Blackbird, Fly | NCSU Campus: Titmus Theatre | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week

Clubs & Concerts

Blackbird, Fly

When: Sept. 22-23 2015

N.C. STATE’S TITMUS THEATRE, RALEIGH—Violinist and composer Daniel Bernard Roumain is addicted to engagement. That’s what keeps him coming back to the students and faculty at N.C. State.

“You always hope for a return engagement,” he says. “Here it feels like family. It feels like home.” This year, Roumain, also known as DBR, brings Blackbird, Fly to Raleigh. It’s a collaborative concert of stories, music, poetry and movement with spoken-word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph. Blackbird, Fly is woven together from memories of both artists’ Haitian-American upbringings and shared concerns, such as racially charged violence and inequity. The show’s vignette structure will likely change between the back-to-back performances based on how the audience responds to questions and prompts from the performers.

“We’ll just ask someone in the audience, ‘How are you feeling right now? Give us a word for what you’re feeling,’” DBR says. “That’s enough for a six- or seven-minute section of the concert. Marc and I don’t rehearse—we’re always performing. We’re always having a conversation. And the promise of a great conversation is that you’re learning.”

Both artists are accomplished performers in formal settings. DBR has composed works for the Boston Pops Orchestra, Carnegie Hall and ESPN, even receiving an Emmy nomination for outstanding musical composition. Joseph has premiered work at the Humana Festival of New American Plays and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. He garnered a Bessie nomination for his full-evening theater work red, black & GREEN: a blues.

Both artists relish the chance to make a deeper, more personal connection with an audience. N.C. State crowds remind DBR of the situations in which he and Joseph grew up. As sons of immigrant parents, they were profoundly shaped by the cultural collisions of languages, folklore and religion. He sees these marks in audiences here, too. “Raleigh is in the South, but what does that mean? It’s such an international place now,” he says. “You might not even hear a Southern accent anymore.”

DBR and Joseph will spend the better part of a week on campus asking and answering that question, performing on consecutive nights, meeting with faculty and students for a variety of talks and workshops and even teaching a feminist theory class. By showtime, they should have plenty of material available. 8 p.m., $26, 2241 Dunn Ave., Raleigh, 919-515-1100, www.ncsu.edu/ centerstage.com. —Chris Vitiello

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