San Francisco Bay Guardian
Joseph’s words can take an audience’s breath away, then coax out sighs, exclamations of approval, and finally drawing them to their feet.
YBCA presents its very own Marc Bamuthi Joseph, with The Living Word Project.

Developed with and Directed by Michael John Garcés
Choreography by Stacey Printz
Produced by MAPP International Productions

The dynamic work, /peh-LO-tah/ — a futbol framed freedom suite…, is both reflective and timely. It culminates the role of soccer in Joseph’s personal journey, and the sport as a precipitator of sociopolitical patterns. /peh-LO-tah/ appreciates soccer as a fixture of camaraderie, pride, and tradition across cultures. And yet, it is not innocent of exploitation. The work charges soccer with political, economic, and social significance. Themes of freedom and citizenship are surfaced through the lense of immigration. What is your place? What makes home, home? Joseph draws on his experiences as a child of Haitian immigrants, chronicles of his travels to World Cups in South Africa and Brazil, and his explosive hip-hop style. He equally appreciates conditions here in his own backyard, as the work is in tune to the pulse of Black Lives Matter, and responds to the movement.

At its core, the performance underlines the often overlooked relationship between sports and art. Dance and music are as universal a language as soccer. The soccer technique-inspired choreography complements the musical narratives performed in English and Portuguese. To the backdrop of South African drums. To the depth of provoking gospel. To charismatic poems. It is, as the award-winning poet-performer says, “a dance about the economy, choreographed to the rhythm of the beautiful game.”

Premiering at YBCA, /peh-LO-tah/ will continue on to notable venues including the Kennedy Center.

Artist Bio

Marc Bamuthi Joseph
Marc Bamuthi Joseph is an inaugural recipient of the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship, the winner of the 2011 Alpert Award in Theater, and an inaugural recipient of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. He has served as an advisor and panelist for the Rockefeller MAP Fund, the PEW Charitable Trust, and the Zellerbach Family Fund, among other national philanthropies. He is the founding program director of the exemplary nonprofit Youth Speaks, and a cofounder of Life Is Living, a national series of one-day festivals designed to activate under-resourced parks through hip-hop arts and focused environmental actions. Joseph recently premiered the Creative Time commission Black Joy in the Hour of Chaos in New York’s Central Park, and is currently completing a new work with Bill T. Jones for the Philadelphia Opera. He is chief of program and pedagogy at YBCA. His evening-length piece /peh-LO-tah/ has been commissioned by the Kennedy Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the Guggenheim Museum.



The Living Word Project
Amara Tabor-Smith
Tommy Shepherd
Traci Tolmaire
Yaw Agyeman

Scenic and Video Design, David Szlasa
Lighting Design, Tom Ontiveros
Sound Design, Rob Kaplowitz
Composer, Tommy Shepherd
Costume Design, Meghan Healey
Photography and Film, Joan Osato
Production Manager, Josh Johnson
Stage Management, Amanda Novoa

Less is more with a ticket package!

Make an evening of it, and see two performances on Nov 18. Enjoy discounted tickets to both /peh-LO-tah/ and Retribution with Tanya Tagaq.


Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.

YBCA Programs in 16-17 are made possible in part by:
The James Irvine Foundation

Additional Funding for YBCA Programs 16-17:
National Endowment for the Arts, Adobe, Abundance Foundation, Gaia Fund, Grosvenor, and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

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The Leslie and Merle Rabine 2016-17 Performance Season is made possible in part by: Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Panta Rhea Foundation.

Additional Funding for YBCA Performances 16-17: Surdna Foundation,, and Zellerbach Family Foundation.

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Photo:  Christine Marie

Program Credits

/peh-LO-tah/ — a futbol framed freedom suite… is produced by MAPP International Productions, NYC.

Pehlotah has been commissioned by the Kennedy Center for the Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago. It is made possible with funding support by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Project, with lead funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; The MAP Fund (a program of Creative Capital, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), Panta Rhea Foundation, Wattis Foundation, the Zellerbach Family Foundation, East Bay Community Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Critical developmental residencies have been provided by Southern Methodist University, Georgia Tech, Wesleyan University Center for the Arts and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Marc Bamuthi Joseph is a participant in the Global Connections – ON the ROAD program – funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the professional not-for-profit American Theatre.

Support for the pilot of moving and passing in Harlem and the Bronx, NYC is funded by Guggenheim Social Practice, an initiative supported by the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations.