RCAH welcomes Marc Bamuthi Joseph to first WNL of 2014-15

Arts activist and performer Marc Bamuthi Joseph joined the RCAH on September 10 as the first Wednesday Night Live guest of the year. In addition to working as the director of performing arts at Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, Joseph is connected with programs such as Youth Speaks and Life is Living, which work to promote arts engagement in underprivileged communities.

Steve Baibak, RCAH LookOut! Gallery preparator, said he first heard of Joseph while visiting San Francisco. It was Baibak’s 39th birthday, and a friend treated him to Joseph’s show.

“He blew me away. I love that he incorporates poetry and dance. It’s a performance, you know?” Baibak said, noting that the show in San Francisco incorporated video and live music in addition to theater, poetry and dance. “He’s a full on out performer, but it was his. He owned it.”

Baibak said he thought Joseph would be a good fit for the RCAH because of his commitment to life and humanitarianism.

“He said, ‘Life is like hip hop when you spin on your head – if you don’t commit, you break your neck,’” Baiback said. “I knew that the performative aspects of him would be very attractive to the students, and I knew the faculty would get into it as well. He’s seeking answers, he’s not giving dissertations about what things are, he’s questioning, and that’s RCAH. It’s about that search, that journey.”

During his visit, Bamuthi also visited RCAH Professor Lisa Biggs’ 192 course, “Introduction to Performance Theory and Analysis.”

RCAH students Sarah Teppen and Emily LaForme are in Biggs’ class. LaForme said she thought Joseph’s performance was especially relevant this year in relation to MSU’s 60/50 Project.

“With all the talk of race and change going on, Marc was great to see and hear about his own thoughts and work. I think it inspired many students,” LaForme said, noting that Joseph’s performance gave her things to consider in her own work as an artist.

“I always wanted to hear what he said next, especially in talk of his struggles with fatherhood. I was moved hearing his sincerity about his experiences,” she said. “Honesty is something I deeply admire in performances like his.”

Teppen said she thought Joseph was inspirational.

“His work makes me feel like I’m not alone, it’s okay and it’s good to experiment with things, especially in an environment like RCAH,” Teppen said. “I’m not much of a performer per se, I think anyone that knows me would attest to that, but he inspires me to think. He inspires me to observe, and formulate my own beliefs in due course.”


The second WNL of 2014-15 is on October 8 with HighWaterLine co-coordinator and activist Heidi Quante. Find more event details here.

Story by RCAH student Kelsey Block. Story images by RCAH student Ian Siporin. Header image by Niki Rudolph.

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