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Playwright Aaron Jafferis, pioneering breakers Kwikstep and Rokafella, beatboxers Adam Matta and Yako 440 — along with composer Rebecca Hart and director Christopher Edwards — combine their formidable talents to tell the story of three troubled souls who unite to help two bodies in crisis.
“How to Break” transports the audience into a hospital room where a socially awkward pediatric hematologist, a music therapist/yoga teacher and a nurse with a beatboxing problem try to save (or at least not screw up) an impulsive but intuitive b-boy with sickle cell anemia and a defiantly independent b-girl with leukemia. Together, all involved make a connection as they struggle to rise above the limitations of their diagnosis and redefine what it means to be “ill.”
Select performances of “How to Break” are followed by interactive panel discussions. On Oct. 24, “Total Chaos: Hip-Hop Culture & the ensemble creation process” takes you behind the scenes of the show. On Oct. 25, “Ill Art: Is Laughter Really The Best Medicine?” explores the role of creativity and humor in the healing process — and on Oct. 28, “CoSMO” invites health care practitioners to respond to the social, psychological and medical questions posed by the play.
Previews begin Thurs., Oct. 18, for an Oct. 23-Nov. 4 run. Performances are Tues.-Sat. at 7pm (with 2pm matinees on Sun., Oct. 28 & Nov. 4; 10:30pm performances on Fri., Oct. 26 & Nov. 2; no show Oct. 31). At HERE (145 Sixth Ave., 1 block below Spring St.). For tickets ($10 in advance, $18 24 hours prior, $20 on day of show), call 212-352-3101 or visit here.org. This production, FREE for students with valid student ID, is appropriate for ages 12 and up (strong language). For more info on the creative team, visit socialchangetheatre.org and hhtf.org.
THE ELI YAMIN BLUES BAND | Tribeca Performing Arts Center’s annual Spotlight series kicks off with the Eli Yamin Blues Band performing spiritual, classical, bebop and blues-infused selections from their debut CD (“I Feel So Glad”). For this Oct. 26 gig, the ensemble will feature violinist and vocalist Mazz Swift along with longtime band members Bob Stewart on tuba, LaFrae Sci on drums/vocals — and on piano and vocals, founder Eli Yamin (of whom Wynton Marsalis said, “I learn from Eli every time I see his work.”).
The Spotlight series continues on Nov. 9, with singer/songwriter Jonathan Spottiswoode’s band (Spottiswoode & His Enemies). On Dec. 14, it’s the Brooklyn-based four-piece “reduction-stutter-funk band” Aabaraki. New York’s top African-American comics are featured in headliner Sherrod Small’s “Best Black Show Ever,” on Feb. 15. On March 1, hear what the merger of traditional jug band energy, amped-up lap steel guitar and Chicago-style blues harp sounds like — when the eight-piece Hudson Valley band Spuyten Duyvil performs.
April 12’s show features The Brooklyn Women’s Chorus — and on May 10, the Spotlight series concludes with “Laughs for Mom,” a comedic pre-Mother’s Day celebration featuring stand-up Joe Matarese’s autobiographical recollections of his dysfunctional Italian family (which, given the show’s theme, might go light on mom jokes purely as a one-time courtesy). Adrienne Iapalucci and Paul Virzi are also on the bill.
The Eli Yamin Blues Band performs on Fri., Oct. 26, 8pm. At BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center (199 Chambers St., btw. Greenwich Ave. & West St.). Tickets: $15 ($10 when you purchase a Spotlight FIVE subscription). To order, call 212-220-1460 or visit tribecapac.org/spotlight.htm. Also visit tribecapac.org and eliyamin.com.