[An illustrated image black, red and orange with the words HYPE MAN in the center. A man figure holds a microphone on the right of the image. The words “WHAT’S THAT NOW?” appear at the center of the image]

What’s that now? Hype Man

It’s a breakbeat play about soul, resistance, and who is obligated to react in times of community crisis.

Frontman, hype man, and beatmaker are on the verge of making it big when the shooting of an unarmed black teen shakes the community. What results is tough conversations about racism, sexism, police brutality, and what it means to be an ally, especially as an artist.

It’s a play ripped from right now. And there’s so much more to Hype Man.

[a few scenes from HYPE MAN, featuring Pinnacle (played by Michael Knowlton), Verb (played by Kadahj Bennett), Peep One (played by Rachel Cognata) ]

Now what’s that you ask? What’s a breakbeat?

Glad you asked. A breakbeat is any spot in a song where a killer drum solo kicks in. You can usually find these in funk and soul songs from the 1950s and 60s. But when music mixers from the 80s got the idea in their heads to sample breakbeats on a loop in their songs, they quickly became the backbone of rap and hip-hop tracks for generations of artists.

Now a hype man is sort of like a back-up rapper who keeps the audience “hyped” by interjecting and emphasizing the main rap (they also give the frontman a much-needed breather). The hype man’s role is essential to a good track, but where they really shine is on the stage.

[a few scenes from HYPE MAN, featuring Pinnacle (played by Michael Knowlton), Verb (played by Kadahj Bennett), Peep One (played by Rachel Cognata) ]

Meet the crew

First came frontman Pinnacle (Michael Knowlton) and his hype man, Verb (Kadahj Bennett), and now with a beatmaker called Peep One (Rachel Cognata) on board, the trio is ready to rock the hip-hop world. At least, they were, until the shooting of an unarmed black teen in their neighborhood rocks the community.

An interracial trio, Verb and Peep One are now at odds with their frontman, Pinnacle, a white rapper who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the rest of his crew when it comes to issues of race and privilege. After all, the crew all grew up in the same place, lived through the same circumstances–so what’s the difference?

[The headshot of LAVINA JADHWANI, the director of GLORIA]

You can walk outta here and never think about race again.

Yeah, that’s the difference.

At the intersection of art and politics, Hype Man asks what it means to be an artist in a boiling political climate. Are artists obligated to address political issues in their communities? Whose responsibility is it? What does it mean to be a white ally to communities of color, or a male ally fighting sexism? Get ready to search deep.

If you still need more convincing, read some of the hype:

‘“Hype Man’’ has things to say and it says them, emphatically”- Boston Globe:

‘“Hype Man’’ finds [playwright] Goodwin again exploring the hip-hop milieu, but this time very much in the present day, blending a torn-from-the-headlines, Black Lives Matter immediacy with the razor-sharp characterizations that have been among his consistent strengths. In “Hype Man’’ Goodwin makes perhaps his strongest case yet for hip-hop culture as a crucible where issues of racial identity, gender inequity, career ambition, and friendship converge and collide in illuminating ways.”

I want to use the theatre as a venue to wrestle with our national sicknesses but also a place to nod heads in unison, as we collectively imagine towards liberation. HYPE MAN, this latest entry into my break beat plays series, exemplifies this desire.

Idris Goodwin, playwright

THE PEOPLE

SHAWN LACOUNT

SHAWN LACOUNT

Director
MICHAEL KNOWLTON

MICHAEL KNOWLTON

Pinnacle in Hype Man
KADAHJ BENNETT

KADAHJ BENNETT

Verb in Hype Man
RACHEL COGNATA

RACHEL COGNATA

Peep One in Hype Man

© 2018 — Mixed Blood Theatre