Hip-Hop Theater Ensemble: Only U.S. Group Invited to Participate in Award-winning, International Theater Project

UW–Madison News — The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s First Wave hip-hop theater ensemble has been selected to participate in Contacting the World 2010, an international theater project linking young people’s theater groups from around the world in the spirit of creating theater across boundaries of geography and culture.

First Wave is the performance troupe of the UW-Madison Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI) and the only theater group selected from the United States to participate in the award-winning international collaboration, which culminates in the Contacting the World 2010 youth theater festival in Manchester, England, July 18-26. More than 100 theater companies worldwide applied to participate in Contacting the World’s artistic exchange project, which occurs every two years and so far has included more than 40 countries and close to 1,000 young people.

Developed by one of the United Kingdom’s leading theaters for young people in partnership with the Arts Council of England, the 2010 festival will include 150 young people who are members of 12 young theater companies from Madison; Manchester, Liverpool and London, England; Amsterdam; Basel, Switzerland; Copenhagen; Kingston, Jamaica; Tehran, Iran; Pasuruan, Indonesia; Johannesburg; and Mumbai, India.

“This is an unprecedented and unique opportunity for First Wave students to be exposed to artistic colleagues from around the world while creating and performing on an international stage,” says Willie Ney, director of the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives. “It’s an honor to get this international validation of First Wave as a fresh and dynamic project that will contribute to the weeklong explosion of performance, artist-led workshops and street theater that will bring Manchester’s city culture to life in July.”

During the seven-month collaborative period leading up to the July festival, First Wave will work with its assigned partner, Junges Theater Basel in Basel, Switzerland. The collaboration includes simultaneous global creation using online social media and international visits between Madison and Switzerland. The partnerships intensify when partner groups converge in England in July for the festival that will offer theater, dance, spoken word, music and comedy.

“A dynamic range of national and international artists and companies show work and collaborate at Contact, enabling people to work with, and learn from some amazing people,” says Contacting the World artistic facilitator Adam McGuigan.  “Contact’s work can be controversial, provocative and poetic. It is rarely traditional, but always challenging, pushing the boundaries of what theater is and what it can be.”

The First Wave students who will be representing UW-Madison include Danez Smith, Gabriel de los Reyes, Ben Young, Marne Bruckner, Camea Osborn, Leslie Thomas, Cydney Edwards, Dominique Chestand, Kelsey Van Ert, Alida Cardos Whaley, Will Giles and Karl Iglesias.

For more information, visit http://omai.wisc.edu.

CONTACT: Willie Ney, 608-890-1055, wney@facstaff.wisc.edu; Valeria Davis, 608-890-3079, vadavis2@wisc.edu