February 21, 2013
Andrew Lee Creech’s “Hip Hop Saved My Life”
: Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Andrew Lee Creech.
This weekend, a new play, Hip Hop Saved My Life by Andrew Lee Creech (TH’13), premiered at the Cornish 9th Ave Studios as part of the Winter New Works Festival. Jenisa Ubben (Art ‘13) asked Creech for an interview.
JU: So, how did hip hop save your life? (or the main character’s life)
ALC:Well, I feel like there is a major misconception about hip hop. It is often lumped into the category of “rap music” and accused of oppressing women and corrupting our youth, when in fact, it is a cultural artistic movement—an amalgam of expressive platforms that is constantly reinventing itself and giving a voice to those who wish so badly to speak and be heard. For me, hip hop became the vehicle for self-expression—both musically and emotionally, and actually kept me out of trouble growing up. It not only helped me express both the deepest and most ridiculous parts of myself, but it actually aided me in discovering who I was as a human being. In Hip Hop, the main character finds both his voice and his purpose through rap and spoken word.
JU:Where did your subject material come from in writing this play?
ALC: The material in this play comes from various sources. As a writer, my work, for the most part, tends to be grounded firmly in reality, so a good amount of material comes from experiences and interactions I’ve had. In a loose sense, material also comes from my personal life, growing up in South Seattle. A lot of it has to do with my love for hip hop music and spoken word poetry, as well. Some of the best advice I’ve heard, in regards to writing is to “write what you know.” That’s what I did.
JU: What are the main messages of the play?
ALC: In the play, I attempt to explore the interworking of the family unit. The story is essentially about an African American family and their struggles. I also try to address issues of urban gentrification, poverty, and sickness. I try to shed light on a particular urban experience in America, in hopes that people will see that on the surface, a person may look different, we may range in class, and differ in economic status, but the everyday struggles are just the same.
JU: How have people responded (to readings of it, at this point)?
ALC: The response so far has been really, really promising! Even from the early readings in playwriting class, my peers (both inside and outside of class) gave some very useful feedback and support. The cast has been essential in lending input and giving the play a heartbeat. Figuring out how to sort of integrate and meld hip hop and spoken word into a theatrical forum has been an exhilarating challenge to explore. Elizabeth Heffron and Kate Jaeger have also been tremendous.
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