philadelphia in September 2012 for a six-day residency and the regional premiere of his work red black & GREEN: a blues. This interactive show, which combines installation and performance art with theater, focuses on environmental justice in urban contexts. Audiences were invited to walk on the set, which consisted of four sectioned-off rooms, designed by visual artist Theaster Gates and each representing a different city: Oakland, New York City, Houston, and Chicago. The rooms reflected stories from citizens who lived in those cities and participated in Joseph's Life Is Living project: a series of gatherings in public parks intended to engage citizens from under-resourced areas with environmental issues affecting their communities. Citizens' stories appeared on the walls of the set as projected videos, murals, and text, and were performed in staged conversations, narratives, and songs by the four cast members.
Audiences had opportunities to discuss environmental issues with Joseph on stage after each performance and during his residency. Ancillary programming included a hands-on program of exercises in writing and performing poetry; a Sustainability Forum led by Joseph and a panel of community development experts; and a pre-show poetry slam with top high school poets from the Philly Youth Poetry Movement.
Click here to see a trailer of red black & GREEN: a blues. Click here to see a video conversation about the collaboration between Joseph, Gates, and the Walker Art Center's Philip Bither.