Say Word!

Voices from Hip Hop Theater
An Anthology Edited and with an Introduction by Daniel Banks
Compelling plays by leading Hip Hop artists writing in the language of today


The phenomenon known as Hip Hop encompasses a global, multiethnic, grassroots culture committed to social justice and self-expression through performance. Hip Hop Theater emerged from that culture, mixing spoken-word performance with music and dance and marked by Hip Hop's strong sense of activism and resistance. Hip Hop Theater is engaged with questions of identity – culture, heritage, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, and difference—narrating the experiences of historically marginalized peoples and putting them in dialogue with other oppressed communities.

Say Word! Voices from Hip Hop Theater collects eight works by contemporary artists who confront today's compelling issues, ranging from racial profiling and police brutality to women's empowerment and from the commercial exploitation of Hip Hop to identity politics. Editor Daniel Banks has assembled work by Abiola Abrams, Zakiyyah Alexander, Chadwick Boseman, Kristoffer Diaz, Rha Goddess, Antoy Grant, Joe Hernandez-Kolski, Rickerby Hinds, and Ben Snyder, augmented with an extensive introduction and other informative commentary. The book also includes a roundtable moderated by Holly Bass and featuring Hip Hop pioneers Eisa Davis, Danny Hoch, Sarah Jones, and Will Power, a conversation that traces the roots of Hip Hop Theater and imagines its future directions.

Daniel Banks, Ph.D., is cofounder of DNAWORKS, an arts and service organization dedicated to fostering artistic expression and dialogue and focusing on issues of identity, culture, class, and heritage. He created and directed the Hip Hop Theatre Initiative and presents workshops on Hip Hop Theater performance across the globe.

Praise / Awards

  • "This is an anthology that must be read."
    Dominion of New York

  • "...demonstrates that no matter the risk, and despite resistance, exploitation, oppression, or devaluation, hip hop culture can't stop, won't stop thriving." 
    —Jessica Pabón, TDR: The Drama Review
  • "Say Word! is a necessary and urgent read, as it eloquently contextualizes the work and the voice of the Hip Hop generation in the canon of American theater. Daniel Banks does a skillful and thorough job of curating the diversity of work that exists under the banner. This is a must have on every writer's, student's, professor's, theater-maker/enthusiast/historian's shelf, right next to your Riverside Shakespeare."
    --- Kamilah Forbes, Artistic Director, Hip-Hop Theater Festival
  • "Say Word! Voices from Hip Hop Theater is the definitive study on what many wrongly believe to be a passing phase in the world of theater. Bold, brash, and unabashedly shameless in its struggle to be seen for the amazing amalgamation of music, text, and dance which has revolutionized pop culture. To study this book is to understand how theater can change, must change, will change to the sound of two turntables, a single mic, and the pop, lock, and breakdance."
    --- reg e gaines, Poet
  • "Say Word! Voices from Hip Hop Theater is a new touchstone, one that will serve as a guide, a map, a tool in service to a continuum, a moment in time, a reflection forward and back, a reminder, a witnessing and a testimony, an affirmation, an insight and instigation, a guide to be wrestled with, challenged, thoroughly interrogated and fully enjoyed. It has a sense of insistence about it."
    --- Talvin Wilks, Playwright, Director, Historian
  • "Say Word! features some of the most interesting thinkers, artists, writers, and pioneers of Hip Hop Theater. These contemporary writers illustrate through spoken-word, music, and dance performance the social tensions that exist when exploring and confronting issues of identity, race, class, gender, and sexuality."
    --- Martha Diaz, Director, Hip Hop Education Center

Supplemental Materials

Supplemental Materials

News, Reviews, Interviews

2020 Schneider Award Presentation

Interview in American Theatre

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 400pp.
  • 15 B&W photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2011
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-07132-6

Add to Cart
  • $95.00 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2011
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05132-8

Add to Cart
  • $41.95 U.S.



  • hip-hop, hip-hop performance, hip-hop theater, performance art, solo performance, spoken word theater, Abiola Abrams, Antoy Grant, Rickerby Hinds, Chadwick Boseman, Kristoffer Diaz, Ben Snyder, Zakiyyah Alexander, Joe Hernandez-Kolski, Rha Goddess, Eisa Davis, Danny Hoch, Sarah Jones, Will Power, Holly Bass