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Reviewed by:
  • Buckworld One
  • Megan Anne Todd
Buckworld One. By Rickerby Hinds. Directed by Rickerby Hinds. Choreographed by Carrie Mikuls. Performance in the Borderlands, Lyceum Theatre, Tempe, AZ. 3 April 2010.

Buckworld One, an evocative hip-hop theatre performance, explored expansive stories of the human condition, spiritual development, and the state of the world through krump dancing, poetry, music, and projected imagery. Moving fluidly through time from the beginnings of the universe to the birth of the (US) nation, to the inland empire of California (a colloquial term used to distinguish the inland from the coastal region of Southern California) back to the nation and the individual, Buckworld One interrogated human purpose on earth, spirituality, ignorance, (in)justice, loss, and love. Using hip-hop aesthetics as a foundation for the production, playwright and director Rickerby Hinds masterfully employed the element of DJing to resituate historical and contemporary epochs and to highlight contemporary struggles for social justice.

In Buckworld, the hip-hop art of DJing, in which music is stopped and started, sped up and slowed down, cut and rewoven, reversed and replayed, invoked a fluidity of time and allowed moments either 200 or forty years in the past to speak in lively dialogue to each other and to the present. The narrative was not linear, but consisted instead of moments of friction and evocative spaces for questioning, grieving, outrage, complicit witnessing, love, and celebration—all conveyed by poetry, dance, music, and imagery. Similarly, the intensity, commitment, and conviction of krump dancing's assertive, physical charge provided a visceral voice that pushed beyond predictable boundaries of aesthetic, social, and theatrical conventions, evoking a sense of kinesthetic empathy. These transformational moments carried the seeds of social justice to the audience. These spaces of response invited the audience to consider again and again the reverberations of history in contemporary US society and how we choose to live in the present.

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Davion Clayton, Alexander Brown Hinds, and Jarrett Lacey in Buckworld One.

(Photo: Kurt Wilson, courtesy of Rickerby Hinds.)

In the section titled "Middle Passage," for example, an audio track described the horrific passage when millions of African people died, while projected images of a slave ship, enslaved peoples, and text describing the sale of enslaved African people cycled behind four male dancers moving, bound together, across a blue-lit stage. As the music swelled and the scene ended, the men removed the rope and dispersed, leaving one dancer standing [End Page 127] onstage, bathed in the bright white spotlight, holding a noose around his neck. He remained eerily still and silent, an effigy, echoing the horrors of the abhorrent history of lynching black men in the US. Two female poets then entered on either side and delivered Langston Hughes's poem "Let America Be America Again." One poet punctuated the last lines of the poem, "America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath—America will be!" The second poet echoed, "Will be." Hughes's poem, originally published in 1938, issues a national call for social justice, then and now, simultaneously looking back and forward. The subsequent calls and responses rippled across time, space, and geography. The sonic reverberations and visual image of lynching implicated the audience as witness to the deep disparities between the doctrine of freedom and democracy and the lived realities. The poem not only enacts a historical thread within and context for the performance, but also serves as the entry point for interrogating monolithic claims of US freedom and democracy. As a political act, this performance made visible a history that cannot be denied, but is often rendered invisible through ruses of power. The DJing style actived Hughes's poem so that it spoke directly to contemporary struggles for social justice. We have only to consider Arizona's recent law on immigration (SB1070) to apprehend why modes of advocacy for social justice like Buckworld One are vitally important.

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Evan Harris, Timothy Dupree, Christopher "Cornbread" Jackson, Davion Clayton, D'metrius Welch, Jarrett Lacey, and Tyrone Sutton in Buckworld One.

(Photo: Kurt Wilson, courtesy of Rickerby Hinds.)

Mapping specific experiences sonically, visually, and viscerally...


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pp. 127-129
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