Hip Hop Play Explores Sickness and Health

Oct 3, 2013

The Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven.
Credit Emporostheoros / Wikimedia Commons

The tenth annual Arts for Healing Festival began on Wednesday. Yale New Haven Children's Hospital created the festival to feature art, music, poetry and performances by patients and health care providers.

The festival includes a hip-hop play premiering Thursday that takes on a tough subject: the story of a young person with cancer. Writer Aaron Jafferis of New Haven said hip hop plays "incorporate beatbox, breaking, popping, rapping, and spoken word to tell the story."

Ana is the main character, played by Amber Williams. She's a teenager and popper -- a type of hip hop dancer -- who must confront news that she's been diagnosed with leukemia. 

Jafferis wrote the play incorporating his experiences as a writer-in-residence at Yale New Haven Children's Hospital.  The play is produced by Collective Consciousness Theatre in New Haven, where Dexter Singleton is the executive director. Collective Consciousness focuses on productions with a social change message.

Singleton said this play asks audience members to think about how happiness and health can be closely related. "And what it's like as a young person to not be healthy," he added. "Because it's just a given, when you're young, right? You're supposed to be healthy and vibrant and energetic, and that's not always the case."

If you plan to go: "How to Break" is at the Arts Hall of the Educational Center for the Arts, 55 Audubon Street, New Haven. It's showing Thursday, October 3 through Saturday, October 5 at 8:oo pm, and Sunday, October 6 at 2:00 pm  ($20-$50; $10 students).