Artists & Projects Directory
Hip Hop artist and musician Baba Israel teams up with Leo Kay (Artistic Director of UK theater company, Unfinished Business) to create an explosive multi-disciplinary show, combining spoken word, video, and live music by Yako 440.
“The Spinning Wheel combines spoken word, Hip Hop, and experimental performative techniques in a way that is both revolutionary and yet utterly endearing.” – The Public Reviews, UK
Tour Dates Open. Full show, or excerpt with live band available for smaller venues
The Spinning Wheel remixes and reinterprets the life and work of Israel’s late father, Steve Ben Israel, a countercultural activist and member of iconic The Living Theatre. Stories are relayed through live-looping and projection mapping, and a bold and uplifting fusion of Hip Hop, jazz, and spoken word. The Spinning Wheel reflects on intergenerational connections, family legacy, political action, and the roles we play in the everyday lives of others.
Steve Ben Israel passed away in 2012, leaving behind a legacy and an archive documenting a lifetime of his work as a performer, activist, poet, and musician. Drawing on his father’s rich material for contextual inspiration and audio-visual content, Israel relays fascinating and humorous stories of the past—using personal anecdotes of growing up on the road with his father to reframe the socio-political movements of the 60s and 70s. Within The Spinning Wheel’s trajectory, Israel shares how he discovered his own passion for performing and the important role theater and music can play in responding to challenging times and real-world issues.
The archival imagery is projected behind Israel on a wall of cardboard boxes as he performs, wittingly interacting with the audience to create an intimate experience, while electronic musician Yako 440 underscores the show with a vibrant mix of Hip Hop, funk, jazz and soul.
The Spinning Wheel remixes past and present to explore human vulnerability and political integrity from the perspective of a son who both celebrates his father’s life while still mourning his death. The show reunites both family members and, in doing so, inspires us to look to the generations before us—and be transformed by those legacies we inherit.
****The Spinning Wheel can be performed as a full theatrical show with video projection, or as a more informal performance, featuring story excerpts threaded together by music from Israel’s band, Soul Inscribed.
Baba Israel and Leo Kay created the work in close collaboration with musician Yako 440. Video: Richard Ramchurn; Dramaturg: Talvin Wilks; Lighting Design: Mark Distin. The Spinning Wheel was developed in Bradford (UK) and in New York throughout 2013/14 and was supported by Theatre in the Mill, Bradford and Arts Council England. The piece was also supported by an Artist Residency at BRIC Arts Media in 2015.