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How to Break

Ignited by an electric collision of theatre, breaking, and lyrical flow, How to Break tells the story of two teenage dancers battling their hospital caregivers for control over their own bodies. Small gaps in race, class, and language between Ana (a popper with leukemia), Joel (a b-boy with sickle cell), and their treatment team – a pediatric hematologist, a music therapist and a nurse with a beatboxing problem – create life-threatening rifts.

The nurse mixes patients’ breath and IV beeps into beatboxed hospital soundscapes; the doctor and therapist wrestle over the health benefits of art versus painkillers; Ana and Joel break through their diagnoses to ask what it means to be ill.

Hip-hop playwright Aaron Jafferis – longtime writer-in-residence at a children’s hospital – brought stories of teenagers living with cancer and sickle cell disease to beatboxer Yako 440, folk rocker Rebecca Hart, composer Jacinth Greywoode, and the Mixing Texts Collective (breaking pioneers Kwikstep and Rokafella, beatboxer Adam Matta, and director Christopher Edwards), who together created an original musical exploding our notions of sickness and health.


Music by Rebecca Hart, Yako 440

and Jacinth Greywoode


Book and Lyrics by Aaron Jafferis


Direction by David Mendizábal


Choreography by Kwikstep & Rokafella

Dramaturgy by Morgan Smart

Originally conceived by
Aaron Jafferis, Adam Matta, Christopher Edwards, Kwikstep and Rokafella


Running Time: 90 minutes.

Touring Company of 8: A cast of 5, plus a Production Stage Manager, and two technicians for lights/set/sound/video.

Amanda Cooper

ALC Management

917 748 7287


Collective Consciousness Theatre and Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital have developed a How to Break toolkit to facilitate collaborations between theaters, hospitals and medical schools interested in using How to Break to ignite patient- and caregiver-created art, workshops and conversations about healthcare.



New Victory LabWorks 2019 + 2020 Ÿ

Village Theatre 2016 + 2018 Ÿ

Collective Consciousness/HartBeat 2015

SPKRBOX/National Theatre of Norway 2014 Ÿ National Alliance for Music Theatre festival 2014 ŸCollective Consciousness Theatre/Hi-ARTS 2013 ŸHERE & Hip-Hop Theater Festival 2012

Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2010 & 2011 Ÿ

New York Theatre Barn 2011 Ÿ

The BIG ROOM 2010

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