|Actors David J Polk (left) and Glenn Quentin (right) rehearse with director Dr. Herukhuti (center)|
I wrote my first piece for Howlround, an online theater community, on a play by Dr. Herukhuti that explores Black sexual fluidity, biphobia, and polyamory among a group of friends in mid 90s Bed-Stuy and Flatbush, Brooklyn. My Brother's A Keeper covers a weekend in the lives of five homies with all kinds of interpersonal drama. Powerful story. Dope stage production.
When I think about funk music, I envision James Brown, Sly and The Family Stone, and Kool and The Gang, grooving, crafting, and breathing life into dance floor anthems, and encouraging us, sometimes all in the same song, to dance, protest, hump, live, and love hard as hell.
When playwright, director, and activist Dr. Herukhuti thinks about funk music, it’s often as the organizing framework for his cultural work and activism. Growing up with parents who were Black Panthers and grandparents who met while working as activists and organizers, funk was always present in his life, woven into his cultural sensibilities.
Over time, he began exploring and developing the concept of funk music as a radical, transgressive approach to examining and representing Black sexual politics—a new way to dive into and shake up our ideas around attraction, love, sex, and gender roles. He was eager to contribute meaningfully to the struggle for Black liberation.
Inspired by his lifelong love affair with the art form and the increasing use of jazz aesthetics—ensemble, improvisation, the bridge, and the break—in theatre, Herukhuti wondered, “How can I apply the funk to theatre? What would that look like?”