Urban Verbs
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Urban Verbs

Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States | SELF

Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States | SELF
Band Spoken Word Hip Hop


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"Urban Verbs: Hip Hop Conservatory Theatre"

By Sarah Parro
For the performers in Urban Verbs, hip hop is more than just a genre; it’s a way of life. This month, the hip hop-meets-slam-poetry-meets-theater group will be at The Filling Station for one weekend of performances. Urban Verbs began taking shape in 2005, when Carlos Contreras, Hakim Bellamy and Colin “Diles” Hazelbaker were drawn together by their passions for hip hop and slam poetry. The artists wanted to create a new persona for hip hop, which is often seen as divisive. “We saw it as this thing that brings people together across generations, backgrounds, class, color, sexuality and race,” says Bellamy.
Urban Verbs combines and cultivates the “not so fine arts,” such as street art, installation art and urban theater. Audiences will find that the show is about more than the type or perfection of the art, as the performers strive to evoke a sense of unity no matter where a person’s passions lie. “This show is not about us being experts,” Bellamy says, “it’s about us being thankful and telling our stories about where hip hop manifests itself in our lives. If that thing is something different in your life, whether it be theater, or rock, or country, or skating, or punk, or cars … you can feel this.”
- Local-iQ

"Performance Preview Talking ’Bout a Revolution Theater from Albuquerque to Armenia"

Performance Preview
Talking ’Bout a Revolution
Theater from Albuquerque to Armenia
By Christie Chisholm
Mump and Smoot, Canadian masters of clowning
Courtesy of Tricklock

Mump and Smoot, Canadian masters of clowning

Winter is cold and dark and sleepy. It turns people into marshmallow-shaped hermits, wrapping and zipping themselves into enough layers to survive brief intervals of the outside world before retreating back into their slightly warmer caves. But for three weeks in January, Revolutions International Theatre Festival brings a load of light and warmth.

If you’re a regular Albuquerque theatergoer, you know all about Revolutions. Tricklock Company has been putting on the festival for 11 years, bringing outstanding performances from around the world to the city and cultivating a sense of cultural exchange that’s rarely matched here the rest of the year.

Perhaps the neatest thing about Revolutions is that it doesn’t just cater to one type of theater. Comedy and drama appear in equal measure—as do nonverbal physical theater, puppetry, cerebral experimental pieces, clowning and stand-up. This year, we’re presented with clowns from a parallel universe, an eco-activist’s struggle with her convictions and her actions, and daydreaming maids. If that doesn’t strike your fancy there’s also a multimedia hip-hop experience, a collection of stories examining fatherhood, a tale of post-Katrina survival and a look at Philadelphia’s killing epidemic of 2008.

Tricklock Co-Artistic Director Kevin Elder says the company’s mission when recruiting shows is simple: Find great theater. Tricklock likes to navigate its own original shows through a combination of styles, so finding diversity in the performances it brings here comes naturally. Tricklock—and Tricklock’s other co-artistic director and the curator for Revolutions, Summer Olsson (disclosure: Olsson contributes as an Alibi freelance music writer)—also favors shows that offer social or political commentary. This year, Elder says this is especially true. “I think it’s been a part of what Summer’s really interested in,” he says, “finding shows that are not just entertaining but that have an important impact.”

That impact’s been felt throughout the city and state. Even in the midst of the recession, Elder says individual donations to the company have actually increased, which has helped make up for waning government support. It means we don’t have to worry about losing one of the city’s best festivals any time soon.

Perhaps the neatest thing about Revolutions is that it doesn’t just cater to one type of theater. Comedy and drama appear in equal measure

The Shows

One of the shows Elder is most excited about this year is The Maids, performed by Theater 8 from Yerevan, Armenia (it’s the first time an Armenian company has participated in Revolutions). The two titular maids conceive fantastical daydreams while their mistress is out, which gradually turn into nightmares as they toy with roles of domination and submission. This play, based on a script of the same name by Jean Genet, doesn’t use spoken language, relying instead on wildly imaginative and translatable physicality.

Waste Her was one of my favorite performances of 2010. Tricklock’s Juli Hendren wrote and stars in the one-woman show, directed by Summer Olsson. It follows the choices made by a young activist entranced by eco-terrorism. The show is heartbreaking and human, taking an act that is seemingly unfathomable and making the audience understand exactly why it is not. Hendren is an astounding performer, switching between a multitude of characters with ease, grace and a formidable presence. She weaves an arresting, dark and beautiful tale.

Urban Verbs mixes the words of Hakim Bellamy and Carlos Contreras with the sounds of DJ Diles, the sights of Mark Archuleta and the direction of Chicago’s Idris Goodwin. Billed as “a bridge for commercial rap lovers and poetry purists alike,” it digs at the roots of hip-hop and community.

“Magical realist Latino voodoo aesthetic”—that’s what you’ll find when you sit down with The Cone of Uncertainty, a story about Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans performance artist Jose Torres-Tama examines the cultural context of his city before and after the storm, calling attention to federal negligence, displacement and prejudice through personal stories and video.

