ACT LIKE YOU KNOW


 

How you gonna win if you ain’t right within?
— Lauryn Hill / That Thing

PRESS PLAY. Lehigh University student newspaper The Brown and White video story on Act Like You Know. Featuring generation 7.0. 

As a theatre professor and practitioner, my research and scholarship is rooted in devising ways to empower students to create and perform original work within the Hip Hop aesthetic. I am interested in building an inclusive, productive pedagogical space that applies ensemble theatre principles, and critically engages artistic performance practices dedicated to celebrating and uplifting students. Inspired by these scholarly interests, I created Act Like You Know: Hip Hop Theatre, a non-traditional college theatre course, where identity and social justice issues are remixed with devised Hip Hop performance techniques, culminating in a theatrical production as its ‘final exam.’ 

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Every class is represented by a generation: 1.0 being the first, 2.0 the second, and so on. My personal challenge is to always raise the bar from one generation to the next. The semester culminates in a live show before a very large, very enthusiastic audience of friends, family and peers.  I am always amazed and gratified when former students return for this show, proudly calling out their generation numbers, obviously still in solidarity and relationship with one another and the course. 

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And everything you get, ya gotta work hard for it.
— Notorious B.I.G., / The What
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I take all comers; it does not matter if my students are Hip Hop novices or accomplished performers. Over the years, I have devised a number of accessible assignments and performance projects that allow virtually anyone to access the course material at a comfortable entry point. When it comes to teaching Hip Hop theatre, I have developed performance projects and assignments that remix traditional acting class pedagogy with Hip Hop sensibilities. For example, accepted acting class projects like scene work, character study and content-less dialogue are replaced with ol’ skool tributes, rap lip syncs and original spoken word poetry assignments.

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Anyone who knows me, knows that Act Like You Know is much more than just a performance class or Hip Hop course. It is the manifestation of all of my passions: theatre, teaching and Hip Hop.

By creating this pedagogical performance space to gather, create and perform, I have been blessed in many ways.  Act Like You Know has grounded me when I have felt isolated and occasionally adrift as one of the few Black faculty members on Lehigh's campus. Real talk. This course has been my solace and creative sanctuary as much as it has been my students.  I've been touched, inspired and changed by each of my students in some way. So many have left huge, deep impressions on my heart, it's difficult to find the words to express how grateful I am to each of them for helping me build Act Like You Know's legacy.

So I simply say, thank you.  

Thank you to all of  the generations of Act Like You Know who have given me permission to challenge myself, laugh at myself, trust myself, the courage to face my fears, the vision to create this unique learning experience and the inspiration to make each generation better than the last.