© David Carlson
Will Power

Last year’s critically acclaimed Flow, by a New York performance artist named Will Power, brought into the mainstream an emerging genre called hip-hop theatre. For the uninitiated, the term encompasses everything from performance pieces featuring break dancing and rap to traditional narratives examining hip-hop culture.

The fever has spread, with producers of the popular New York–based Hip-Hop Theater Festival eyeing Chicago as the next market. On May 4th, the Museum of Contemporary Art hosts Chicago’s inaugural fest (for information, go to http://www.mcachicago.org/ or 312-280-2660), headlined by Power and his contemporary Marc Bamuthi Joseph, best known for Scourge, an autobiographical mix of hip-hop, jazz, dance, and traditional theatre. With a nod toward the abundance of local talent, fest organizers also tapped four Chicago acts, which represent a remarkable range of cultural influences.

Young Chicago Authors
The West Town–based YCA showcases its blend of poetry and storytelling on May 4th, when it premières a series of spoken-word solos, developed in collaboration with Bamuthi Joseph.
Kuumba Lynx
Best described as performance art, hip-hop style, this Uptown-based ensemble combines elements of break dancing and storytelling. On May 5th, Kuumba Lynx débuts a collaboration with headliner Power.
Photo: Emily Evans
Congo Square Theatre
The six-year-old Lake View group brings to the stage new works that focus on the experience of the African diaspora. On May 5th, they perform an excerpt from Deep Azure, a Chadwick Boseman play that borrows heavily from street slang.