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First Wave ensemble premieres ‘Boomboxed’

December 2, 2008

The Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI) will present the First Wave Hip Hop Theater Ensemble in another original work, “Boomboxed,” Friday-Saturday, Dec. 12-13, at the Hemsley Theatre in Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave.

In the production, the First Wave freshman cohort introduces the radio in a physical, lyrical and performance-centered interpretation, fusing spoken word, dance, traditional theater and music to bring grassroots expressions, through the radio, alive on stage.

Going through the speakers and into the lives of the people who create the stories, “Boomboxed” is a hip-hop theater work that plunges into the world of radio, which for many is an escape into music, story, fiction and nonfiction. “Boomboxed” explores issues such as HIV/AIDS, the music industry, unfiltered news, stereotypes, poverty and immigration, while maintaining the breath of fresh air that is the radio.

The ensemble is the artistic outgrowth of the First Wave Spoken Word and Urban Arts Learning Community. This cutting-edge multicultural artistic program for incoming students at UW–Madison brings together young artists and leaders from across the country. First Wave offers students the opportunity to live, study and create together in a close-knit, dynamic campus community and is the first university program in the country centered on spoken word and hip-hop culture.

From new hit singles to radio dramas, the cohort writes and performs its work, with staging and direction formed out of a collaborative workshop process facilitated by Chris Walker, the ensemble’s artistic director and assistant professor in the Dance Program, and Rafael Casal, the ensemble’s creative director and HBO Def Poet.

“As we continue to investigate the natural theatrical underpinnings of hip hop, this new work captures the stories that this generation of poets want to share: their own,” says Walker. “The writers are the performers and are engaged in every part of the process, which encourages deeper commitment and ownership of the stories and maintains authenticity in the writing and performance of material that remains honest and true to form in content, while engaging new possibilities through collaboration in performance.”

“Boomboxed” will be performed at 8 p.m. on Dec. 12-13 at Vilas Hall. General admission tickets are $10 or $5 for all students with ID. A special free matinee for high school students with current ID will be held at 5 p.m. on Dec. 13. Tickets are available at the theater but may be reserved by calling OMAI at 608-890-1055.