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Hip Hop Hits the Stage

UC Riverside Center for Ideas and Society Hosts Southern California Hip Hop Theater Festival

Free, Public Event Will Include Several Performances

(November 6, 2002)

Eds Note: Bios of artists, and a full schedule of events, are included.

RIVERSIDE, Calif., Nov. 6, 2002 -- A Southern California Hip Hop Theater Festival will draw the brightest lights of the newly emerging genre to the University of California, Riverside from 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16.

The free festival, to be held in Watkins 1000 and room 1500 of the Humanities and Social Sciences building, will include a “poetry slam” as well as several solo performances featuring the rich language, style and sound unique to the hip hop culture. Space is limited.

The event is sponsored by the UC Riverside Center for Ideas and Society and funded by a generous grant from the Ford Foundation on “Intellectual Diversity and Excellence.” The Center fosters collaborative and interdisciplinary research, performances and conferences in areas that advance the understanding of human experience.

“Just as Jazz was a new art form in the 19th and 20th centuries, hip hop represents an artistic explosion of the late 20th and early 21st centuries,” said Emory Elliott, director of the Center. “Its artists draw upon diverse culture heritages: African, Euro-American, Caribbean, and Asian and they borrow from Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, black orator, and evangelical preaching, traditions of social and political protest. It is an original American art form, but its sources and influences are global.”

Danny Hoch, Aya de Leon, Will Power and Jonzi D are scheduled to perform original hip-hop theater pieces, said Rickerby Hinds, an award-winning playwright and screenwriter who is a visiting assistant professor of theatre at UC Riverside. “This is a different kind of theater, one created by and for the hop hop generation,” said Hinds, the organizer of the event. “This generation grew up on MTV, Nintendo, the Internet, live wars televised on CNN, AIDS, and instant communication,” he said. “Their way of looking at the world has been changed.”

The festival, Hinds said, speaks to issues at the heart of this new art form, including identifying the hip hop theater aesthetic; determining what is new and what is duplication; negotiating the conflict between hip hop’s focus on clothes, shoes and jewelry and the idea of accessibility to all people; and understanding the global implications of hip hop.

Maps and directions to UCR can be found on the university's web site at Visitor parking costs between $4 and $6 per vehicle.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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