On Aug. 22-26, PlayMakers Repertory Company Will Present StreetSigns’ World Premiere of Kane Smego’s Temples of Lung and Air

PlayMakers Repertory Company, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s professional-theater-in-residence, will begin its exciting new 2018-19 “Shifting Ground: Theatre That Moves” season with a PRC2 second-stage presentation of Pittsboro, NC-based StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance’s world-premiere production of Temples of Lung and Air: A Hip-Hop Odyssey Through Race and Identity, written and performed by UNC alumnus Kane Smego and directed by StreetSigns’ co-founder and director of The Process Series at UNC Joseph Megel, on Aug. 22-26 in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in UNC’s Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art. (Temples of Lung and Air was workshopped on Feb. 11 and 12, 2017 as part of the Spoken Word/Spoken Justice festival, presented by The Process Series, which is UNC’s critically acclaimed incubator for developing new works.)

According to the PlayMakers Rep news release:

“Carolina alumnus Kane Smego [is] an international poet, musician, and educator[; Temples of Lung and Air is] an electric, personal, spoken-word ode to hip-hop that explores race, language, and identity. [The show] is a poetic reflection on childhood in the American South.

“Kane melds together spoken word poetry, rap, and storytelling, with his passion for education and cultural dialogue. He shares what he’s learned about race, language, and identity through meditations on his upbringing and his travels throughout the United States and across five continents. Kane’s narrative explores with us how hip hop can be a global tool for community building.

“In a twist on the tradition of PRC2‘s ‘second act’ of conversation with our audience, after designated performances (Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday), there will be a ‘Pass-the-Mic’ event that celebrates the rich performing arts communities of the Triangle and beyond. After his show, Kane will share the stage with a number of performance poetry groups from Durham, Chapel Hill, and Greensboro for a 30-minute conversation and showcase.

“‘I am so excited to be premiering this work at PlayMakers, because the Triangle is my backyard and growing up here, as a kid from the South, has shaped so much of my poetry and music,’ said Kane. ‘Years ago, when I worked with the group of mighty North Carolina poets who co-founded Sacrificial Poets, a youth poetry group, we had the idea that spoken-word poetry and music could be powerful tools for community building. This piece is my take on where that took me, around the world and back again. I can’t wait to share my story — for the first time — with the hometown crowd.’

“‘We are incredibly proud to open our 2018-19 season with a true tour-de-force performance by a dynamic artist who doesn’t just believe in, but lives, the transformational power of live theater and performance,’ said PlayMakers Rep producing artistic director Vivienne Benesch. ‘PlayMakers‘ PRC2 series was created to allow new voices like Kane’s to take center stage and move us in surprising ways, while pushing the boundaries of what we understand theater to be.

“‘I am especially excited about the Pass-the-Mic showcases[, said Benesch. ‘]Make sure to stick around after the main show to hear more from Kane as he engages with some of the area’s most electrifying poets — what a way to kick off a season of theater that moves!’

“Director [Joseph] Megel said, ‘When I first met Kane Smego in 2011, I knew he was one to watch. When he was fresh off his journey to Egypt and Tunisia in the immediate aftermath of what some called the ‘Arab Spring,’ I was blown away by Kane’s energy and determination to share the stories he collected there. This led to our work together in The Process Series and a StreetSigns production of the resulting piece, Poetic Portraits of a Revolution.

“‘It has been my joy to continue working with Kane on the development of Temples of Lung and Air, his most personal, vulnerable, and accomplished [piece] to date[,’ said Megel. ‘[He is a galvanizing performer, with a passion to unite and an uncommon ability for digging deeply into personal narrative in search of honest answers to profound contemporary questions about race and identity.’

In addition to playwright/performer Kane Smego, director Joseph Megel, and PRC producing artistic director Vivienne Benesch, the show’s creative team includes scenic designer Torry Bend, projection designer Dominic Abbenante, sound designer Eric Alexander Collins, dramaturg Elisabeth Lewis Corley, stage manager Elizabeth Ray.

