Monday, October 10, 2016

bring the beat back: my story behind messages from mamaship

Me - at the very first performance of the project in 2009.
Bring the Beat Back is a black, gay, sci-fi music theater experience.   
And it’s evolving into something more queer and afro-futuristic than its prior iterations.

I’m very excited about where it’s headed.

This Saturday October 15th, an exciting roster of collaborating talent (on stage and behind the scenes) will join me in a work-in-progress presentation:  messages from mamaship.

messages from mamaship builds on all of the hard work that’s gone into Bring the Beat Back off and on for the past few years.

I wrote the original draft of the play in 2009 during my playwright’s residency with Andre Lancaster's Freedomtrain Productions in Brooklyn. The residency culminated in two staged reading performances, directed by Christopher Burris.

2009 Reading
Front Row: Christopher Burris, Fatimah Quander and Shydel James
Second Row: Penny Danielle Tinsley, Johnny Ramey and Jerome Braggs

Lee Avent, Vandit Bhatt and Yours Truly
2009 Photography by Sabelo Narasimhan

After a break, in 2012, Bryan E. Glover's Earthseed Visions hosted a private reading (also directed by Burris) to kick off the next phase of creative development.  

The story reflects my personal challenges and contradictions as a black, gay man coming of age in the early 21st century, refracted through a digitized, psychedelic, groove-centered theater prism.

This is why Bring the Beat Back is so important to me, and also what sets it apart as a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience.

Since moving to Chicago, the project has kicked into high gear!

In 2014, I partnered with Alinka and Shaun J. Wright of TWIRL RECORDINGS  to explore the project’s relationship with house music. (Shaun J. Wright also put together the looks for the 2009 performances, btw.) 

And last year, after an intense planning period here in Chicago and New York with Bryan E. Glover and Rhonney Greene (Under the Spell Productions' Artistic Director), I set things in motion for what’s happening now.

The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events awarded me an Individual Artists Grant this year for Bring the Beat Back, giving us a much needed boost in funding. 

I activated resources with my sister’s team at BLKBOX to develop a visual motif for the project.

And I established a collaborative partnership with producer Myra Boone and two lead artists here in Chicago to focus on the music:  avery r. young and alexa grae.

avery r. young and alexa grae

This Saturday we’re going to share what we’ve come up with, testing the new material on its feet and hopefully building momentum to future presentations.

I have a lot more to say about what’s happening, including shout outs to everybody who has helped carry the project this far. But in short, I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’m so grateful to be at this point.  

So I’m sharing now to say THANK YOU!


a live presentation exploring the world of Derek Lee McPhatter’s
afro futuristic music-theater work in progress

avery r young
Tina M. Howell
Kameco Dodd
Marcus Davis
  Kyra Jones

 Alexa Grae
(via Two-Way TV)

Hijo Pródigo
on the 1’s and 2’s

mistrexx of Lqqks: ester “fempow” alegria  video: King is a Fink

Produced by: Derek Lee McPhatter & Myra Boone

7:30 PM @ Reunion  - 2557 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

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