Tonika Todorova is an adventure architect and a passionate lover of the shared human experience.
(l-r) Ireon Roach and Tevion Lanier. Photo by Austin Oie photo
Review: HOW WE GOT ON at Haven Theatre.
By Tonika Todorova
Haven has a firm grasp of HOW WE GOT ON. A show with a flow and chill beats invented by kids from an era that forgot how it got there because of parents that thought they knew better. But the youth always has something to say. They are perceptive like that. And sometimes, they say it better in rhyme.
The birth of hip-hop happened in the big cities. But in the outskirts of those urban environments, there were lovers of beats sprouting everywhere. The poetry bounced around economic lines and racial diversity, it danced its way into the hearts of young people, planted a stake to fight its right to remain firmly part of our culture, and won. The cast of Haven’s new play captures the raw energy of youth and delivers it unapologetically. Some great finds from Senn Arts High School in Tevion Lanier and Ireon Roach, the latter having a flow strong and passionate enough to rival any rapper out there hustling for a gig right now. And certainly one to watch out for is Johnathan Nieves who delivers a speech full of teenage angst and misunderstanding that was so powerful, it could speak for an entire generation. The smooth soundings of Angela Alise behind the DJ table (and the mask of other characters) aid in telling the story of three teens discovering each other and themselves through real life poetry.
Credits are well deserved by Jess Mcleod for staging a moving production that flows as easy as the fiercely delivered rap battles. If you ever questioned why beats arrived and are here to stay, this little play will sum it up quite nicely, without even preaching. Leave it up to Idris Goodwin to write the perfect explanation about the joy of rapping, the absolute-unadulterated-thrilling-to-the-core joy of poetic verse overlaid and intertwined with a sick beat. In the words of Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The rhyme pad was a spell book – it summoned asphalt elementals, elder gods, and weeping ancestors, all of whom had your back.” Well done.