A theatrical concert exploring the history of cannabis using music, dance, and spoken word grounded in the Hip Hop tradition of the remix and mashup. Inspired by Martin A. Lee’s book Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana, CANNABIS! A VIPER VAUDEVILLE weaves the music of icons such as Bob Marley with the stories of grassroots activists Dennis Perron and Brownie Mary with personal narratives. From Congo Square to the speakeasies of the jazz age, from the revolutionary happenings of the ’60s to the AIDS activism of the San Francisco buyers club, our time traveling tale invokes a tradition of rebel spaces — sites of music, healing, and resistance.
The team includes Grace Galu as composer/music director/creator/performer, Baba Israel as writer/performer/co-director, Talvin Wilks as dramaturg/co-director, and Nic Benacerraf as environment designer/associate director, in collaboration with hip hop and spoken word collective, Soul Inscribed (Robert Knowles, Sean Nowell, Juan Carlos Polo, Osei Williams, and Jonathan “Duv” Zaragoza), and an ensemble of dancers that includes members of the revolutionary Urban Bush Women - Courtney Cook, Chanon Judson and Mame Diarra (Samantha) Speis, dance sensation Tatiana Barber, and mesmerizing street dancer Twice Light.
CANNABIS! A VIPER VAUDEVILLE was originally planned to open its run during HERE and BMP’s Prototype Festival on January 7, 2022. Due to COVID, the 2022 Festival and our first performance was postponed. We are thrilled to be sharing this special work with you today!
Please Note: This production contains strobe lights and haze.
Photo by Paula Court
Production photos by Maria Baranova
COMPOSER, PERFORMER: Grace Galu
LIBRETTO, CO-DIRECTOR, PERFORMER: Baba Israel
CO-DIRECTOR & DRAMATURG: Talvin Wilks
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR & ENVIRONMENT DESIGN: Nic Benacerraf
SOUND DESIGNER: Asa Wember
VIDEO DESIGNER: David Bengali
COSTUME DESIGNER: Kate Fry
LIGHTING DESIGNER: Tuce Yasek
STAGE MANAGER: Alex B. West
LIGHTING PROGRAMMER Roya Abab
ASSOCIATE LIGHTING DESIGNER Rachel Blackwell
PERFORMERS/CO-CHOREOGRAPHERS: Tatiana Barber, Courtney Cook, Chanon Judson, Mame Diarra (Samantha) Speis
MUSICIANS Soul Inscribed: Robert Knowles, Sean Nowell, Jonathon "Duv" Zaragoza, Osei Kweku, Juan Carlos Polo
Special thanks and recognition to previous Cannabis! team members: Marq Gonzalez, Head Electrician & Programmer
Carly Levin, Production Manager
Katerina Vitaly, Stage Manager
Ryan O’Hare, Technical Director
Matthew Deinhart, Video Engineer
Kathy Karadza, Wardrobe Supervisor
Rocka Jamez, Additional Choreography
Commissioned, developed and produced by HERE
Cannabis! A Viper Vaudeville is sponsored by the Cannabis Education and Research Institute (CERI), Dr. Bronner’s, and The Living Theatre. Additional support for CANNABIS! A VIPER VAUDEVILLE is provided by the MAP Fund; The W Foundation; the New England Foundation for the Arts; and made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.