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Hip-hop theatre production comes to University Theatre

Friday, April 22, 2016

LAWRENCE — Offering a compelling glimpse into how hip-hop became a global culture of social, cultural, political and artistic engagements, “Welcome to Arroyo’s” is a compelling story investigating the long, and often untold, history of hip-hop music. The production opens at the University of Kansas University Theatre on April 29.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. April 29-30 and May 3-5 and 2:30 p.m. May 1 at the William Inge Memorial Theatre in Murphy Hall.

“With “Welcome to Arroyo’s,” I hope people will see how dynamic hip-hop is as a cultural art form that is practiced, shared and studied by artists and scholars around the world,” said Nicole Hodges Persley, director and associate professor of theatre. “I wanted to share this play with audiences so they can explore alternative imaginings of making, performing and experiencing stories in the theater.”

That imagination and exploration is evident through the “breaking of the fourth wall” in this show. The audience will participate in making the meaning of the play, which will be different every night because of improvisation and the audience’s reception.

Hodges Persley has been a part of the hip-hop theater movement since its inception in the early 1990s as both an artist and a scholar. She wanted the KU and Lawrence community to have a reference for hip-hop theater and a better idea of the effect “this amazing music has had on American performance practices.”

“Hip-hop is embedded in every aspect of the lifestyle of the Arroyo’s’ characters because it is something that they live,” Hodges Persley said. “The characters don’t just turn on the music to become hip-hop; they live by and through the codes of the hip-hop culture.”

The company includes Juan Gonzalez, Overland Park senior, as Alejandro; DeAngelo Davis, Lynwood, Illinois, freshman, as Derrick; Cassidy Ragland, Fayetteville, North Carolina, freshman, as Lelly; Alejandra Villasante, Arequipa, Peru, junior, as Molly; Bronwen Capshaw, Los Angeles junior, as Nelson Cardenal; Nathan Kruckenberg, Valley Center senior, as Trip Goldstein; Nick Castans, Overland Park senior, ensemble; Jacinta Duong, Overland Park freshman, ensemble; Andrew Hafling, Topeka sophomore, ensemble; Cedric Houle, Overland Park junior, ensemble; Matthew Lares, Garden City freshman, ensemble; Taylor Y. Matthews, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, sophomore, ensemble; Ben Schatzel, Leavenworth, junior, ensemble; Stacia Whittecar, Abilene senior, ensemble; Diadra Smith, Jersey City, New Jersey, senior, stage manager; Cassidy Huscher, Andover senior, costume designer; Kelly Simons, Albuquerque senior, costume designer; April Richardson, Andover junior, scenic designer; and Connor Lumpkin, Overland Park junior, lighting designer.

Tickets for “Welcome to Arroyo’s” are on sale now at KU ticket offices and online at www.kutheatre.com. Tickets are also available by calling the University Theatre, (785) 864-3982, and the Lied Center, (785) 864-ARTS. Tickets are $15 for adults, $14 for senior citizens and KU faculty and staff, and $10 for children. KU student tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

The Department of Theatre is one of four departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies.

For more information on the Department of Theatre visit www.theatre.ku.edu. For more information on the University Theatre, visit www.KUTheatre.com. Follow KU Theatre on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Photos by Rana Esfandiary.