Supplemental Materials for Say Word! > Dreamscape
Rickerby Hinds is a native of Honduras, Central America who immigrated to South Central Los Angeles at age 13, Hinds' Daze to Come changed the dramatic arts forever when it debuted in 1989. The first ever full-length play to use the founding elements of hip hop as the primary language of the stage, Daze introduced the genre of hip hop theater to the world. Self-marketed and self-produced, its story of a rap community forced into exile was both raw and inspiring. Daze To Come and Hinds' subsequent works have empowered an entire school of young playwrights to speak to the world in the language of hip hop.
Hinds' visionary creations span the gamut of human emotions and experiences. Blackballin', which received a reading at London's Royal Court Theatre, examines the issue of race and history in American sports and society. The semi-autobiographical Birthmark (commissioned by Showtime to be adapted into a screenplay) explores the social and cultural conflicts of a Spanish-speaking immigrant of African-descent forced to choose between the limiting racial categories offered within American society. In One Size Fits All, Hinds tackles the global issue of the exploitation of children by tracing the life of an athletic sneaker from its creation in an Indonesian sweatshop, to the ghettos of America, to the sugar cane fields of the Dominican Republic, and finally to the feet of a child soldier in Eastern Europe.
In addition to his mission to open up the theater to a diversity of voices and experiences, Hinds is driven to bring the theater to new audiences. In Straight From Tha Underground he examines the issue of freedom by chronicling the experiences of a B-Boy from Compton who is mystically transported back to 1863. Having played in venues as disparate as university theaters, churches, community centers, and national conferences, Underground highlights Hinds' ability to craft stories and dialogue that impact audiences across racial, educational, economic and generational lines. In Keep Hedz Ringin', an adaptation of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle, Hinds makes the ultimate connection between tradition and innovation-demonstrating that hip hop culture and expression, like grand opera, has the ability to elevate both its practitioners and its audiences to unprecedented heights of human understanding. Encompassing both mission and vision, Hedz epitomizes Hinds' belief in what theater can accomplish when approached from a truly inclusive starting point. Dreamscape employs DJing and spoken word to explore the life of a young African American girl as she is shot to death by police officers. Finally Buckworld One tackles the age-old question of our existence and purpose on earth. From the universal to the individual to the relationship between fathers and sons to our search for God, this production attempts to tell this expansive story through dance (Krump), spoken word, and historical video footage in a multi-media presentation.
Creator and director of the Califest Hip Hop Theater Festival, now in its 7th year, Hinds has also taught at the University of Cincinnati and the University of Redlands. Among the entities that have supported his works in the form of commissions, grants, and fellowships are; the Ford Foundation, the Showtime Television Network, the GeVa Theatre in New York, the Mark Taper Forum, the Cornerstone Theatre, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The New LATC (Los Angeles Theater Center). Institutions such as Stanford University, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the University of Houston, Howard University and the University of Aarhus, Denmark are just some of the entities that have hosted Hinds' work.
Dreamscape was a reluctant creation born out of necessity. After the death of Tyeisha Miller, a 19-year-old African American woman shot and killed by city of Riverside police officers in the Inland Empire of Southern California, I was torn between trying to say something through my writing and wondering if it would appear that I was rushing to capitalize on another tragic event in the Black community. So, in spite of being aware and connected to the tragedy from the beginning, it wasn’t until five years later that I decided that I had to do something, to say something—not just about that situation but about the precarious balancing act that is the relationship between the Black community and the law, as embodied by the police in this situation.
The journey from decision to development of Dreamscape was a difficult one to say the least because my attempt to have words come out of the mouth of a 19 year-old girl as she is being shot to death by the very police officers summoned to help her constantly took me to that same place of helplessness where she must have undoubtedly spent her last moments on this earth. It is a place African Americans have been forced to occupy when interacting with the enforcers of laws which were, for a time in our history, explicitly designed for our oppression and abuse and which now serve a more subtle purpose and space in our oppression—a place where arguments are now made to justify the millions of Black men and increasing number of Black women living under the law in prisons or under the law outside prison walls.
Open Square Theater in Holyoke, Massachusetts– 2007; Springfield College Fuller Arts Center–2007; Califest–2007; Kirby Theater at Amherst College–2007; Performance in the Borderlands - Phoenix Center for the Arts–2011.