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Bill Moyers on Faith & Reason
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BILL MOYERS: What in the world possessed you to take a 3,000-year-old Greek play and turn it into a racy, modern myth?

WILL POWER: Well, there's a few things. I mean, one, in hip-hop culture, one of the things about hip-hop is, how do you take something old, and what we call, "flipping." How do you flip it?

BILL MOYERS: "Flipping" means you turn it.

WILL POWER: Flipping means you turn it into something that's relevant and powerful for today. And a lot of people-- outside of hip-hop, of course, they don't realize this, but a lot of hip-hop is based on flipping. And so, you might take an old record. You might take a Barry White record; or a Stevie Wonder record. Or I may take Bill Moyer's voice.

And I'm not-- well, you know, people have done it. You take-- you take it, and you might reverse it; play it slower; chop it up, you know. Add your own baseline. And you create something new.

And so, really, what hip-hop is a lot of people think it's uncreative because this is one of its bases. But really, what it is, is it's paying homage to elders. Paying homage to ancestors. It's having the conversation with music and cultural styles that have come before. And updating them. That's really what a lot of what hip-hop is.

So, for me, looking at, being a hip-hop artist, but also a theatre artist how do I take something that's an old story and, that's still relevant today. Because, you know, a lot of these Greek tragedies dealt with these-- these human things out there, that we're still struggling with.

The-- how do I make that bridge over in today's society, so that someone like myself, or someone younger, will be able to connect with it.

BILL MOYERS: You performed an extreme makeover on Aeschylus' play. I mean, you got this — you came from this stately cadence of ancient Greek, to doo-wap, and blues and then rap. And that was not just borrowing here and there. You really made it over.

WILL POWER: I mean, I made it over. But I did try to stick to the original themes. And I just tried to imagine, if these characters — these heroic and tragic figures were alive today, what would they look like? And who would Oedipus be in my community?

BILL MOYERS: Who would he be?

WILL POWER: Well, that's the thing. Oedipus, you know, in the original thing, he's just-at least when I take them in SEVEN AGAINST THEBES, he was this bitter guy-- he feels like he's been done wrong. You know. He used to have a-- he used to be a high-- of a high stature.

He had a fall from grace. So, for me, that'd be someone who's come, like an old hustler from the seventies, you know. Who used to be kind of hip; but now he's kinda old school.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, he shows up in your play, strutting across the stage as a pimp.

WILL POWER: Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. He used to be a pimp. He used to have that power. But he's lost it. It's like a fall from grace. And in my community, a lot of the old hustlers from the seventies, that used to be, what we call, "high rollers," are now kind of, you know, of lower stature.

You know, they weren't able to make that transition. So that's what Oedipus was for me. There's a character-- by the name of Eteocles; and he's a warrior. And in the original, he's described as one of the seven warriors that ride a horse.

You know, he's like, really into a horse-- he has tons of horses. And so, I was like, so what would that be in my world? And I'm from California. So, for me, that was-- that warrior would be a policeman on a horse. You know what I mean? That's what that would be.

So, as different as these characters ended up being in my version, I like to think that I tried to stick to the original, in terms of the vibration of it.



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