Lullabies for My Father is the newest original work to come out of Tricklock. Conceived of and directed by Elder and created with company members Olsson, Dodie Montgomery, Alex Knight and Hannah Kauffmann, it employs “verbatim theater,” taking a collection of interviews with people in the community and shaping them into a work that explores both the light and dark sides of fatherhood. A work in progress, Elder hopes to use feedback from this round of performances to get the show ready to tour by the summer.

Hometown boys The Pajama Men (disclosure: I am dating a member of the group) give the first preview performance of their newest work, In the Middle of No One. Also listed as a work in progress, the show follows a heartsick space traveler and a group of “friends of scientists” as they sail around the world. The description of the show is also completely subject to change. Once the show is finished this spring, The Pajama Men will tour it in Australia, the U.K., South Africa, Canada and lord knows where else.

Philadelphia found itself in the middle of a homicide spree in the summer of 2008. In Killadelphia, Sean Christopher Lewis presents a grisly view of the time through interviews with Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford inmates incarcerated for murder, revealing truths about urban centers across the country.

From Toronto, Canada, comes Mump and Smoot, masters of clowning. In Something, they live on a parallel-universe planet called Ummo (where they worship a god named Ummo and speak Ummonian), frolicking in the dark depths of their world. Don’t miss this fantastically absurd show. (Beware: This one isn’t for kids.)516 - Weekly Alibi

"Urban Verbs An autobiographical hip-hop intersection of Hip-Hop and humanity in five acts"

Urban Verbs
An autobiographical hip-hop intersection of Hip-Hop and humanity in five acts
Summer Olsson [ Thu Jun 16 2011 3:00 PM ]

DJ Diles
DJ Diles

Hakim Bellamy, Carlos Contreras, DJ Diles and Idris Goodwin: heavy hitters from the arts and music scene with many fingers in many pies at all times. Their newest confection, Urban Verbs, is a video, audio and physical performance piece that is dialogued entirely in poetic verse. Bellamy and Contreras play characters and interact, weaving over and under live electronic DJing from Diles—and under the sharp direction of Goodwin. The actor/creators call Urban Verbs an alternative to the brainless, heartless hip-hop of violence and exclusion. The Friday show also has live art creation, an auction and a DJ. Saturday’s show has a keg and musical guests BrokenBreadWinner.

These are bitty bios of the performers:

Hakim Bellamy – two time national champion slam poet, father, rapper, political journalist, community advocate and organizer.

Carlos Contreras (left) and Hakim Bellamy in poetic action
Carlos Contreras (left) and Hakim Bellamy in poetic action

Diles – Professionally certified, passionately motivated sound engineer, producer, beat junkie, rapper, and all around chemist of sound.

Carlos Contreras – Two time national champion slam poet, educator, artist, community organizer and activist, host of the NHCC’s Voces program.

Urban Verbs
Friday, June 18, 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 18, 8 p.m.
The Filling Station
1024 Fourth Street SW
Tickets: $15, $12 in advance
www.brownpapertickets.com/event/176788 - Weekly Alibi

"Hip Hop Provides Basis for Dialogue"

Hip-Hop Provides Basis for Dialogue

By Adrian Gomez
Journal Staff Writer
Idris Goodwin is always looking to inspire conversation.
Whether it's through his spoken word or directing, he's always up for a challenge.
"There has always got to be a two-way road for conversation," he said. "That's what I try to build on."
Goodwin is directing "Urban Verbs," which is written and performed by Carlos Contreras and Hakim Bellamy. "Urban Verbs" is a multimedia performance reinterpreting hip-hop's five elements. The elements are being a b-boy, being an MC, grafitti, being a DJ and knowledge of culture. The performance will have sounds provided by DJ Diles, and video by Mark Archuleta.
Goodwin said coming into the project was good for him because he could help Bellamy and Contreras grow out of their poetry-slam genre.
"I want to help each one break through," he said. "You can tell that both are comfortable with slam and I want to take their strengths and use them for this show."
For Goodwin, hip-hop is a heavy influence. He began to enter the poetry-slam circuit when he moved to Chicago. He said like a lot of kids in the late '80s he fell in love with hip-hop culture.
"When I moved to Chicago and I got immersed into this urban epicenter and I found opportunities to let myself out," he said. "That was a changing point in my life."
Goodwin says that people connect to hip-hop because it's not exclusive.
"There's always some sort of battle," he said. "Somehow it translates into daily life. The struggles that we all go through. Some may not be as severe, but there's still a connection."
Goodwin said with "Urban Verbs," he's just trying to balance three contexts and not lose the individuality of each man.
"The whole show is one poetic line, and we're trying to shape and mold it into an explosive line," he said. "It's an homage that deserves to be looked at closely."
While Goodwin has been working on "Urban Verbs" for some time, he's also gearing up for the release of his first book, "These Are the Breaks."
"I've been working with spoken word for so long, it was a challenging transition to get it all on paper," he said. "With the book, more doors will open for me and my art, and I'm excited to see where it goes."
Goodwin also will perform an encore of his "New Mexico Remix," which he performed at the Street Art Festival in September.
"To have Chaz Bojórquez get inspired by my words and do a mural is awesome," he said.
"Urban Verbs"
WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12
WHERE: 516 ARTS, 516 W. Central
HOW MUCH: $15-$18. Tickets available by calling 304-8189

