Oral Funk Poetry Productions is launching its fourth season of “The Signature: A Poetic Medley Show” in a new venue, The Loft Theatre, 126 N. Main St.
“We’re so excited to be producing our fourth season at The Loft Theatre,” said Sierra Leone of Oral Funk Poetry Productions. “Our new home has more seating for our shows, which often sell out, and allows us to kicks up the performance a notch thanks to access to more professional production equipment and capabilities in the theater. It also allows us to learn from the professionals at The Human Race Theatre Company.”
The season opening performance will be held from 9 to 11 p.m. Friday, April 1, at The Loft Theater. Tickets cost $15 in advance and are available at www.ticketcenterstage.com or by calling 937-228-3830. Tickets at the door cost $20. A cocktail reception will be held in the theater lobby from 8:30 to 9 p.m.
“We are pleased to co-present The Signature at The Loft Theatre,” said Human Race Producing Artistic Director Kevin Moore. “It’s a wonderful way to expand both of our audiences and to make good use of downtown’s most intimate and comfortable entertainment space ― The Loft Theatre.”
Poetri, Tony Award-winner and HBO Def Jam poet, will headline the show with a presentation of original material in which he infuses comedy and spoken word to discuss universal issues, such as relationships and money. Known as “the poet rock star,” Poetri has worked with such legends as Curtis Mayfield, Bootsy Collins and Nona Hendrix, as well as such contemporary stars as Tyler Perry , LL Cool J, Rosario Dawson, Jessie Dylan and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. He was one of the first poets to win a Tony Award for his own material on Broadway for Def Poetry Jam, and recently, President Barack Obama invited Poetri to attend the first spoken word event at the White House.
Poetri’s TV appearances include The Oprah Winfrey Show, Tyler Perry’s House of Pain and Bones, and he also has appeared in popular movies, such as Blades of Glory and Yes Man. Poetri has written and appeared in more than 150 commercials for such clients as Subway, Gatorade, Nike, NFL Films, BET and Arby’s, and he worked with the Black Eyed Peas on a series of award-winning online digisodes for Snickers called “InstantDef.” In addition, Poetri is one of the founders of one of the largest weekly poetry venues in the nation, which attracts more than 350 people every Tuesday.
The evening’s other featured performer will be vocalist and spoken word artists Theresa tha S.O.N.G.B.I.R.D., who blends spoken word, hip-hop, blues and jazz into her work, which makes light of heartache and encourages people to grow from life’s pains and challenges. A Chicago native who now lives in Atlanta, her performance is a mix of Southern sass and Windy City wit.
Theresa tha S.O.N.G.B.I.R.D. has performed in cities throughout the United States, released several spoken word albums, and written and appeared in two independent films. She is a cast member of The Coochie Chronicles, a spoken-word AIDS awareness stage play based in Cincinnati, and currently is touring with Georgia Me Presents Adam’s Rib, sharing the stage with Tony- and Emmy award-winning poet Georgia Me, as well as nationally known poets Tasha Jones and M’Reld Green. In addition, Theresa tha S.O.N.G.B.I.R.D. has coached acting and public speaking to young people for the past seven years, and her students have won several awards and hold three Illinois state championships. She also volunteers with Ayudagente, which helps feed Atlanta’s homeless community, and she sponsors charitable showcases to benefit Aniz Inc., which works to combat AIDS/HIV in the African American community.
Also during the event, El Coats and the Funk Point will perform a melting pot of rhythm and blues with a neo-soul twist, and Columbus Slam poet Will Evans will be the guest emcee.
The theme for the fourth season of The Signature is “What Does It Mean to Be a Poet?” Other performance dates include June 17 and Aug. 15. The season will culminate with the third annual Regional Academic and Cultural Collaborative (RACC), which spotlights urban arts and entertainment while giving Dayton-area students an opportunity to connect with some of the industry’s top names. The first two RACC events brought in hip-hop heavyweights Common and Lupe to discuss their work.
During its first three seasons, “The Signature: A Poetic Medley Show” featured local and national poets, musicians, actors, vocalists, dancers and visual artists presenting numerous forms of self-expression ― often to sold-out crowds. In late 2010, Oral Funk Poetry Productions took its show on the road as part of a planned expansion to produce The Signature in other Ohio cities. Its first venture outside of Dayton was a mid-November show and related events in Toledo. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/thesignatureofpp.