In high school English classes you probably had to read some poetry. You might have enjoyed it, or maybe you thought it was indecipherable and boring. If you’re in the second camp, the Mayhem Poets just might change your opinion.
“Their goal is to change the way we look at poetry and think about poetry,” said Anita DiAngelis, Mary B. Martin School of the Arts Director.
The group puts a modern spin on performance poetry by combining it with elements of theatre, hip hop, dance, improv and stand-up comedy. Next month, the Mayhem Poets will perform at ETSU as part of the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts spring performance series.
“It’s interesting to remember that performance poetry has been around for thousands of years,” DiAngelis said. “Homer’s ‘Iliad’ and Shakespeare are really performance poetry. This is just another take on that experience.”
The Mayhem Poets formed during the early 2000s while they were attending Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts. What started as a way to get out and share poetry on campus eventually bloomed into a performance act that’s been featured on “The Today Show” and in the “New York Times.” The group has toured internationally and visited universities across the country, bringing their unique style and energy wherever they go.
“Hearing poetry performed versus reading it gives you a completely different experience,” DiAngelis said. “I think a lot of us have gone to poetry readings in the past, but these guys are performing. It’s not just reading or reciting … and they also try to educate people at the same time that they’re having a lot of fun onstage.”
Whether you’re interested in theatre, dance, writing or none of the above, DiAngelis believes the Mayhem Poets have something to offer to anyone in the audience.
“Come in with an open mind and be prepared to have a lot of fun,” DiAngelis said.
The Mayhem Poets will perform on Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the D.P. Culp University Center on ETSU’s campus. Students tickets are $5, adult tickets are $15 and senior tickets are $10.