On stage now as part of PlayMakers Repertory Company’s PRC2 series, Temples of Lung and Air is a fascinating journey written and performed by Kane Smego.
Kane shares his experiences growing up as a white boy in the south, a white boy with a black stepfather and a love affair with rap and hip hop. What emerges through a blend of poetry, storytelling, and music is a powerful narrative that makes us ask important questions and take a closer look at ourselves, our place in the world, and how we view others.
One question thoughtfully posed through the context of the play is why hip hop isn’t often viewed as “art.” Smego’s brilliant storytelling elevates this type of music to its proper position and causes viewers to question why they haven’t seen it that way all along. Even though the answer to that question may be an ugly one, Smego does not villainize anyone with his work.
Instead, this regaling storyteller merely makes viewers think and leaves the judgment up to the individual. Using his body as an instrument, Smego not only discusses race and relations, but also plays with and questions language itself. He celebrates its ever-evolving state, yet is not afraid to experiment with it in a Gertrude Stein-esque way.
Smego’s stories and music come together, complete with projected images here and there, to form a beautiful and complex tapestry that will leave viewers pondering this production long after it’s over.
Joseph Megel’s direction is gentle yet flawless, allowing one vignette to easily segue into another. Smego has full rein on the stage, and it shows in the clear, easy nature of the performance, which is helped along by Dominic Abbenante’s smooth lighting work.
Temples of Lung and Air is an immersive experience and a totally unique show, one that tackles tough topics but, at the same time, is wonderfully entertaining and honest. It’s a definite must-see for anyone who isn’t afraid to be challenged.
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. 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.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919-962-PLAY (7529), firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.playmakersrep.org/box-office/groups-and-special-events/.
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/.
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).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.triangleartsreview.com/, http://www.susiepotter.com, and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.