It’s definitely a propitious second for a theatrical live performance celebrating hashish to hit New York’s off-off-Broadway scene, because the Empire State this yr really legalized.
5 years within the making, Cannabis! A Viper Vaudeville seeks to be didactic as properly a enjoyable, tracing the plant from its origins on the distant steppes of Central Asia straight via the hip-hop tradition that animates the present.
The greening of NYC theater scene
Hashish! will probably be carried out January 8 via 15 at La Mama, a legendary venue within the East Village, as a part of the Prototype Festival, a city-wide exhibiting of recent off-beat or ground-breaking works.
The central figures within the manufacturing are Grace Galu, composer, performer and musical director; and Baba Israel, author, performer and co-director. The seven-piece ensemble Soul Inscribed will probably be joined by dancers from the MacArthur award-winning troupe Urban Bush Women, and the “krumping” sensation Rocka Jamez.
“There will probably be choreography for each music, for a way of story-telling and theatricality,” Israel says. He describes the work as a “absolutely immersive multi-media efficiency.”
Set designer Nic Benacerraf has one thing of a household connection to Israel, who’s the offspring of two veteran members of the pioneering experimental troupe, the Living Theatre, Steve Ben Israel and Pamela Mayo. Benacerraf later additionally worked with the Residing Theatre.
Galu, Israel and their collaborators have a residency at HERE, the identical Decrease Manhattan theater that was an incubator for The Vagina Monologues and groundbreaking efficiency artist Taylor Mac.
Social historical past via music
Hashish! is definitely conceived as a musical and theatrical adaptation of the guide Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana—Medical, Recreational and Scientific by Venture CBD director Martin A. Lee, a complete work printed by Scribner in 2012. The musical choices are supposed to illustrate steps alongside the best way within the evolution of hashish tradition.
These embody “La Cucaracha,” the marijuana-glorifying anthem of the Mexican Revolution, Ella Fitzgerald’s “Once I Get Low I Get Excessive,” the Beatles’ “(I Get Excessive) With a Little Assist from My Pals,” Bob Dylan’s “Wet Day Ladies” (with its chorus of “Everyone should get stoned”), and Bob Marley’s “Kaya.”
Among the many unique songs developed by Galu, Israel and their collaborators are homages to Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary (Mary Jane Rathbun), two legendary figures who made hashish out there to the ailing throughout the AIDS disaster in San Francisco within the Nineties—a interval that actually spawned the present worldwide push for legalization.
A fortuitous second
Israel displays on the fortuitous second for the present’s opening, months after hashish turned legal in New York state. “Once I began engaged on the present 5 years in the past, legalization felt much more distant. I anticipated the present to be extra of a platform to advocate for legalization in New York, to be a part of that mobilization. Now it’s turning out to be extra of a celebration.”
He’s fast to emphasise, nonetheless: “However it’s nonetheless federally unlawful, and the best way legalization has been unfolding in different states has been problematic. There’s nonetheless a number of work to be performed.”
Every efficiency of Hashish! is to be adopted by a panel dialogue or presentation by an activist group, “to deal with a few of the points that have to be resolved in New York and federally,” Israel says. Scheduled members embody representatives from the National Cannabis Party and the New Jersey-based Hashish Training & Analysis Institute (CERI).
Israel sums up the manufacturing’s imaginative and prescient: “This material wants an actual present that may honor the counterculture historical past, from the jazz musicians via the Beat era, via the AIDS activism of the Nineties. We wish to honor the richness of the custom, and ensure that how we obtained to legalization doesn’t get whitewashed, as they are saying. And to recollect who’s affected by the battle on medication, keep in mind the cultures which have nurtured this plant via prohibition.”
Tickets could be bought here.