Black News

Could Boyz n the Hood Be Done as a Musical?

Choreography Kyle Abraham is taking an interesting creative risk by putting something on stage that some might have never intended.  The artist, who owns the company “Abraham in Motion,” has created a new dance venture called “Pavement,” which focuses on the experienced of gang culture in South Central Los Angeles.

Abraham is no amateur and has won numerous awards for his extraordinary work.   He is from Pittsburgh, and remains connected to his roots. He says that the film “Boyz n the Hood” was part of his inspiration and served as a launching point for his latest production.  Abraham also went deeper to understand the black struggle for equality that occurred before gang culture took over South Central LA, reaching toward WEB Dubois’ “Souls of Black Folk” in order to understand the world a little better..

He uses this quote as part of the program:

“Men call the shadow prejudice, and learnedly explain it as a natural defense of culture against barbarism, learning against ignorance, purity against crime, the ‘higher’ against the ‘lower’ races.”

The New Yorker speaks more about Abraham’s achievement:

In the light of Du Bois’s words from more than a century ago, the realities as depicted in the film are sobering. From the perspective of 1991, when the ravages of H.I.V., crack addiction, and gang genocide were entrenched, not much seems to have gone right.

In spite of the complexity of such a high-minded idea, Abraham has created a work of great subtlety and beauty. Much of this comes from its setting and décor. Harlem Stage’s Gatehouse venue, on West 135th Street, occupies a former pumping station for the Croton Aqueduct system, built in the eighteen-eighties. The two-hundred-seat theatre there, which opened in 2006, retains the buff and red brick of the original walls, and a patterned arch over the rear of the stage forms a pushed-back proscenium. Having already placed us in one of New York’s preëminent African-American neighborhoods, in an industrial structure, Abraham and his set designer, Dan Scully, then added to the atmosphere: a basketball backboard and hoop hang high up in one corner; the gray marley floor has a bright-orange border marking its perimeter, enlarging on the basketball-court imagery; the orange square is echoed on the backboard. Before the show, the backboard was filled with a projected black-and-white image of buildings posted with “No Loitering” signs, and exuberant hip-hop played.


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