Welcome to OpenForum. We love plays that start a good conversation and there are many ways and places to have that conversation! This is your one-stop place to join in on the discussions going on about all the shows at Forum.
We'd love for you to participate by commenting on our blog posts but we'd also love to interact with you via Social Media. Please follow us, friend us, like us, link us, and watch us (not necessarily in that order)
For information on our post-show and stand-alone OpenForum discussions, click here.
Announcement: It’s All Relevant: The Forum Theatre Podcast has arrived!
It’s here! The new podcast from Forum Theatre and From Block2Block, a community audio storytelling project! We have partnered to produce a podcast bringing you real stories from the DC community as they relate to themes featured in Forum Theatre’s productions. The podcast will discuss not only questions raised by the plays, but also the ways the plays can relate to everyday lives of the people in our community.
Episode 1 features cast members of our recent production, The T Party, talking about how they related their own experiences to the interviews of members of the local transgender community that provided the framework for the script. Episode 2 will feature stories of discovery and reflection from trans individuals in the metro area.
Upcoming episodes will feature interviews with Forum artists, original audio performances from the Forum (Re)Acts series, as well as content created specifically for the podcast.
It’s All Relevant: The Forum Theatre Podcast's first episode is available for download on iTunes for free! Use the hashtags #Forum11 #ItsAllRelevant on social media to continue the conversation and subscribe to be the first to get new episodes as they come out.
Amanda is thrilled to join the team at Forum Theatre as Artistic Development Intern and an Assistant Director. Amanda was an Associate Director/ Teaching Artist at Moonlit Wings Productions and recently completed a season-long Arts Administration apprenticeship at Asolo Repertory Theatre. She spent the summer as Assistant to the General Manager at Berkshire Theatre Group. Amanda grew up in Northern Virginia and holds a BA in Theatre and Dance from James Madison University, where she directed Awake and Sing!, Beyond the Horizon (KCACTF) and They're Playing Our Song. www.amandacherman.com.
Forum Theatre is proud to have an amazing ensemble of playwrights, actors, directors, designers, and dramaturgs. This new series of interviews with members will give you a chance to get to know the artists whose work you see onstage and why they call Forum home.
Name: Alina Collins Maldonado
Hometown: Alexandria, VA
"Getting ahead,” “climbing the ladder,” “Movin’ on up." The process of social uplift is an idea celebrated in African American culture, The process of “getting on” has been captured in popular film, music, and television. From the plantation to the suburbs, African Americans have navigated the far-from-easy, more-chutes-than-ladders social process of progress.
From the Great Migration to the later shift to the suburbs in the 1980s and early 90s, this cultural journey has informed the very essence of black culture -- from literature and drama to, yes, hip-hop.
At the turn of the century, white southerners found their economic systems dilapidated by the Civil War and identified a scapegoat for these woes in a growing and, for the first time, politically empowered African-American population. News of opportunities in the north and out west for housing and employment sparks a movement. Finding little space for success in the economically depressed south and often threatened with violence, African Americans begin a great migration moving into northern and western urban centers.
Between the turn of the 20th century up until the 1960s, close to 6 million African Americans left the south for urban metropolises spanning the North -- New York, Chicago Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Detroit. Their labor would build a modern America. And it is within these urban centers that African-American culture is given the space (both literally and figuratively) to develop and flourish.
It was during the 1970s, that from this culture sprang what we call hip-hop. African-American youth in the Bronx, the northernmost borough of New York City, first began experimenting with the percussive breaks of popular music. Some scholars have pinpointed hip-hop’s birth at a back-to-school block party thrown by Clive Campbell in 1973, where the DJ first scratched the vinyl, cementing his place in hip-hop history. Through much of the 70’s, the DJ and his turntable was a budding star of hip-hop, mixing and spinning beats for breakdancers.
MC’s and rappers weren’t on the scene yet, but that was beginning to change by the long hot summer of 1977. A chance bolt of lightning struck a power station, plunging New York City into a blackout that led to days of looting and vandalism. These riots, as odd as it may sound, proved pivotal in the development of hip-hop, giving poor African American youth access to DJ equipment that they otherwise would not have been able to afford. Grandmaster Caz, an early hip-hop pioneer, recalled in an article for Slate many years later, "After the blackout, all this new wealth … was found by people and they just—opportunity sprang from that. And you could see the differences [in their sound] before the blackout and after."
But riots, violence and the crack epidemic of the 1980s, splintered the urban communities that were borne from the great migration. A slow trickle of African Americans began leaving these communities in search of greater stability. Black flight, the out-migration of African Americans from urban centers to the suburbs, marks yet another pivotal moment in the development of African American culture. A rising African American middle class begins seeking out better school districts and safer neighborhoods. Following years of civic neglect and decay, many others followed.
And as African American’s moved into the ‘burbs, so too did hip-hop culture.
Today, hip-hop culture has rightfully earned its place in the pantheon of wider American culture. But in the late 1980s, when this first wave -- a trickle, really -- of Black flight to the suburbs began, it was still seen by many as a sort of fringe culture, something dangerous -- something to fear.
The teenagers in How We Got On are a part of this first wave of African-Americans in the burbs and the first wave of young people to bring hip-hop into their ‘burb. MTV helped spread the word, but the original B Boys and B Girls -- and the artists they supported -- helped shift not just African-American culture, not just white culture, but American Culture.
Yo MTV Raps single handedly diversified MTV, and played a major role in breaking down cultural barriers across America. It's devotees, who were of every ethnicity, rep'ed and became a major part of hip-hop culture moving it into mainstream society. It's no wonder that this Yo MTV Raps generation would be the same generation that would go on to elect America's first black president, Barack Obama.
The cultural phenomenon that we call hip-hop has ultimately played a major role in how we ALL "got on."
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