YOU WANNA PIECE OF ME ? was first presented at the Electric Lodge in Venice, CA. It was directed by Benjamin Byron Davis; music by DJ Jedi; lighting design by Bosco Flannagan; produced by Justin Yoffe & Venice Theatre Works.
“The production of You Wanna Piece of Me? happened organically. After years of performing poetry, each time I stepped on the stage, I wanted to do more—I wanted the DJ to drop a track at a certain point, I wanted the light operator to do a blackout when I said a certain line, I wanted one poem to lead directly into a comedy bit, etc. So I started building different sets of poems and getting DJ Jedi more and more involved. DJ Jedi and I developed a lot of the material while hosting an open stage for high school performers in Los Angeles called Downbeat 720. Justin Yoffe, the producer of Downbeat 720, one day said to me, “Hey, if you ever want to do a whole show, I’ll produce it.” That’s all that I had to hear. I had just returned from touring the U.S. and the U.K. with The Bomb-itty of Errors, a hilarious adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. I was ready to perform my own work. And Jedi had just returned from touring with Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on Tour, and he was ready to have more creative freedom. So I designed a show for both of us. Once I got Benjamin Byron Davis to direct, it was full speed ahead. Ben and I had done several plays together, and I loved his solo work. We worked on the script for a few weeks, brought in Olivia Killingsworth to stage manage, and premiered You Wanna Piece of Me? on July 8, 2004 at the Electric Lodge in Venice, California. Since then, the show has been performed at the San Francisco Hip-Hop Theater Festival, the “Say Word” Hip-Hop Theater Festival at Lehigh University, the NY International Fringe Festival, and Ars Nova NYC.”
– Joe Hernandez-Kolski, Creator
Photos courtesy Drew Francis.