Read more: ABQJOURNAL VENUE: Hip-Hop Provides Basis for Dialogue http://www.abqjournal.com/venue/0922441venue01-09-11.htm#ixzz1ciJzVdO9
Subscribe Now Albuquerque Journal
- Albuquerque Journal


Urban Verbs: Hip Hop Conservatory & Theater
(Full Theatrical Performances & Guest Lecture Performances)
-November 2009 Harwood Arts Center Albuquerque, NM
-February 2010 St. Lawrence University Canton, NY
-January 2011 Revolutions International Theater Festival Albuquerque, NM
-July 2011 The Filling Station Albuquerque, NM

Stay Tuned: Urban Verbs Mixtape Volume 1

Be (2011) Hakim Be Produced by Diles (Local Radio Play)

Mood Static (2010) Various Artists Produced by Diles

Gut Feeling (2010) Various Artists Produced by Diles



Urban Verbs: The Conceptual Abstract

It ALL started with an answer. An answer we still haven’t been able to define, but are determined to defend. We asked each other…”How does a Black kid from New Jersey, a Brown kid from the Barrio and a White kid from the Foothills who’ve known each other all of 5 years, come together to create an artistic reality that they all feel like they’ve known their entire lives?” Almost as though they grew up on the same block.

The answer is not Hip Hop. Hip Hop is just the common denominator. The song we remember from THAT summer, THAT prom, THAT loss. But “THAT” story…the fact that we all have a different “THAT” story and maybe we all have a different set of songs for our soundtracks…but we ALL have a soundtrack. We all have a picture, portrait or painting. We all have a dance, good or bad at it. We all have a poem, a song, words we said…and words we didn’t. Hip Hop only illuminates these relationships and connections for people from different sides of the wax. But once we connect…we are connected.

So this show is about asking questions of others and of ourselves. Critical reflection and ambitious projections. Like real Hip Hop, the value is in the process not just the product. The lessons that come with facing, challenging, inventing, accepting and re-inventing oneself. Like real Hip-Hop, Urban Verbs is always in growth, maturing the lexicon and definition of what Hip-Hop is, rather then what it isn’t. The show houses a piece of each city that houses the show. The show is a discussion, where we may have the first word, but the audience certainly has the last.

Because when we all peel back our layers flesh by flesh…we are each other. Just with different stories. Hip Hop just exposes our connective tissue. This show acts as a microscopic lens that magnifies this connection and makes it un-ignorable.

To create a progressive narrative around Hip Hop culture and facilitate the practice of EVERYONE telling their story through Hip Hop as a form of love, a form of intelligence and a way of better living.

To increase the respect and acceptance of Hip Hop as a legitimate and visionary art form and worthy of academic inquiry

To be an example of how one can feed their family and live their dream through Hip -Hop that builds rather than Hip-Hop that destroys

To fashion Hip Hop into the tools that bring people together, stops wars, makes babies and raises them!

We all believe in the power that art has to empower, emancipate and change lives as it did ours. We make the time to create art together because we believe what we are creating has such a sense of duty and responsibility to inspire change in people, that NOT doing it is akin to giving up on beauty, positivity and hope for a different kind of Hip-Hop, a different kind of world for ourselves and our children.

Urban Verbs is an alternative interpretation to the brainless, heartless, materialist, violent, sexist, homophobic, self-involved popular perception of Hip-Hop. And it is urgent that THIS representation of Hip Hop culture, which is actually the lion’s share of those who identify with our generation, be put out there to affirm those who are Hip Hop, those that wear it as who they are and to enlighten those who aren’t and attack it.

We are extremely sympathetic to the wandering attention span of younger audiences (since we all spend large parts of our professional and personal time working with youth in our community). Even as poets, we understand that every person is not built for a 50-minute English Lit course. As educators we know that learners and all other kinds of consumers of information come in varying shapes and sizes. So our technique is multimedia (visual, video, audio & verbal) and “something for everyone”.

We have a belief in the DIY (Do It Yourself) Model of bringing art to the world. None of us have had the luxury of an agent or representation. None of us live in the artistic vortex of New York or Los Angeles, so the hopes of being “discovered” are slim to none. We’ve always promoted our own shows, our own art and ourselves. We are savvy enough to understand that via this model we can own more of our profits and career trajectory while keeping our artistic integrity. This is very important to what Urban Verbs represents, because reclaiming the narrative is hard to do when someone else owns you, your studio time or the rights to your work. These same philosophy and industry lessons are what we teach to the aspiring talent we often work with in our communities. Some of our other guiding philosophies include giving back to our communities which have supported and nurtured us as artists. We philosophically promote the serious consideration of art as a career and a way to better the world and we work help others develop those tools while we attempt to lead by example.

Two members of our collective ar