Local musician Maria Isa, who is also an experienced actress, will be starring in a public reading of a new music-themed play by Idris Goodwin on March 2 and 3 at the Playwrights’ Center.
The REALNESS: the second break beat play tells the story of Thomas, who leaves his suburban home to experience hip-hop culture in the city. When he falls for an emcee named Prima, he finds himself cheating and scheming for her affection and unsure whether he’s truly in love, or just chasing his music dreams.
Playwright and hip-hop artist Idris Goodwin hails from Colorado and is a Playwrights’ Center Core Writer. The REALNESS is set during a crucial time for hip-hop. “The play takes place in ‘96, right when hip hop was questioning its own authenticity,” Goodwin said in a press release. “I like to think it’s when hip-hop went to college. Artists like Puff Daddy were bringing hip hop further into the mainstream as many artists like De La Soul and KRS-One were trying to preserve an essence they felt was true or real.”
Isa is a “SotaRican” (Minnesotan/Puerto Rican) hip-hop singer, rapper and performance artist who released her new album, Valley of the Dolls, last September. The multitalented musician and actor splits her time between the Twin Cities and Los Angeles, where she makes music and acts in indie film projects. She recently appeared in Justin Schell’s documentary on local musicians with faraway roots, We Rock Long Distance.
The REALNESS is Isa’s debut at the Playwrights’ Center, but she’s no stranger to Twin Cities theaters. She starred in a gritty production of Rent at the Lab Theater in 2010 with a down-to-earth portrayal of AIDS-stricken club dancer Mimi Marquez, the musical’s heroine. Reviewing that production, The Current’s Jay Gabler wrote that Isa “looks and sounds like a star; she nails her vocal solos with technical finesse and palpable emotion, and she wears her thigh-high black boots like she invented them.”
The readings will take place March 2 and 3 at 7 p.m. at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. The readings are free, but tickets are required; reservations can be made here.
Hailey Colwell is a journalism major at the University of Minnesota and a co-director of Theatre Corrobora.