Austin Dean Ashford, a third-year student in the Master of Fine Arts program in playwriting and acting at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, performed his original play "(I)sland T(rap): The Epic Remixology of the Odyssey" for one night only Oct. 12 at an Off-Broadway venue in New York.
Ashford just finished starring in the department of theatre's production of "Clybourne Park" by Bruce Norris and then headed to New York to present the full version of his one-person show. He is traveling with theatre alum and director Cole Wimpee to the ninth annual United Solo Theatre Festival, which continues through Nov. 18 at in the Studio Theatre at Theatre Row on West 42nd Street in New York City. The show has already earned a variety of awards at regional festivals and has been invited to premiere at international venues and also be adapted into a film.
A video peek at “(I)sland T(rap)” is available at youtu.be/9buZit-O3yg.
The United Solo Theatre Festival is an annual international festival for solo performances. Through a variety of one-person shows, the festival explores and celebrates the uniqueness of the individual writers, performers and their story-telling methods. Ashford says he is "honored to be a part of the Solo Festival this year, because it will be my first time visiting New York ever, and I get the privilege of performing instead of just watching. I'll definitely be going to as many other shows that my time and budget allows though!" He adds he is very appreciative of the community support he has received and hopes to make each of his advocates proud.
"(I)sland T(rap)" is a hip-hop riff about Black Ulysses on an odyssey of self-discovery and a powerful exploration of a young artist of color navigating the turbulent waters of contemporary American culture while trying to find his authentic voice. The play includes lyrical poetry, live music and commentary on the African-American experience in America, a tour-de-force that charts a soul journey on an exotic island where Black Ulysses discovers his place in a society full of gun violence and oppression. Recently recognized by the Kennedy Center for Original Hip-Hop Script, this narrative dives into overcoming isolation through fantasy, myth and escape.
-- Ashley Cohea
Special to the NWA Democrat-Gazette
NAN What's Up on 10/14/2018