OSF coordinates with Mobius for hip-hop mash-up

Photos by Thom Larkin | Daily TidingsClaudia Alick was the featured poet at Mobius? first poetry slam and open mike Monday night at its new location.

Employeed Poor (an excerpt) A poem by Claudia Alick

Living in this city ain’t no joke! Property is still the great divider cause landowners still got all the power. What’s the difference between me and an indentured servant when 50 percent of my pay check goes just to pay rent? I’ve got collectors siphoning me off just a little at a time these monthly bleedings got me losing my mind! I’m talking GAS, Electric, phone — I aint even got CABEL! — If luxury is the Garden of Eden then call me Cain and Abel cause I am fighting with myself. Struggling to retain my drive cause ya have to keep on hustlin if ya want to stay alive. See, I gambled on education but all I got is loans, I went for the chicken but instead I got the bones. I’m living in a Lilliputian apartment and I’m feeling like Gulliver. I’ve got a bedroom/dining/living-room/other. I’ve got a loft bed where I sleep high in the sky. I climb the ladder each night reaching for my piece of the pie.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Mobius, and MOJO Rising teamed up to offer Ashland's poets, musicians and performers a chance to strut their stuff in the first of its monthly mixers. The event featured spoken word and hip-hop performances, combined with an open mike that blended poetry, music and theater into a wild medley of local talent. The mixer was the first of its kind held in the new Mobius venue at 140 Lithia Way.

The featured poet, Claudia Alick, is also an associate producer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She said the connection with OSF and a hip-hop themed event is owed in part to the vision of OSF's artistic director, Bill Rauch.

"One of Rauch's passions is exploring different theater models that connect to young people today. Hip-hop and spoken word are natural connections with OSF's language-based theater," Alick said.

The Mobius mixer grew out of several workshops she has helped organize on improvisational performance and community open mikes.

Members of the featured band, One Movement, agree that hip-hop can be a connecting force in the community.

"There are a lot of people hungry for hip-hop in this town," said singer Luci Be. "Our music is positive and consciousness-raising. Little kids even like it, and parents aren't embarrassed to have them hear it."

— — The Mobius featured its first poetry slam and open mic on MOnday.

In addition to the featured artists, there was a diverse array of performances, from Shakespearean sonnets to whistling bird calls to stand-up comedy. If the evening had a theme it was collaboration. Performers loaned one another their instruments, text-messaged friends to come and read poems and cheered one another on.

This theme of collaboration was reflected in the new space. The owners of MOJO Rising, Mobius and Equilibrium Television merged their production efforts under the name Equilibrium in the location on Lithia Way.

Jason Gallagher, founding executive of EQ.tv, saw the event as an ideal use of the space.

"The atmosphere here is much more ecstatic. We've got performances like these in the evenings, and during the day we're producing TV shows on the Internet," he said. "Ashland is an incubator of sorts, we're doing a new media model."

Shy performers were pleased to have EQ.tv's live webcast of the event; one singer even watched some of the action online before deciding to attend.

In addition, several high school students showed off their musical talents, many for the first time.

"I never really sang in front of people before," said Ashland High student Jeff Hall, whose performance was rewarded with enthusiastic applause.

"It is really fun to see the young kids have their musical debuts in front of such a warm crowd," said one audience member.

The mix of music, poetry and theater enhanced the evening for audiences and performers.

"This is an interesting collaborative event," said Alick. "It is richer and freer having a community event with the Mobius. I love an open, open mike."

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