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American Ethnic poster
Remy Bumppo's thinkTank series

American Ethnic

Written by and featuring Usman Ally, Idris Goodwin, and Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

Directed by Nick Sandys

Presented March 12 - 29, 2009

This spring, join us for American Ethnic - the third annual production of Remy Bumppo thinkTank. American Ethnic is an original, collaborative work created and performed by nationally recognized spoken word artists Usman Ally, Idris Goodwin, and Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai. The piece combined hip-hop, spoken word, and theater aesthetics to examine the mass media's role in perpetuating cultural norms surrounding race and gender. World Premiere!

Visit the American Ethnic multimedia archive >
Listen to a collection of American Ethnic's post-show speakers >

Usman Ally is a Pakistani national who was born and raised in Southern and Eastern Africa for 18 years. Usman made his Chicago theatre debut in Tranquility Woods at Steppenwolf Theater Company. His one man show Public Enemy was featured in Remy Bumppo's 2008/09 thinkTank. He has appeared in productions at Victory Gardens Theater, Lookingglass Theatre, American Theatre Company, and A Red Orchid Theatre. He is founder of One Nation, the first Hip Hop Theatre troupe at University of Florida. He was named one of New City's top 5 actors of 2008. Visit Usman online >

Idris Goodwin is an award-winning cross disciplinary performance artist out to engage, inspire, and incite. The National Endowment for the Arts and The Ford Foundation have supported Idris' pursuit to explore and experiment with the blending of hip hop, spoken word, and theatrical aesthetics. Idris' numerous stage plays and solo performances have premiered across the country. Idris' break beat poetry was featured on season six of Russell Simmons' HBO Def Poetry and published in the Spoken Word Revolution Redux Anthology. Idris frequently teaches, performs, and lectures at institutions on themes of arts, culture, and activism.

Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai is a Chicago-born, Brooklyn-based, Chinese Taiwanese American spoken word artist who has given over 300 performances worldwide in notable venues like the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, House of Blues, Apollo Theater in Harlem, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and three seasons on HBO's Def Poetry. A frequent collaborator with filmmakers, choreographers, musicians, and theater artists, Tsai has released three chapbooks: Inside Outside Outside Inside (2004), Thought Crimes (2005), No Sugar Please (2008), and the CD Infinity Breaks (2006). She has shared stages with Mos Def, KRS-One, Sonia Sanchez, Talib Kweli, Erykah Badu, Amiri Baraka, and many more.


Nick Sandys Director
Amy Bertacini Production Stage Manager
Tim Morrison Scenic Designer
Samantha C. Jones Costume Designer
Stephanette Isabel Smith Lighting Designer
Nick Keenan Sound Designer