February 9, 2007
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—The Amherst College Martin Luther King, Jr. Planning Committee will sponsor the powerful hip-hop theater production Dreamscape on Friday, March 2, and Saturday, March 3, at 8 p.m. in Kirby Theater at Amherst College as part of its ongoing celebration of the birth of the civil rights activist. Written by innovative playwright Rickerby Hinds and directed by Manu Mukasa, an assistant professor of theater and dance at Amherst, the one-woman show brings together acting, dance, DJing and verse to tell a story based on the 1998 shooting of a 19-year-old African-American woman, Tyisha Miller, at the hands of four California police officers. The show is free and open to the public, and no reservations are necessary.

The plot of Dreamscape contrasts the innocence of a character called Myeisha Mills, a Southern California teenager, with the brutal details of her death, while exploring the timely issue of institutionalized racism in the United States.The show uses an intense inner monologue form to tell its story, while drawing on the language of the blossoming hip-hop theater genre, whose diverse media styles uniquely grounded in hip hop minority culture suit it to such a performance. Hip-hop theater grew out of the efforts of various professional theater artists who translated their early experiences with hip-hop music into a formal theatrical setting. The genre often mixes traditional hip-hop styles such as b-boying (breakdancing) and MCing (rapping/singing) with traditional verse. Hip-hop theater is often compared to Shakespearean verse plays.

Dreamscape will introduce hip-hop theater to Western Massachusetts with Mukasa’s production on Friday, Feb. 16, and Saturday, Feb. 17, at Open Square in Holyoke, Mass., and from Friday, Feb. 23 through Monday, Feb. 26, at the Fuller Arts Center at Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., before concluding with the two performances at Amherst College. For more information about the Amherst performances, call the Theater and Dance Department at 413/542-2411.