Episode 22 – Faith, Community, and Spoken Word Art with David KoloKolo

Spoken Word Artist David KoloKolo on SallyPAL recorded in an Arlington, Virginia Outdoor Area in
David KoloKolo and Sally

Episode 22 of
Sally’s
Performing Arts Lab
Podcast
Features
Spoken Word Artist
David KoloKolo

 

 

I’m your host, Sally Adams, and every Monday evening, I talk to people about making original work for the stage. Subscribe to SallyPAL on iTunes, Google Play, Podbean and many other podcast platforms. Leave comments, give me a review, or send an email to Sally@sallypal.com. Your ideas keep great conversations coming every Monday evening. Thanks so much to those of you who continue to share. Thanks to Connie, Steve, Jeremy, Pat, Emile, George, Vicki, and all of you who are taking the time to spread the word.

Don’t forget about the FREEBIES on sallypal.com/join. You can still get your 20-page free original theatre resource. It’s a glossary of live performance support you’ll need for your original work. It’s useful, entertaining, and there are places to scribble your show’s notes on the pages.

Today’s episode features an amazing young artist, David KoloKolo. David is a senior in the accounting program at George Washington University in Washington DC. He’s like many serious-minded young men about to embark on a career in the corporate world. But just under the surface is a passionate, thoughtful, poetic soul. David received recognition as a spoken word artist through the Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB) program in Tulsa, Oklahoma. David is a musician who draws energy and inspiration from his Christian faith. He grew up listening to Bill Gaither Gospel and Hill Song Gospel as well as rock and hip-hop. Although his poetry is not always filled with religious images, his walk as a believer is all-encompassing. David’s non-judgmental approach to his art and his life is nothing short of inspiring. I want to share a poem he wrote and performed that really moved me. Here’s a link to David KoloKolo’s spoken word piece, Anthology of Apologies.

I’m including Concise Advice from the Interview. This is a short version of tips from this week’s SallyPAL podcast guest. Here are David KoloKolo’s 5 great bits of advice:

5 As you grow as an artist, pay attention to your technique.

4 Art is communal even if you create in solitude.

3 Sharing digitally is a legitimate way to create a communal experience.

2 Share your whole self with your community.

And the number 1 piece of advice from spoken word artist David KoloKolo?

Worship can bind together all the areas of your life including your art. 

Thank you for sharing, subscribing, reviewing, joining, and really and truly, thank you for listening. I want you to pursue your dream to have your original work on the stage in front of a live audience. It’s scary, but I’ll be here with advice, encouragement, and a growing community of people like us. If you like SallyPAL, a new podcast goes out every Monday evening!

Remember: All the performances you’ve seen on stage once lived only in someone’s imagination…
Now it’s your turn!

Earth is heaven. Or hell. Your choice. - Wayne Dyer

Episode 1 – Getting Started

Listen to Episode 1 of SallyPAL the Podcast

Blog Post – What’s in Your Way?
I had an enlightening conversation today with my friend Sheila about how I have been avoiding putting my podcast out into the world. I already had the first episode fully produced. But I have been second guessing myself daily until I finally went back and listened with people whose opinions I trust. That’s all it took. They didn’t even have to say anything. Just the act of listening to the podcast with my husband and daughter gave me fresh ears to hear what was missing. That is not to say Episode 1 is the most fabulous podcast ever made. I assure you, it is not. It is, however, the start of something I anticipate will improve as I learn and grow with your suggestions. It’s like that with original work, isn’t it? When you first write an idea into a document, or try dance steps alone in your kitchen, or sing some song phrase into your phone, you are not quite ready to share it. Or ySally Seeks Input from the Worldou struggle to make your partner or your mom (or your kid) understand what you’re creating. A few key strokes, dance steps, or musical notes later you might be ready to share. When you share, if you want your work to grow, you must start by finding someone who a) validates you as an artist, b) understands the value of constructive criticism, and c) is given the go-ahead (by you) to give an honest reaction. Most of the time you don’t even need to hear what they think, it will become clear what needs to be done as soon as you reveal this early draft. But your audience of one or two may still want to talk about what they noticed. When you allow people to express opinions about a work of art you are never suggesting that every idea expressed will be incorporated into your work. That would be silly. Allowing another person to share an opinion about something precious to you is the beginning of collaboration. To be able to hear what other people think about the work, your ego must step out of the way. Take what you can use, disregard the rest and thank all your critics for their opinions. Thank them with genuine gratitude. I promise, this gets easier to do after some practice. Don’t be confused about comments made about your art. A person commenting on your work is not critiquing your character. Listen for the contribution to the art. Sometimes, the most ridiculous ideas can lead to sublime finished work.
Listen to Episode 1 of SallyPAL the Podcast

Why Kids Need a Way to Express

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJSO2JubmTo&w=420&h=315]

Slam Poet Emily Hedgecock (my daughter) presents to a Teach for America audience.

