Danny Hoch is one of the reasons I do theater the way I do it. I saw his Jails, Hospitals, and Hip-Hop back in 1997 (wow…way back when), and was struck by how he was able to use what he saw around him to create important, exciting, fun theater that mattered. Years later, I got to meet him through my own playwriting, and got probably the biggest validation of my young career when, after the first real reading of Welcome to Arroyo’s, a producer asked Danny what kind of work his Hip-Hop Theater Festival produced, and Danny pointed back to our stage and said “that.” (I hope that sentence makes sense.) Years after that, I found myself at Danny’s house, stirring the intricate squash-based meal he decided to whip up for a small group of friends who had come back to his place after a reading of Till the Break of Dawn. I say all this to point out that I have undying respect for and gratitude towards Danny as an artist, a producer, and a human being.
So maybe I’m a little biased, but I think that his new play Taking Over is one of the best pieces of theater I have ever seen. It does exactly what great hip-hop theater should be doing in this day and age: combining worlds, making disparate ideas and styles and cultures meet to form something new and powerful. It’s personal and it’s political. It’s hilarious and completely serious. It’s a relatively even-handed study of gentrification that still manages to take a strong point of view and stick to it wholeheartedly. I love this play. You need to go see it.