Echoes through the Embers: Evoking Critical Consciousness through Hip Hop Theater
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Marginalized students face disparities that impact their ability to successfully navigate higher education. Educational institutions that provide spaces for these students to express and explore their experiences can create a foundation for their academic and social development throughout their collegiate experience. Hip Hop Theater is an emerging subgenre rooted in Hip Hop culture that uses some or all of the five elements of Hip Hop to express the narratives of underrepresented identities and communities. It serves as a platform to voice the stories of those silenced across generations. Hip Hop Theater becomes a space of learning, understanding, and exchanging ideas amongst artists and audiences to incite a stronger engagement with the various topics and sociopolitical issues experienced by marginalize communities that are addressed in the productions. Exploring professional and student-based sites of Hip Hop Theater, this work observes the genre’s utility in educational spaces through a textual analysis of three prominent productions, Manikin, Rose Gold, and Break the Cycle, written by scholars within a Hip Hop arts program in higher education. This analysis examines Hip Hop Theater as a site for evoking critical consciousness in the authors, performers, and potentially audience members in educational spaces. It highlights the transformative and empowering aspects of the genre for the authors and performers with data collected from ethnographic interviews. This work further analyzes the dialogical engagement talk backs offer to ignite the necessary conversations that produce positive change for underrepresented students in higher education. Hip Hop Theater is analyzed as a versatile and accessible artistic genre that can empower, transform, educate, and inspire by providing a platform for the expression and reclamation of underrepresented identities and experiences in higher education. This work establishes a format for Social Justice Theater that can be used as a method in multicultural educational spaces, highlighting Hip Hop Theater’s utility as a form of Social Justice Theater. This work concludes with Hip Hop Theater’s applicability in secondary education, higher education, and non-profit arts-based initiatives that serve marginalized youth. It explores Hip Hop Theater’s as an alternative mode of knowledge production that values embodied knowledge and helps marginalized students evolve their own critical consciousness of their lived experiences both within and outside of academia.
Hip Hop Theater
Social Justice Theater
Break the Cycle
Street, Ashley Noel (2016). Echoes through the Embers: Evoking Critical Consciousness through Hip Hop Theater. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from