Spoken word extraordinaire George Watsky brings his rapid-fire poetry to the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center (SMPAC) Monday, October 17. “Poet George Watsky is nothing short of genius. He is able to deftly get us laughing at our human foibles while molding our minds and hearts into agents of change. He is both inspiring and funny, powerful and accessible with the wit of a man 10 times his age,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Watsky was selected for our season because he’s an innovative and entrepreneurial young artist. He is at the forefront of a national movement to bring poetry out of an academic setting and into the public through inspired performance. In presenting him at the SMPAC, we hope to showcase a cutting-edge, contemporary art form and awaken a thirst for creative expression in the student and adult audiences,” explains SMPAC Director Chad Piechocki.
In an effort to connect with patrons outside the South Milwaukee area, the SMPAC will collaborate with Still Waters Collective (SWC) – the Milwaukee-based spoken word organization that uses “creative writing and spoken word as tools for building leadership and shaping self-esteem.” SWC will host the first ever Southeast WI Spoken Word Showcase as an opening act to Watsky’s performance. The Showcase will start at 7 pm with emcee Watsky. George will perform his environmentally-conscious poem, “Carry the One” at 7:30 pm. An open mic for students and adults is scheduled to follow.
George was extremely generous with his time during his one day stop in South Milwaukee. In addition to the evening performance he will perform a student matinee at 10 am and then after school he will lead a workshop on spoken word performing with students. Tickets for the matinee performance are $5. Tickets for the evening performance are $10 for adults and $5 for students and may be purchased by calling the SMPAC Box Office at 414-766-5049 or online at www.southmilwaukeepac.org.
George Watsky is a writer and performer who believes in the equal power of the tear and the belly laugh. Born and raised in San Francisco and now based in Los Angeles, he aims to cross-pollinate the stage, screen and stereo with work that speaks to both the humor and frustrations of modern life.
George was featured on Season 6 of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry on HBO. He was the 2006 Youth Speaks Grand Slam Poetry Champion, 2006 Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam Champion and performed in a record six consecutive Youth Speaks Grand Slam Finals. The last three of those audiences, all topping out at over 3,000, were the largest ever for poetry slams anywhere in the world. In 2009 Watsky was one of three poets who performed live on FOX at the NAACP Image Awards in honor of Russell Simmons’ lifetime achievement award, and in 2011 he performed live as a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show on two separate occasions.
George has made strides to bring his poetic sensibilities to the theater world. His one-man show So Many Levels has been presented in Boston, San Francisco, Vermont and at the Hip Hop Theater Festival Critical Breaks series in New York City. He has also been featured at the San Francisco and Washington, DC arms of the Hip Hop Theater Festival. He played the title character and co-wrote a 2004 adaptation of Dante’s Divine Comedy for the Living Word Festival and his stage play Harold’s Fall or King Will is the recipient of the 2009 Rod Parker Playwriting Fellowship.
Taking it to the page and stereo, George’s debut poetry collection and CD, Undisputed Backtalk Champion, was published by First Word Press in 2006. Edited by novelist Adam Mansbach, the book is currently in its fourth printing. As an emcee, Watsky has performed on both coasts with his band Invisible Inc. The trio’s self titled album, a blend of jazz and hip hop, features R&B sensation Passion. George’s self-released debut, Watsky, reached as high as #7 on the iTunes Hip Hop albums chart.
An honorary graduate of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership in Melbourne, George has emerged as part of a vanguard of artists involved in the sustainability movement. The inaugural Speak Green winner for poetry on climate change, Watsky was twice invited by Robert Redford to perform in Sundance, Utah. He served as host of Green Mic in San Jose, California and of the culminating concert of Powershift 2007 in Washington DC, and performed at Rock the Debate in Oxford, Mississippi, prior to 2008′s first Presidential debate. His work has brought him to the opening plenary of Green Cities 2008 in Sydney, Australia, and Greenbuild Chicago, where he took the stage immediately before President Bill Clinton.
Touring while finishing his college education on a condensed schedule, George has performed at conferences and universities in more than half the states in the U.S. and two in Australia, appearing at some of the nation’s most notable venues, including the Apollo Theater, the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, the San Francisco Opera House and the Shrine Auditorium. He has shared billing with, among others, Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt and Mohammed Ali.
George graduated from Emerson College with a B.A. in “Writing and Acting for the Screen and Stage,” studying with Keith Johnstone, Ken Cheeseman, Robbie McCauley, Sarah Hickler, Amelia Broome and Andrew Clarke.
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