HYPE MAN: a break beat play by Idris Goodwin continues The Flea’s Color Brave season with a compelling look at race and friendship against the backdrop of hip hop.
November 21, 2018: Idris Goodwin’s HYPE MAN: a break beat play directed by Kristan Seemel and Flea Artistic Director Niegel Smith opened at The Flea for a run through December 18 in The Pete. The story set in 2015 in an unnamed American city follows two hip hop artists, Pinnacle, played by Matt Stango and Verb, played by Shakur Tolliver, now on the threshold of success. The friends, one white and one black, were best buddies growing up together on the mean streets of the unnamed city. Verb, a young black man just out of prison, hypes the crowd and Pinnacle, a white man writes and rhymes.
When the action begins, they are in a recording studio waiting for their beat maker, a mixed-race female Peep One, played by Tay Bass, who is late because of a traffic jam caused by the shooting of an unarmed black man. When Peep One finally arrives, the trio begin rehearsing for a gig on The Tonight Show, but the shooting will challenge the three in ways they could not have imagined.
The Flea’s Artistic Director, Niegel Smith says, “Idris has his finger on the pulse – taking the most popular music idiom in our culture and fusing it with a pressing social question. HYPE MAN is dangerous and entertaining and fits perfectly in concert with the rest of our season.”
Carol Ostrow, Producing Director of The Flea, adds, “This is a play about color brave friendships that cross racial lines and about how you reach a shared destination when you come from such different starting points.”
HYPE MAN features The Bats, the The Flea’s resident acting company, including Tay Bass, Sonja Cirillo, Justin Jorrell, Matt Stango and Shakur Tolliver. The creative team includes Anton Volovsek (Scenic Designer), Sarah Lawrence (Costume Design), Xavier Pierce (Lighting Designer), Wendell Hanes (Music Composer/Supervisor/Editor), Jabob Brasi (Assistant Director), Haley Gordon (Stage Manager) and Keenan Hurley (Sound Engineer).
Idris Goodwin is an award-winning playwright, director, orator and educator. He is the Producing Artistic Director of Stage One Family Theater in Louisville, KY for which he penned the widely produced And In This Corner: Cassius Clay. The Flea Theater, under Artistic Director Niegel Smith and Producing Director Carol Ostrow, is one of New York’s leading Off-Off-Broadway companies. Winner of several Obie Awards, a Special Drama Desk Award for outstanding achievement and an Otto Award for political theater.
HYPE MAN: a break beat play runs through December 18, Thursday–Monday at 7pm, with Sunday matinees at 3pm. Tickets start at $15 with the lowest priced tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Pete at The Flea Theater is located at 20 Thomas Street between Church and Broadway. Purchase tickets by calling 212- 352-3101 or online at www.theflea.org.
Photography: Barry Gordin