PlayMakers Repertory Company kicks off its 2018-2019 season “Shifting Ground: Theatre that Moves” with the world premiere of Temples of Lung and Air. Carolina alumnus Kane Smego, an international poet, musician, and educator, presents an electric, personal, spoken-word ode to hip-hop that explores race, language, and identity.
Temples of Lung and Air is the first offering in PlayMakers’ exciting PRC2 Kenan Stage series and is a production of StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance, founded in Chicago and now based in Chatham County. The production is directed by Joseph Megel, Artistic Director of StreetSigns and Director of the Process Series, a new works incubator at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Temples of Lung and Air is a poetic reflection on childhood in the American South. Smego melds together spoken word poetry, rap, and storytelling, with his passion for education and cultural dialogue. He shares what he’s learned about race, language, and identity through meditations on his upbringing and his travels throughout the United States and across five continents. Smego’s narrative explores with us how hip hop can be a global tool for community building.
In a twist on the tradition of PRC2 ‘s “second act” of conversation with our audience, after designated performances (Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday) there will be a “Pass the Mic” event that celebrates the rich performing arts communities of the Triangle and beyond. After his show, Smego will share the stage with a number of performance poetry groups from Durham, Chapel Hill, and Greensboro for a 30 minute conversation and showcase.
“I am so excited to be premiering this work at PlayMakers, because the Triangle is my backyard and growing up here, as a kid from the South, has shaped so much of my poetry and music,” said Smego. “Years ago, when I worked with the group of mighty North Carolina poets who co-founded Sacrificial Poets, a youth poetry group, we had the idea that spoken word poetry and music could be powerful tools for community building. This piece is my take on where that took me, around the world and back again. I can’t wait to share my story—for the first time—with the hometown crowd.”
“We are incredibly proud to open our 2018/19 season with a true tour-de-force performance by a dynamic artist who doesn’t just believe in, but lives, the transformational power of live theatre and performance,” said Vivienne Benesch, PlayMakers producing artistic director. “PlayMakers’ PRC2 series was created to allow new voices like Kane’s to take center stage and move us in surprising ways, while pushing the boundaries of what we understand theatre to be. I am especially excited about the ‘Pass the Mic’ showcases. Make sure to stick around after the main show to hear more from Kane as he engages with some of the area’s most electrifying poets—what a way to kick off a season of theatre that moves!”
Director Megel said, “When I first met Kane Smego in 2011, I knew he was one to watch. When he was fresh off his journey to Egypt and Tunisia in the immediate aftermath of what some called the ‘Arab Spring,’ I was blown away by Kane’s energy and determination to share the stories he collected there. This led to our work together in The Process Series and a StreetSigns production of the resulting piece, Poetic Portraits of a Revolution. It has been my joy to continue working with Kane on the development of Temples of Lung and Air, his most personal, vulnerable, and accomplished to date. He is a galvanizing performer with a passion to unite and an uncommon ability for digging deeply into personal narrative in search of honest answers to profound contemporary questions about race and identity.”
Performances of Temples of Lung and Air will be held at 7:30 p.m. nightly August 22 to 26, and 2 p.m. Aug. 26. There is an added special late-night performance on Friday, August 24 at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday night performances will be followed by “Pass the Mic,” a 30-minute showcase featuring poetry groups from Durham, Greensboro, and Chapel Hill. Other performances will be followed by talk backs with the audience and creative team.
Tickets are $10-35 (with UNC and other student discounts) and may be purchased at www.playmakersrep.org or by calling (919) 962-7529. All tickets are general admission, with early admission seating for PlayMakers subscribers.
Who: PlayMakers Repertory Company presents a production of StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance
What: PRC2 presentation of Temples of Lung and Air; written and performed by Kane Smego, directed by Joseph Megel
When: August 22 to 26, 2018; Opening Night August 22
Where: Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art, 120 Country Club Road, Chapel Hill, NC
Tickets: Regular: $35; Students: $10 with valid UNC photo ID. All tickets general admission.