Meet Our Newest Affiliate, Rhymes Over Beats: A Hip Hop Theater Company

Patrick Blake

A few words from Patrick Blake, founder of Rhymes Over Beats

Rhymes over Beats is a company of hip hop theater artists. We believe that musical theater thrives and grows when the music being written for theater is the popular music of the day. Our mission is to connect Rappers, Actors, Directors, Producers, and Playwrights to create Hip Hop theater pieces.

Our first production will be Freedom! A musical about unjust conviction starring Maino, written by playwright Patrick Blake and Chicago rapper Chi-Ill.

Mainstream commercial theater resists new musical forms. It took almost 20 years from Rock Around The Clock to the first rock musical (Hair) to hit the stage. It’s been 40 years since DJ Kool Herc started and while there have been hip hop musicals at the indie theater level there still has been no hip hop musical off-Broadway or Broadway. But when theater began 2000 years ago with the Greeks, the form they used consisted of actors speaking/chanting rhymes that told stories over musical beats. Theater began as hip hop. It just drifted away from that. We believe it’s time to get back to our roots.

In 1943 six of the top ten songs in the billboard list were either from a Broadway musical or written by someone who wrote Broadway musicals (like Irving Berlin or Jule Stein). Forty years later, in 1983, there were none. Our goal is to make 2023 look like 1943. – Pat

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Patrick Blake  is a playwright/producer based in New York and San Francisco.

He has written:
Freedom! A Hip Hop Musical, a play about unjust convictions, the first production of Rhymes Over Beats, coming soon.
E.V., about a bar on Avenue A in the East Village  done at NY Performance Works.
First Date, about a young woman trying to make it as an actress in New York done at NY Performance Works and South Street Seaport Theater.
The Reading, about two women, friends from grade school, who go to a psychic and find out more than they want done at Metropolitan Playhouse.
The Raven Prepares, about what an actor thinks about when they are onstage through an entire play with only one line to say.
The Press Release, about what happens when a politician gets caught doing something he shouldn’t done at The Playwright’s Center of San Francisco’s Sheherezade Festival.
Savior of NY, about what happens when a New Yorker gets mad that the Building Department and the Landmarks Commission can’t agree on what he can do with his building.
Protocol-Z. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) designs a plan about what to do if  attacked by Zombies
Menage a Trois.  Three short plays about love and relationships.
A Story Conference in Pilot Season. What if organized crime funded all the forensic shows on television.
3 Witches. Three witches but one wish, so be careful what you wish for.
And They All Lived Happily Ever After. Except when we know they don’t.
The More Things Change. Were things really better in the good old days?
All done at The Player’s Theater Short Play and Musical Festival.

He has produced:
The Exonerated.  A documentary play about six real people who were sentenced to death for something they did not do. I produced the off-Broadway production and the national tour. It won Drama Desk. Lucille Lortel, and Outer Critics Circle Awards.
In The Continuum. A two character play about an African woman and an African-American woman who are HIV positive and pregnant. How they and the society they live in deal with it. It won two Obie Awards. I produced the off-Broadway production. The Edinburgh Fringe production, and a National and International tour.
Play Dead, a play with scary magic tricks. It was nominated for a Drama Desk Award.

And also:
Noah’s Archive at the Ohio Theatre
Joe Fearless at the Atlantic Theatre
American Girls at 45th Street Theatre
The Soap Myth at South Street Seaport
Dirty Works at Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Once A Man Twice A Boy at Irish Arts Center

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