Atlanta Art Reviews by Susan K Asher
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Spoken Word, Dance and Theater Merge in ‘Can’t, Don’t, Won’t Stop – Taking Spoken Word to the Next Level’

2009 September 29

There ought to be a single word that describes the combination of spoken word, music, rhythm (think Stomp), dance, movement and acting. Labels like spoken word, poetry slam and performance art don’t begin to describe the theatrics in the show “Can’t, Don’t, Won’t Stop – Taking Spoken Word to the Next Level.”

“Can’t, Don’t, Won’t Stop” features Universes and Marc Bamuthi Joseph performing at the Rialto Center for the Arts in Atlanta this Friday and Saturday evening. Universes and Joseph, who have both performed in Russell Simmons’s “Def Poetry Jam,” will each showcase their slice-of-life performances culled from people of different cultures and backgrounds.

Universes, a four-member troupe from New York City that has won numerous theatrical awards, has toured overseas and in 25 cities around the U.S. Universes will perform “Live From the Edge,” a show that creates poetic language from childhood rhymes and community rituals. Creating the sounds of Bobby McFarin, a beat box, a gospel choir, African rhythms, hip-hop, jazz and the blues, Universes weaves through waves of emotions and life scenarios.

Seeing Universes is like seeing for the first time a theatrical performance by Blue Man Group, Pilobolus, Cirque de Soleil, or Sun Ra. It’s some of the best in performance art and like nothing you’ve seen before.

Following Universes, former Broadway actor and dancer Marc Bamuthi Joseph will perform his one-man show, “the Break/s,” creating what he refers to as “a scrapbook of life.”

“In hip-hop culture we juxtapose dance, poetry and mixed-tape (a mish-mash of music) from around the globe to create one narrative,” said Joseph. “The Break/s deals with the experience of being an American in an increasingly multicultural and multinational world.”

Joseph performs his spoken word alongside of a percussionist and a D.J., who spins a mixture of hip-hop, Caribbean, jazz and gospel music.

Joseph began his theatrical career as a child performing in numerous national commercials. He was on Broadway at age 10 as an understudy in “The Tap Dance Kid” and performed as a dancer in the Broadway show “Stand-Up Tragedy.”

“Can’t, Don’t, Won’t Stop – Taking Spoken Word to the Next Level” runs this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Rialto Center for the Arts.

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