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Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk – 1996

Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk – 1996



A Note From The Director: Savion: Some time ago, George asked me if I wanted to do some work at The Public. I said yes. He said what kind? I told him, “I want to bring in ‘da noise, I want to bring in ‘da funk.” In the beginning was ‘da beat. This show grew out of my idea of Savion as a living repository of rhythm. There are these old black tap dancers, who were taught by the old black tap dancers before them, and so on. All those guys then passed that information on to Savion, and it landed in his feet, and his being, and his soul. My interest in tap springs from my passion for folk art which to me is all about creativity, about taking something that’s discarded and turning it into a wondrous object that captures the inventive magic of human beings. Only a great folk art form can tell all our stories – and tap is one of the greatest folk arts we have. I wanted to see how tap could not just tell stories, but how it could convey complicated emotions. Jazz dance does this, as do modern dance and ballet, but tap wasn’t being mined for its emotional content. It was always lopped off as an art form that’s just exuberant and fun and playful. I wanted to see how we could use tap to convey desires and – how it could become a source of delight, intensity, rage, or power. I’m interested in how, if you actively unearth popular culture and look inside it, you can find all kinds of secrets and truths and rhythms of a time period, much more than you find in written history. I’m also fascinated by bold movements, and how very large decisions made by people in power have an impact on the personal dynamics of human beings – the human complexities that come into play when history makes bold shifts. And how the rhythm shifted and changed accordingly. While we did a tremendous amount of historical research for this show, it was also very important that the artists be extraordinarily skilled, so that they could be completely available to what was happening in the room. When a moment was crafted, we could go straight from inspiration to execution, and then to editing. Every day we would have these roundtable discussions in which the guys would tell me about their world, the 1990s – because right now it’s more their world than it is mine. Then we spent a lot of time talking about the past, and trying to make history a real, living, breathing thing that happened to real human beings, as opposed to a series of uninteresting facts that they learned once upon a time in school. There are all these stories about who we were, and how we became who we have become, that are just getting lost. With this show, we didn’t want to bang people on the head with history, but to explore what history truly is: an incredibly intimate phenomenon. History doesn’t happen to cultures. It doesn’t happen to races. It happens to people. I love the phenomenon of being an American because it’s not just my history – my history is right up there next to everybody else’s. People who are very different from me, even if we have violent connections – we complete each other’s story. I love the phenomenon of that. If you can leap past whatever psychological or historical obstacles that keep you from drinking from the nourishing and replenishing water of your history, you can do anything. You can defy any level of structure. When you fully claim your history, you can soar. – George C. Wolfe (Reprinted from the Broadway commemorative journal of Bring In ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk, with the kind permission of The Joseph Papp Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, © 1996.)


Savion Glover Baakari Wilder Jimmy Tate Vincent Bingham Jeffrey Wright Ann Duquesnay Jared Crawford Raymond King Dule Hill