Spoken word poet Beau Sia, with collaborators James Kass, Paul Flores, and Marc Bamuthi Joseph of Youth Speaks, explored archetypal, cross-cultural and contemporary concepts of manhood through a spoken word theater piece titled No Man’s Land.
Youth Speaks is a leading Bay Area platform for developing and presenting spoken word poetry. Its founder and executive director James Kass, along with instructor/mentor Paul S. Flores and program director Marc Bamuthi Joseph, created the organization as a cultural, educational, and leadership development program for San Francisco Bay Area youth. In No Man’s Land, these three poets and Beau Sia “turned the tables” and, rather than teaching and mentoring young writers, they developed their own spoken word material and then sought criticism and production ideas from teenagers. Kamilah Forbes, director of the New York Hip Hop Festival, helped them to shape the work’s ultimate presentation.
Each poet comes from a different cultural background. Beau Sia is a Chinese-Filipino literary performance artist, poet, and author, who arrived in San Francisco after achieving critical success in New York City and on the National Poetry Slam stage. He later appeared in Russell Simmon’s Def Poetry Jam in San Francisco and on tour. Marc Bamuthi Joseph, a first generation Haitian-American, moved from a childhood on television and Broadway to stints with the Senegalese National Ballet, and to becoming a National Poetry Slam Champion. Paul S. Flores is a Mexican-Cuban-Serbian novelist and performance poet who grew up on the border towns of Tijuana/San Diego and formed Los Delicados, a Latino Poetry Troupe. Fiction writer and poet James Kass, grew up in New York, a descendant of the Jewish intellectual scene.
The finished work was presented on September 20 and 21, 2002 at ODC/Theater, and on November 5, 2002 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.