Hip-Hop Theater Festival
Making Space in Harlem
The ongoing goal of Hip-Hop Theater Festival (HHTF) has always been to elevate and offer fruitful and sustainable art to the community through Hip-Hop Theater. We reach these goals by empowering artists to develop new works and build coalitions with artists and institutions around the world—supporting new relationships, and exploring new boundaries.
Our mission for the past ten years has been to present live, professionally executed theater written by, and about the Hip-Hop generation. I have been with the festival since the beginning, over 10 years ago, like myself back then we were nomadic, constantly moving, inhabiting spaces, rooted in no one place but our own ideals and mission. One of the first spaces we produced in was PS122 at First Ave. and 9th St in 2000 with Sarah Jones’ Surface Transit.
We were producing and showcasing work about the community, its origins, and also its evolution. Both Harlem and New York City we know as breeding grounds for not only the elements of Hip-Hop but also a lot of our beloved urban written and theatrical productions. 12 years later and much further north, we have embarked on a new journey, a new space which is a storefront like gallery space located in East Harlem. The dust is still settling, paint is still drying but we hope to begin inviting our friends, comrades, collaborators over by the end of the summer. The new space is an opportunity for HHTF to have a public imprint in NYC but more importantly on the Harlem community. When audiences think of Harlem they think of a renaissance, they think of a culture of call and response on artistic and political levels alike. The Hip-Hop Theater Festival, the culture we stand for and the space we are creating, seeks to foster that exact relationship and keen memory. The new space we are building and establishing seeks to harbor the discussion, the cipher, and the recreation of all that we see fit to challenge and change. It is the community’s space and we want to ignite dialogue and social change through performance arts, invigorate the space by nurturing the creation of innovative work within the Hip-Hop aesthetic. We are excited. This is a new and big step for our organization.
When audiences think of Harlem they think of a renaissance, they think of a culture of call and response on artistic and political levels alike.
We will be having a visual arts space opening featuring the work of Mare 139. But what's really exciting is the opportunity to offer the critical breaks intensive, in which artists will receive dedicated workshop time space and support, in our new space, (of course), to tackle issues, themes, stumbling blocks in which break-throughs can happen.