Kids are wonderful creatures.  We often see them through the lens of our adult experience.  The novelty of life can dissipate after years of repetition.  The first trip to McDonalds is magical, the second is super fun, the third is great, but after dozens of Happy Meals and crawling through yellow plastic playground toys and running on Astroturf, the place starts to become a burger joint full of loud children and tired parents.  But when kids are in the beginning stages of discovering everything, even the most mundane experience can have appeal.  It’s one of the reasons why teaching kids how to express their feelings when faced with a new experience is so important.  It’s what creative teachers do.  This video of slam poet (and my kid) Emily Hedgecock, is one of the reasons why I support the arts in schools (besides the fact it pays my salary).  If art is a unique expression of a universal experience, then teaching kids how to share these experiences in their own way can connect kids in their shared understanding defining both themselves and their world.

Creativity Begins at Home

Yeah, that's right, we wear costumes to the RenFair

At the recent Creativity Summit in Tulsa this month my kids and I joined a breakout session where we could share our ideas on the question: “How can our schools continue to produce creative young people in a climate of reduced support for education, especially in the arts?”  I made a short video and both of my kids answered with a piece of poetry.  My daughter’s piece, titled A Sense of Urgency has to do with the reason kids feel misunderstood in the current system.  My son’s piece is a reworked poem titled Wasteland. He approaches the idea from a more absurdist perspective because, as he says, the current thinking about education is absurd.  Both kids are award-winning writers and I love being able to get a glimpse into their heads.  Enjoy!

A Sense of Urgency

Perhaps I just don’t comprehend the issues.

I am a member of a generation

That has become lost in the whirrs of

Machinery, internet porn, and WoW

We are members of Generation Tech

And we do not write on legal pads anymore

We write exclusively with the help of

The Grand Masters:

Microsoft, Apple, Dell and Windows

Words that all mean one thing:

Freedom.

Our own brand of freedom.

On the internet, we are who we want to be,

We can be any gender, any age, any sexual orientation

And in that sense, we are the

Most creative generation

But perhaps I don’t understand the issues

The older generation is trying to impart to us

“A SENSE OF URGENCY”

Because apparently our cities are dying

And apparently it’s our fault

Damn kids with AC and TV and LOL

Kids that won’t go outside when it’s hot

Who prefer the internet to sports

We plug headphones into our ears

Drink Mountain Dew

And stare at the shimmering, lovely screen

Our fingers whispering over the keys

Like mice

And you could practically smell the cooling fan burning,

The processors are so fast

The older generations are trying to tell us

“Stop! Now! Before it’s too late!”

But don’t they know it’s already too late?

That there’s nothing to be done to save us?

The older generations will look at us

And shake their heads, slowly and sadly,

And stare out the windows at our coffee shops

And our sidewalks, crawling with the misshapen mass

Of Generation Tech,

And they will feel sorry for us

That we cannot kick a can across the street and feel the joy in that

BUT

We will feel sorry for them as well.

Because they are trapped dreaming of old worlds

Worlds that are long dead

And we are here, on the information superhighway,

Creating the new

Wasteland

One blustery day,

We decided to build a wasteland.

So we put on our toolbelts and fastened our knapsacks

And set forth to make a difference.

First we had to rid ourselves of the buildings

We didn’t bother to check if anyone was inside

This was too important to worry about casualties

“Why must we lay waste to these places?” one man asked.

“We lay waste to make waste,” I responded

“Or have you no ambition?”

We waltzed through the destruction

To see what had yet to be born anew

Taking a pair of curtains, we tore apart the fabric of time and space

We found an extinguisher and doused the fires of love

We turned a dinner plate and cooked a feast of dead ideas

All to make way four our glorious wasteland

That was to be our paradise

“Is there no food or water?” a woman asked

“We shall feed on the fruits of our labor,” I responded

“And our thirst shall be quenched by the sweat of our work

Or have you no motivation?”

We took food out of cans

We took milk out of cartons

We took files out of file cabinets

It was becoming difficult to work

We could not see through all of the light

The only solution, then, was to destroy the sun

“A rocket?” one man asked

“Too obvious”

“A cannon?”

“Too cliché”

“Perhaps a monster”

“Where do you propose we find a monster?

The lawyers are all dead and the math teachers are too distracted”

Little Billy climbed on top of a recently built pile of rubble

He placed his index finger and thumb an inch apart

So that the sun fit perfectly

He plucked it from the sky and buried it in the dirt

Surrounded in darkness, we could see as clearly as ever

Again we set to work, building as much waste as we could

We tore and shredded and smashed and crushed

When all was done, I listened

I could hear no voices

No children laughing, no men arguing, no women gossiping

Who knows what happened to them?

