Octagon by Kristiana Rae Colón
After Tahrir and Wall St get occupied, after the NSA taps all the phones and Syria kills all the journalists, the poets have much to say. Amidst the backdrop of a last-minute poetry slam, eight young poets traverse stages and the tightropes of their braided desires. Chimney, Chad, and Palace have an open slot on their team, and five other poets compete for it. The fiercest contender, Prism, is a woman with an...
After Tahrir and Wall St get occupied, after the NSA taps all the phones and Syria kills all the journalists, the poets have much to say. Amidst the backdrop of a last-minute poetry slam, eight young poets traverse stages and the tightropes of their braided desires. Chimney, Chad, and Palace have an open slot on their team, and five other poets compete for it. The fiercest contender, Prism, is a woman with an appetite she’s not ashamed of, but the reigning champs have a hard time seeing her as more than a good-time girl. As love triangles become pentagons and octagons, Prism’s unbridled desires threaten to have her silenced for good. With three minutes to sway the judges, eight poets must decide which is more important, the points or the poetry, the privilege of free speech and expression, or the celebrity that comes along. Octagon rips open the clichés of the open mic, asking the cost of making a spectacle of ripping open our wounds.
D E V E L O P M E N T H I S T O R Y
Octagon was selected by Arizona Theater Company for the 2014 National Latino Playwriting Award. It was also selected for the 2014 Dionysos Cup Festival of Staged Readings produced by Polarity Ensemble Theatre in Chicago and the Trellis Reading Series at the Greenhouse Theater in Chicago. In 2013, Bailiwick Chicago produced its first public reading in Chicago. It was developed in London in collaboration with director Nadia Latif. Octagon was conceived in a residency at the University of Illinois-Chicago in collaboration with director Derrick Sanders, former artistic director of Congo Square Theater.
In February 2013, during Kristiana’s self-produced two-month book tour of the UK with her collection of poems promised instruments, she shared an early incomplete draft of Octagon with Nadia Latif, the London director who mounted the world premiere of her first play but i cd only whisper in October 2012. Nadia was thrilled about a new opportunity to collaborate and encouraged Kristiana to draft a complete version of the script before returning to the United States. Before leaving the UK, Kristiana produced a table reading of this new draft of Octagon in London with a cast of British slam poets and actors. She produced another such table reading in Chicago with American poets and actors in July 2013. In September 2013, Nadia traveled Chicago for a 5-day workshop to continue refining the play.
Octagon is also developed in partnership with Prop Thtr through an original event series called Octagon Live, an auxiliary program conceived by Kristiana Colón wherein actors working on the development of the play compete in character in a real poetry slam against other poets for an equal chance at a $100 prize. The series allows actors an opportunity to experience the real world of slam and bridges the spoken word and theatre going audiences.