photo by Carlos Julio Dela Rosa

 

Vatic Kuumba; Poet, Rapper, MC and now the mastermind behind the perfectly outrageous and intelligently crafted play ‘A Furtive Movement: The Use of Farce’. I met Vatic out front of AS220, his confident walk and persona shined,  an artist with a vision and a mission. “I was up all night at my buddies hip hop show at Fete last night” he said as he opened the door to the AS220 work studios on the second floor. The room had props, rolled up carpets, a Bob Marley poster and the words RESIST written several times on the walls. Vatic’s experience in theater is in its early stages, with Furtive Movement being his first play and only writing it 6 months prior to is first premiere in 2017. When it comes to art though, the roots run deep. He began his artistic path with rapping. He moved up from Florida and lived in Foster, RI going back and forth visiting the Boston music scene to perform. “…it felt like no one was listening to me. I’d be rapping a verse and then the DJS throw up the bombs and say get off the stage when my verse wasn’t even done, I’m not formatted like that. I took that exact verse I was trying to spit and I ended up winning the poetry slam in Providence. That community welcomed me in and saw how rough I was around the edges. They let me peak in and see what was going on in the art world.” From a few years of being embraced in the poetry world to then collaborating on a play with Providence legend Christopher Johnson , the journey has led Vatic to steering his own ship with The Use of Farce!

“Lets dive right in” I sat down by the window and he pulled up a seat “ What does Farce mean to you”

“An absurd ridiculous amount of comedy just compiled on top of itself; layer on top of layer.”

“Was there a specific moment that you experienced that influenced you writing this play?”

“The way that I first started thinking about writing the play was in the frame of a sketch comedy show, just a bunch of different farcical absurd ideas put together.”  Vatic expressed his influences of  the Dave Chappelle Show growing up “a real engine for me when I was in High School, seeing how the Chappelle character is directing different vignettes. So with this play the first idea was the premise of a person who is doing documentaries and they want to capture the footage of somebody who is a potential victim of police brutality. They talk about putting cameras on police but this would be putting a camera on the victim. So he is obsessed with this idea to show how ridiculous the situation is so people rise up in a way that it wouldn’t happen if people weren’t in their bubbles. So its a really weird world, ‘what kind of person would do that?’ ‘What kind of person would be able to get funding to do that.’ So I had to create a whole around it and then the different vignettes speak to each other and create the world.”

My mind was spun, how do you show your idea, you create the world around it! I continued to dive deeper in the movement. “How do you feel about the urgency of radical artwork?”

“I think the job of art is to have a conversation, so before anything can exist it first comes from a thought. Art, I think, is the best way to articulate a thought for an idea.”  Vactic then explained the importance of being radical with our art as conversation, because with out that how can a solution be created or revealed to show the public?

“How can we have a just society if no one ever thought of the system of how it’s going to work? So I think that’s really the importance of radical art but at the same time you need actions after that. We can have a play; we can do this and do that, but at the end of the day there are still people that need a place to go and sleep at night. If someone is having an issue with a partner who do they call? Those things are still gonna happen and if we are just saying we’re abolitionists but we don’t have alternatives to deal with the issues of our society then we aren’t really doing our job.”

photo by James Lastowski

“Who have you collaborated with on this project?“

“I’m working with Funmilayo Alieru, a visual artist and photographer who is a graduate from RISD, they do structural building, all the digital design and all the video text messages are compiled by them, Kyle Green did set design, Kei is a great choreographer who is doing choreography, Priscilla Carrion doing costumes and I had the most direct collaboration with Ronald Kevin Lewis, the director.” Vatic described his creative process when working with people “I wouldn’t just send something through email, we have to sit down together and read through it in real time. I know that everything I write isn’t perfect but I want to see how it’s hitting and landing on people and get ideas from them.”

“What does Providence mean to you and how has your time been in the creative capital?”

Vatic had joy spread across his face “Oh man, Providence is like, a magical place for me. I don’t know if it’s a magical place for everyone but with me and my voice or whatever it is, I don’t know, maybe my aura” he laughed, “It’s like going to the Lost island and I’m like John Locke and I’m walking again” he joked and was glad I understood the reference, but I also know and have seen the magic he speaks of.

 

‘A Furtive Movement: The Use of Farce is set in an alternate future that parallels our present, where over one thousand people are killed by the police every year, told from the perspective of one of the victims of the State. ‘

Opening day is June 7th 2018 at The Pell Chafee Performance Center 

Interview by Chrissy Stewart