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“moving at the speed of t h o u g h t”

Jun 9, 2007


“Everything begins with an idea. And the best ideas are people. Really, people are good ideas. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. not only had great ideas about civil rights, but he himself was a good idea. If he never existed in the first place, his ideas about equality written in his speech “I Have a Dream” wouldn’t have either. Bill Gates is famous for being the world’s richest man, but what we ignore is how much he deserves it, after all, he had an idea about a computer operating system, and this idea has made all our lives easier.  Sometimes people are nervous about sharing their ideas. Howard Aiken, American computer engineer and mathematician, once quipped, “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” That’s a funny way to look at it, but it’s true. Ideas are common, good ideas are everywhere, what’s rare are people who will work hard to bring them out. So, good ideas and good people need each other. On this day, we are celebrating both.  There is such a thing as a “eureka” moment. When you have been thinking and thinking, trying to solve a problem or wanting to come up with something, but you’re stuck, and then all of a sudden when you are walking down the street or brushing your teeth it hits you! Eureka! The idea finally arrives. Unlike trains, ideas don’t operate on schedules. You never know when they’re going to come. But when they do, it’s our responsibility to be just as great as those ideas, to be their vessel of transportation. From painting a picture, choreographing a dance combination, writing a poem or a play, to creating a friendship or making a memory…Today we honor brain-storming and generating electrifying ideas, the kind that move at the speed of t h o u g h t. Think about it.” –Angela Kariotis, Curator and Director, 9th Annual United Way Student Education Showcase

Plays for Living, Inc. were the producers of the United Way Student Showcase. As Artistic Associate at PFL, I was the Director and Curator of this city-wide annual event now in its 9th year. In only 2 months PFL managed to create a momentous experience. The Showcase features the culmination of student works. Community Based Organizations, Arts Agencys, and public schools teamed up for the spring semester. Some groups worked on college preparedness, others learned to write poetry, or learned about conflict resolution, modern dance, or media. The array is wide. All in all, we had 42 schools and endless content. The show, which was on June 3rd at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College, tried to incorporate as many as possible. I created 4 venues: the stage for performing arts works such as dance and theater, the lobby which was transformed into a gallery for visual arts, the program which functioned as a chapbook and playbill for the written word, and the screen. On behalf of PFL, I invited Robin Wilson to create a documentary chronicling students who were working on non-product oriented things, such as Leadership skills or Group discussion. These 4 venues allowed as many students as possible to be part of this day.

Throughout the student acts, I then curated professional artists at the top of their field to perform their specialties, accompany students performances, and create new work for this day. These artists include Baba Israel, Yako, Jerry Gant, Kheedim Oh, Julianne Carney, Mike Supreme, and Krazy Pop. I also joined in as the resident poet!

There was no MC. It was a seamless show. There was no stop-start. It was a continuum. The pulse of this ethos was duw in large part to the pre-recording of the intros for student and professional performances on a track. DJ O scratched in to the next thing. He really maintained the flow as a DJ does for any show.

I titled the show “moving at the speed of t h o u g h t” as a means to honor ideas and the idea-making process. As an exemplar experience, Baba Israel freestyled about the day taking topic suggestions from the audience followed by Yako’s beat. Jerry Gant painted a live mural, 6′ x 6′, from the top of the show and finished with his signature 2 hours later at teh end of the show.  Julianne Carney showcased her viloin skills several times throughout, accompanying students featured with Yako on bass and Baba on beatbox as a trio. I was honored to do a poem with her. This poem I wrote and read was about ideas. I never “read” anything on stage before. I used a marble Mead notebook to give a shout-out to all things school-like.

The point is these professional artists were these students once. This was us. We were all in junior high beginning to figure out this cool thing we can do with our voice, figuring out we like poetry, or learning to draw. The kids were exceptional. They really turned it out. Parents, care givers, and family members showed enthusiastic suppport, and that was the best part to see.

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