Playwright, educator, rapper 'Will Power' visits Southeastern April 22
Contact: Christina Chapple
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HAMMOND – Award-winning playwright, educator, actor and rapper Will Power will make a guest appearance at Southeastern Louisiana University April 22 as part of a speaker series sponsored by the Southeastern Writing Center.
Power, whose pioneering fusion of traditional drama, African storytelling, and hip-hop sensibilities is said to be helping transform modern theater, will make a presentation at 12:30 p.m. in the Student Union Theatre. The event is free and open to the public, and will be followed at 1:30 p.m. by a reception and a meet and greet in the theater lobby, said Writing Center Director Jayetta Slawson of the Southeastern English Department.
“Will Power is a playwright who puts his own twist on Hip Hop Theatre and, at points, uses the classics to create his contemporary works, Slawson said. She said Power is the major presenter for the center’s 2007-2008 speaker series, which has included creative writers, lecturers, and educators conducting readings, discussions, workshops, and educational forums.
“Each event focuses on writing or literature, encouraging lively interaction and dialogue,” Slawson said. “These events contribute to developing a culture of writing beneficial to students across the curriculum, as well as the regional community.”
Past speakers have included internationally renown Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, author of “Wizard of the Crow,” and storyteller Angela Davis, "the Yarnspinner."
According to the New York Times, Power “combines the complexity of serious drama with the visual and sonic arsenal of MTV.” He has created his own style of theatrical communication, fusing original music, rhymed language and dynamic choreography to produce compelling evenings of work. His varied skills, high-energy performances and lyrics are matched only by his remarkable teaching ability, providing communities across the globe with tools of self-expression.
Power’s adaptation of the Greek tragedy “Seven Against Thebes,” re-titled “The Seven,” recently completed a successful Off-Broadway run at the New York Theater Workshop and won three Lucille Lortel Awards, which recognize excellence in New York Off-Broadway theater. The play was hailed as both an audience favorite and a critical success, and called everything from “brilliant” (The Village Voice), to “exhilarating” (USA Today), to “a spectacular offering to the theater Gods” (Time Out New York).
Will Power’s nationally and internationally acclaimed solo show “FLOW” has been described by the New York Times as “theater with the refreshing aroma of originality.”
He is the recipient of the prestigious 2006 Theatre Communication Group Peter Zeisler Memorial Award, a 2005 Joyce Award, a 2005 New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, a 2004 Jury Award for Best Theatre Performance at the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival, and a 2004 Drama Desk nomination for Best Solo Performance.
Power’s skills have also been captured on television and film as a featured performer on “Last Call” with Carson Daly and Russell Simmon’s “Def Poetry Jam” on HBO. He was the lead male in the film, “Drylongso,” a hit at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and was also featured in the documentary, “All Fathers Are Sons.”
Power has been highlighted in publications as varied as his skills. From glowing reviews in the New York Times and American Theater Magazine to interviews in VIBE and The Source, Will Power deftly walks the line between serious, studied actor and urban hip hop MC.
Power has received two Audience Development Committee, Inc. (AUDELCO) award nominations for his solo shows, including the “Gathering: a hip hop theater journey to the meeting places of Black men,” as well as winning the Trailblazer Award from The National Black Theater Network for his contributions to theater.
In addition to composing the music used in all of his theater shows, Power has composed lyrics and music that have been heard on MTV, UPN’s “Moesha,” and NBC’s “Kingpin.” He has also been featured on four critically acclaimed albums “Free Roots,” “Spirit of the Roots,” “Bembon,” and “Prietos” as the lead vocalist for the Omar Sosa Sextet.