Temples of Lung and Air is the first of three shows in PlayMakers Rep’s PRC2 series. The other two are: Bewilderness (Jan. 9-13), written and directed by Zachary Fine; and Your Healing Is Killing Me (April 24-28), written and directed by Virginia Grise.

Kane Smego wrote and stars in StreetSigns' <em>Temples of Lung and Air</em> at UNC (photo by HuthPhoto)
Kane Smego wrote and stars in StreetSigns’ Temples of Lung and Air at PRC (photo by HuthPhoto)

SECOND OPINION: Aug. 22nd Durham, NC Indy Week preview by Kevin J. Rowsey II: https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/in-temples-of-lung-and-air-spoken-word-star-kane-smego-drops-real-talk-on-hip-hop-and-white-privilege/Content?oid=17190645; and Aug. 15th Chapel Hill, NC WUNC/91.5 FM interview with playwright-performer Kane Smego, conducted by Frank Stasio for “The State of Things”: http://www.wunc.org/post/one-man-hip-hop-odyssey-spotlights-cypher.

StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance and PlayMakers Repertory Company present TEMPLES OF LUNG AND AIR: A HIP-HOP ODYSSEY THROUGH RACE AND IDENTITY, a world premiere written and performed by Kane Smego and directed by Joseph Megel, at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 22 and 23, 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Aug. 24, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 25, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26 in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art, 150 Country Club Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.

TICKETS: $35 ($10 students with valid UNC photo ID), except $10 general admission for the late-night show at 10:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24th, and $15 general admission for Community Night at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 26th.

BOX OFFICE: 919-962-PLAY, prcboxoffice@unc.edu, or https://tickets.playmakersrep.org/.

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919-962-PLAY (7529), prcboxoffice@unc.edu, or http://www.playmakersrep.org/box-office/groups-and-special-events/.

SHOW: https://www.piedmontperformancefactory.org/current-season, https://playmakersrep.org/show/temples-lung-air/, and https://www.facebook.com/events/1424765534320726/.

VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=dAgs46OduGg. 

2018-19 SEASON (Shifting Ground: Theatre That Moves): http://playmakersrep.org/season/2018-2019/


StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance: http://www.piedmontperformancefactory.org/#!streetsigns/c247l, https://www.facebook.com/streetsignscenter/home, and https://twitter.com/streetsignsctr.

PlayMakers Repertory Company: http://www.playmakersrep.org/, https://www.facebook.com/playmakersrep, https://twitter.com/playmakersrep, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayMakers_Repertory_Company, and http://www.youtube.com/user/PlayMakersRep.

PRC BLOG (Page to Stage): http://playmakersrep.blogspot.com/.

VENUE: http://playmakersrep.org/aboutus/kenan.

DIRECTIONS/PARKING: http://playmakersrep.org/visitorinfo.

NOTE 1: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive-listening devices will be available at all performances.

NOTE 2: There will be 30-minute post-show talkbacks and pass-the-mic sessions, with the playwright/performer, members of the show’s creative team, and subject-matter experts, following each performance. (Click here and scroll down for details.)


Kane D. Smego (Los Angeles, CA playwright and performer and UNC alumnus): http://www.kanesmego.com/ (official website), https://playmakersrep.org/artists/kane-smego/ (PlayMakers Rep bio), https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2737327 (Facebook page), and https://twitter.com/kanesmego (Twitter page).

Joseph Megel (Pittsboro, NC director and artist in Residence at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill): https://playmakersrep.org/artists/joseph-megel/ (PlayMakers Rep bio), http://www.processseries.unc.edu/about (UNC Process Series bio), https://comm.unc.edu/people/department-faculty/joseph-megel/ (UNC faculty bio), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm4904540/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.facebook.com/joseph.megel (Facebook page), and https://twitter.com/JosephMegel (Twitter page).


Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing robertm748@aol.com and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail robertm748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)

By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at]aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).