Words on the Street is a mystery, and the crime involves all humanity. An infant is abducted and the Seven Deadly Sins play out their power struggle while pandemonium reigns in a dystopian world teeming with hearsay and falsehood and plagued by threat and insecurity. 

Words on the Street is a hybrid performance event that wrestles with power, complacency and excess, collaboratively conceived and developed by poet Anna Rabinowitz, director Kristin Marting, video designer Lianne Arnold, and the late composer Matt Marks (1980-2018). A diverse ensemble of designers and 7 performers innovatively deploy original text, live cinematography, eclectic music and gestural vocabulary. 

Chaos, disarray, multiple realities define the times and the Seven Deadly Sins are eager to establish their hegemony. Baby, a tabula rasa, weaves her way through the action, her innocence posing a potent threat to the Sins. They call a summit meeting in order to address the crisis of power they face.

The atmosphere, reeking of absurdity and the macabre, is choked with graffiti, hearsay and lies. Baby is abducted. All humanity is implicated. Pride is our red-hot Mama; Greed gallops through the streets; Gluttony is obsessed with death. Lust, Sloth, Wrath, Envy conspire, act up, act out. Words on the Street is not for the faint of heart. It immerses the audience in a perilous clash with complacency, in an urgency we cannot ignore. 

Anna’s recently published poems are the jumping off point for a work that tackles humanity’s ongoing battle with sin and vice. The poems are relevant today as our society’s fundamental values are assaulted. Risk-taking with form and content is the core of Kristin’s directorial work. The texts in Words inspire her to create in direct response to the current political and social climate and to engender a broader conversation about our society’s values. Her signature stylized gestural vocabulary will be contrasted with evocative naturalistic acting. Matt’s music, amplified by the original music by the other 7 composers, adapts, refracts and expands Anna’s texts using an unexpected variety of vocal and instrumental forms. Deconstructing common tropes from opera, music-theatre and pop, Matt’s music creates a unique sonic experience. Lianne’s video will function in three ways: fleshing out the reality of the world, providing insight into the psychological experience of the characters, and stylistically supporting the structure of the poems and the music. She will use live camera, archival images and originally crafted footage to create a synthesized visual environment.

The four artists spearhead a process of exploration among a group of diverse and open-minded generative artists including music director Mila Henry, additional compositions by Lainie Fefferman, John Glover, Mary Kouyoumdjian, David T. Little, Kamala Sankaram, Caroline Shaw, and Randall Woolf, designers Lucrecia Briceno, Hugo Fowler, Kate Fry, and Arnulfo Maldonado as well as performers acclaimed soprano Lauren Flanigan, Sumayya Ali, Paul An, Caitlin Cisco, John Kelly, Paul Pinto, and Adrian Rosas.

Working as an ensemble throughout the creative process, we have embraced the integral role that a multiplicity of perspectives contributes to complex, engaging and highly original work, and the importance of an inclusive process to craft a unique audience experience. Our project has evolved from the collaborative ideas of committed artists.

The show will premiere at Baruch Performing Arts Center on October 26 and run for a limited engagement through November 4. Tickets here.