“The invigorating, near-Shakespearean rap drama Kingdom... [is] innovatively intelligent…sobering, unflinching. The score is the first I’ve experienced to make a viable case for rap and hip-hop as theatre music… Jafferis and Williams are worthy musical inheritors of Shakespeare’s legacy.” – TalkinBroadway.com
By aaron | Published: February 12, 2016
Smooth Criminal is my new work-in-progress telling the story of a nerdy New Haven kid desperate to liberate his people – as soon as he can figure out who they are. Based on my almost-entirely-true-but-don’t-fact-check-with-my-parents life story, this sneak peak bumps and grinds New Haven’s race and class issues with my own. Directed by Will MacAdams. A benefit for Collective Consciousness Theatre. Thursday-Saturday February 18-20 @ 8pm @ Erector Square**, 315 Peck St, New Haven. Tickets: $20 adults, $5 students, Thursday pay-what-you-can.
By aaron | Published: February 6, 2016
CEIO’s latest Deeper Change forum explores Art Interrupting Injustice with performances and workshops by Hanifa Washington, Jason Dorsey, Lara Herscovitch and me. Hear just raps, poems, songs, theatre, and projects; make your own. Tuesday February 9, 9am-12pm or 9am-3pm @ 1253 Whitney Ave, Hamden. Register for free here.
By aaron | Published: January 12, 2016
Hospitalized young people at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital created some wild songs and raps about diabetes, Sonic the Hedgehog, and other important topics with me and Hear Your Song (a group of Yale musicians); we will now perform them with wild abandon at the aptly named (and free) Hear Your Song Fest this Friday February 5 @ 6pm @ 100 Wall St, New Haven. RSVP here.
By aaron | Published: January 1, 2016
2015 was a year of finally getting busy with some of my secret artist crushes. First I got to wear a one-piece soldier costume and fabulous hair in A Broken Umbrella Theatre’s collaboration with the Shubert Theatre, SEEN CHANGE.
Then, Collective Consciousness Theatre brought How to Break, my hip-hop play about being ill, to Hartford with our partner in crime (and theatre for social change) HartBeat Ensemble. Check out my conversation about sickle cell disease, hip-hop theatre, and vulnerability with Virginia Pertillar, Executive Director of Citizens for Quality Sickle Cell Care.
Along with some of my biggest playwright crushes (David Henry Hwang, Lynn Nottage, Kris Diaz, Dominique Morisseau), I wrote a play for Oregon Shakespeare Festival and One-Minute Play Festival’s Every 28 Hours festival in Ferguson and St. Louis.
Byron Au Yong and I gave New York Theatre Workshop googly eyes while they workshopped Stuck Elevator at Dartmouth, where we got to work with Ed Sylvanus Iskander and go on wacky field trips.
Byron and I continued developing Trigger at residencies with Virginia Tech, Weston Playhouse, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, and, most recently, the Millay Colony for the Arts, where I got to write in the barn Edna St. Vincent Millay built, pick apples from the tree she planted, and hold hands with her ghost.
And, in what’s turning into a longterm love story (not just a crush), The Word’s 2015 Citywide Poetry Jam mobilized over 100 fiery young New Haven poets and emcees (join out Facebook group to connect to the 2016 Jam).
By aaron | Published: August 7, 2014
How to Break was showcased at the 2014 National Alliance for Musical Theatre festival in NYC. Collective Consciousness’s production moved from New Haven (Oct 2013) to the hip-hop theatre festival SPKRBOX at the National Theatre of Norway (Mar 2014) to Hartbeat in 2015. If you’re a theatre that wants the freshest 5-person (total cast + musicans) musical about a children’s hospital ever, you better ask somebody.
Kingdom was selected for the Village Theatre Festival of New Musicals in Issaquah, WA.
Stuck Elevator recently won two San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards, including Best Original Musical.
Untitled Prison Play: Thanks to my 2nd fellowship at the MacDowell Colony, I finally get to start working on my collaboration with Antonio Fernandez (formerly King Tone, Inca of the New York Latin Kings) about his time in prison.
By aaron | Published: July 22, 2014
This year 100 students at 12 New Haven schools wrote original poems and raps published in a chapbook or performed at two Citywide Youth Poetry Jams. (Check out articles in the Independent, Register, and a special feature on Solar Youth poets, with videos!) They were helped by 3 poets-in-residence and 20 classroom teachers and organizers. If you were one of those who made it happen, thank you. If not, here’s how you can be down in 2014-15:
If you are a New Haven middle school or high school student poet, emcee or spoken word artist, contact me to be a part of next year’s Citywide Poetry Jam.
If you are a New Haven teacher excited about engaging students through poetry, hip-hop and spoken word, contact me: I have resources for you, and stuff to learn from you.
If you are a badass poet or emcee who wants to ignite a poetic renaissance in the New Haven Public Schools, where have you been all my life? Contact me.
If you want to help fund any of this, contact the Institute Library, and/or me.