October 26, 2011
Related The other winners of Southern Methodist University’s new Meadows Prize have all been hip. The latest, Will Power, goes them one better. He’s hip-hop.
Power, 41, started out as a musical performer. He then forged a career as both writer and performance artist off-Broadway and on the festival circuit with works rooted in hip-hop style rhyming. Five years ago, American Theatre magazine did a cover story on him while New York magazine called him “the best verse playwright in America.” Last year he broke into the major regional theaters when New Jersey’s McCarter Theatre commissioned Fetch Clay, Make Man , starring Ben Vereen.
When José Antonio Bowen, dean of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, announced the Meadows Prize program during the opening night gala at the Wyly Theatre two years ago, Power was one of the celebrity performers.
That evening, he worked alongside movie star Bruce Willis, Broadway diva Faith Prince and Disney composer Alan Menken. A year later, Bowen named Power one of the prize winners. At the same time, the Dallas Theater Center announced it was commissioning a major new work from the writer.
“Our idea was to get cutting-edge artists who have not yet won a Pulitzer Prize or a MacArthur Fellowship — before the bandwagon has already gone by,” Bowen says.
Power came to SMU to work with students last spring. That worked out so well that the school found additional funding to bring him back this fall for a big original project. After weeks of commuting from his home in upstate New York, Power and his student actors and designers performed the show, Alice Underground, which ran Wednesday through Sunday.
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