Conference Performance by Bryonn Bain
Bryonn Bain’s solo performance of Lyrics from Lockdown is a revealing look at what race, prisons, poverty, and privilege mean in America today. It’s a survival guide that reminds us of how the criminal (in)justice system can radically change a young person’s life; this story resonates from Brooklyn to the Bayou, from Compton to Cambridge, and everywhere in between. Bryonn Bain’s one-man show blends the heartbeat of hip hop with the pulse of poetry to create a dramatic story that will touch your soul.
This is a true story about Bryonn Bain‘s experience of racial profiling and wrongful incarceration at the hands of New York City police, and how this experience led to a transformative friendship with death row inmate Nanon Williams. Williams, sentenced to death at age 17 for a crime he did not commit, wrote Bain from Death Row after reading his story nearly a decade ago, and “his letters changed my life,” Bain said. “He asked me to share his story and I was so moved by it that I weaved his letters into my play so you see how this young poet – unjustly robbed of his youth – is inspiring a global movement to free himself and others unjustly thrown into prison.”
Lyrics from Lockdown is a perfect conclusion for the Radical Fictions conference theme. Bain weaves the voices of over 40 characters into this extraordinary, internationally acclaimed tour de force production featuring a live band, performing a fusion of hip hop, theater, spoken word, rhythm and blues, calypso and classical music.
“Art and culture are creative tools to educate, organize, and mobilize a movement. The criminal justice system has hit pandemic proportions and our level of engagement as a community is vital to bring solution and alternatives to this crisis,” director Gina Belafonte said. “Bryonn Bain‘s play is an exemplary offering of the engagement of arts in activism and a vision of an equitable and transformative world.”
“Shortly after producing the film Beat Street, in the years that followed, I grew frustrated with Hip Hop. I was disillusioned by how many artists have turned their backs on social responsibility. The world needs to see how Bryonn Bain’s Lyrics from Lockdown carries the tradition of joining art and activism as an instrument for justice – at a time when the prison system has our communities in crisis.”
-Harry Belafonte, Executive Producer, Lyrics From Lockdown World Premiere Run (NYC)
Free admission. ONE NIGHT ONLY. Reservations highly recommended. (RSVP Here)