Drew Anderson (poetically known as “Droopy, The Brokeballer”), one half of the #DynamicDuo that is responsible for producing the weekly Thursday open mic Spit Dat since 2002, describes the new monthly residency at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre as an event with “big stage quality” and a “living room vibe.”
This poetry veteran and his co-producer compadre, Dwayne Lawson-Brown (poetically known as “The Crochet Kingpin”…but this moniker is also because he knits scarves and hats to produce outerwear for the forthcoming cold weather) have a special talent for continuously pleasing the most diverse of audiences with their special brand of performing known as spoken word. Kristen, the Connectivity Director at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, helped to bring this artistry with the ingredients of poetry, improvisation, stage presence,together with an open audience to create a delicious environment to feed all in attendance with the energy needed to feel better than when s/he first walked in.
First, I thought this event was similar to the duo’s production, From Gumbo to Mumbo (done earlier this year in DC and has a Baltimore run October 16-20), but in traditional “open mic” fashion, the residency has an unscripted portion of the show where many of the performers who grace the microphone (mostly) try to adhere to the theme given. This month’s theme was “Dat’s Love.” So, to show the variety, those who step to the stage range from the self-love of a poetess cadencing her voice, expressing her appreciation of her inner and outer beauty to a young poetic Rockstar with a poem about the “self-love” known as “pleasing one’s self” (sexually).
The ”love” started with the spoken word sages “suited & booted.” Droopy rocked a fedora with his dressed-up look and Dwayne B. sported his locs with green tips showing how he can keep his eclectic, yet polished image as the two co-emcee an event with supporters spanning nearly their entire 17-year history on the performance roster…and an audience of mostly-first-time attendees (outside of the people on the open mic list). Sometimes Anderson and Lawson-Brown are analogous to “poetic pastors.” Not because of any proselytizing, but because they shepherd so many artisans into the greatness of their voice in the spoken word community. The “Shepherds”’ Pie Monday night didn’t disappoint as the newbies stayed from start to finish.
And it’s always a family reunion when the performing colleagues commune at these events. The stage had performers from the Kennedy Center, published authors, hosts from other poetry venues, grant awardees from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities and performers who have (literally) traveled the world.
October’s feature was C’est Lief (meaning “That’s Love”). The C’est Lief Band frequents multiple stages in the Baltimore/Washington region. Many season performers love the luxury of a live band that can play behind their poetry. The added value of instrumentation at this inaugural residency performance had supporters and new followers of the Spit Dat brand asking if the jazzy ensemble would be the monthly house band at their residency.
No one knew what to expect in this new chapter of the franchise. Many hope this will be a reality so some of the greatest talent in the National Capital Region can be cultivated through loving leaders in the art form (I often call Droopy one of the “Godfather”s of the DC Poetry Scene as, although he’s chronologically younger than me, he gave me one of my first full-length poetry features 15 years ago).
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The acoustics are great in the Smith/Melton Rehearsal Hall of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre on 641 D Street NW. Seating is excellent and comfortable for people of all shapes and sizes (I’m big and tall). This environment is one of the most inclusive environments that (literally) does not exclude anybody. My artistry comes from a faith-based tradition. Although some religious types may shake their heads at some crass and profane messages, people are respectful and appreciative of what everybody has to say. I stay true to my message (I was one of the last performers), yet I got over any prudishness quickly so I wouldn’t miss being blessed from any of my colleagues and vice versa.
Performances from reciters were the following: extemporaneous, readings from paper/journals, memorized performances, reading from their published books and/or 21st century readings from cell phones. Attending any event from the Spit Dat franchise for free/near free/donate-what-you-can for the featured performer often beats the quality of any $20+ performance in the genre.
This monthly residency goes until March…and we hope it continues well beyond! It’s First Mondays 8-10 PM (except December 2019 is a Second Monday). For More Information on Dwayne Lawson-Brown & Drew Anderson, please go to www.CrochetKingPin.com and www.BrokeBaller.com.
One for the Fall, November 4, 8pm
Femme Forward, December 9, 8pm
New Beginnings, January 6, 8pm
The “Blackity Blackity Black” Show, Feb 3, 8pm
“Speak American”, March 2, 8pm