I care not

As long as I have my wasteland, I am happy

With my wasteland built, I lay down for my eternal slumber

I do not know how long I was asleep

Millennia, years, months, days, perhaps seconds

Perhaps I had gone back in time

What woke me up was more of that distracting light

Muttering angrily, I looked up

In the spot where Little Billy had buried the sun, a star tree had grown

Each star on each branch was emitting the most obnoxious light I had ever seen

I got up to cut it down, but then I saw something

I saw what was left of my wasteland

Instead of rubble, there were buildings

Instead of destruction, there was construction

Instead of remains there were beginnings

I wept silently to myself

They had destroyed it

They had destroyed my beautiful wasteland with society

The fools had no idea

I collected myself and began to travel

There was a thriving place nearby

The perfect place to build a ghost town

Bard Rap: A Guilty Pleasure

Bard Rap
Rock Star

I am guilty of trying to make Shakespeare seem cool.  I use the word ‘trying’ here, though I really do avoid it when giving instructions: “Try to memorize” or, “Try to speak clearly” doesn’t sound as though I am giving my students any direction at all.  “Do or do not, there is no try.”  But I digress.

I say I try to make Shakespeare seem cool, but the only way to really pull that off is to simply commit to the Bard without apology.  Just love him as he is.  If your students think that’s lame, no worries.  If you don’t care what they think, ‘lame’ can become ‘interesting’, and ‘interesting’ to ‘cool’ is not such a stretch.

In a bit of downtime I came up with a little ditty to put Shakespeare’s plays in order for my students.  Sadly, there is no definitive timeline for his works.  I arranged the rhyme based on performance history rather than the order in which the plays were written as there is slightly less guess-work involved.  Here it is, Bard Rap.  Please feel free to steal it if you think it would be useful:

Gonna tell you bout a boy who knew how to get a rave on,
Born in Stratford… Upon Avon.

He married girl named… Anne Hathaway:
Eight years older in a family way.

She was 26, he was just 18,
But they had to get married if you know what I mean.

They had a baby named Susannah…. that girl was a cutie.
Then twins came along named Hamnet and Judy.

Will was a bard and he knew he had to write
So he left the kids with Anne and the man took flight.

He moved to London to get his start
Where a poet could make a living at his art.

He wrote some words that got some attention,
But a guy named Greene expressed condescension.

Greene wrote a letter that gives us a clue
About the timing of the writing career of you-know-who

Shakes performed where the royalty stays.
He spent most of his time writing 39 plays.

Funny plays and dramas, romance and mystery.
They were listed as comedy, tragedy and history.

Henry VI, parts one and two were history.
Then Two Verona Dudes and Henry VI, Part 3.

Bill spent some time writing now famous poetry.
The plague meant theaters were all closed locally.

He might have used the time to write some more pages
But soon the doors were open to the London stages.

Richard the Third showed a king’s worst sins.
Then The Comedy of Errors was all about twins.

Loves Labors Lost and Titus Andronicus
Made the Bard look just like he was one of us.

Taming of the Shrew came next, it was comedy.
Then Romeo and Juliet: A masterpiece of tragedy.

The next work had a magical theme;
He called this play A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Richard Number Two was followed by King John.
Then The Merchant of Venice turned out to be a con.

Henry IV was another one of Henry’s kinzer.
Then came the silly play, Merry Wives of Windsor.

Another Henry IV (but this one is part two)
Is followed by a play nicknamed Much Ado.

Some land was purchased to build a new space
Nicknamed the Globe.  It was a popular place.

Henry V was followed by Julius Caesar.
Guess what’s next, it’s a theater teaser:

While Shakespeare was writing his poetry and plays
His only son Hamnet saw the last of his days.

Most people think that The bard got sad
Cause he wrote a play that started with a guy’s dead dad.

The play was Hamlet; best play ever penned.
But the worst part is they all die in the end.

In Twelfth Night, Viola dresses like a boy.
And Troilus and Cressida is all about Troy.

All’s Well That Ends Well is a problem play
But it still ends well or that’s what they say.

Then in As You Like It Jacque calls the world “a stage”.
He’s a little bitty crazy and a little bit sage.

Othello was a general with problems of his own
And Measure for Measure was followed by Timon.

King Lear might have been about the bard and his daughters.
The play focused on a family’s troubled waters.

Macbeth was greedy, Pericles was scarred,
But the Prince of Tyre was only partly by the Bard.

Coriolanus seeks political glory.
Antony and Cleopatra is a sad love story.

Cymbeline and Winter’s Tale leave loose ends
But both are stories told about friends.

Cardenio‘s a play we never will see.
It was lost so it won’t be on a marquee.

In The Tempest, Miranda’s dad, Prospero is torn.
And in Henry the 8th Queen Elizabeth is born.

Thirty-nine plays we attribute to the Bard.
But the reason we hold him in high regard

Is his wit, his poetry, his style were unique.
But most of all he transformed the English we speak.

His rival Ben Johnson later thought better
Of the Bard and he wrote one great big letter

That his friends included along with their praise
In the first folio containing 36 plays.

Though Willy went bald and he didn’t have a car,
Back in the Renaissance he was a rock star.