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Aaron Jafferis

New Haven, CT   

AARON JAFFERIS is a hip-hop poet and playwright whose honors include a Creative Capital Award, Richard Rodgers Award, Sundance Institute / Time Warner Fellowship, NEFA National Theatre Pilot Grant, MacDowell Fellowship, Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, Barbour Playwright’s Award, NYMF Most Promising New Musical Award, and The Dramatist’s “50 To Watch.”

His hip-hop musicals Kingdom, Stuck Elevator, How to Break, Blood Magic, Shakespeare: The Remix, and No Lie have been produced, presented, or developed by The Old Globe, Public Theater, Sundance Theatre Lab, Atlantic Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, HERE, Hip Hop Theater Festival, TheatreWorks/Silicon Valley, On the Boards, St. Louis Black Rep, Capital Rep, Zachary Scott Theatre, International Festival of Arts & Ideas, Yale Institute for Music Theatre, Nuyorican Poets Café, Passage Theatre, ReVision Theatre, Queens Theatre in the Park, National Alliance for Musical Theatre, New York Musical Theatre Festival, International Community Arts Festival in The Netherlands, John Jay College, Collective Consciousness, and Bregamos.

How to Break (a collaboration with breaking pioneers Kwikstep and Rokafella, graffiti legend Part One, and beatboxers Adam Matta and Yako 440) was co-produced by HERE and the Hip-Hop Theater Festival in association with Collective Consciousness Theater in October 2012. Stuck Elevator (music by Byron Au Yong, direction by Chay Yew) will premiere at the American Conservatory Theatre in April 2013.

Artist residencies include two Sundance Theatre Institute Labs, NYU’s Asian / Pacific / American Institute, the MacDowell Colony, TheatreWorks/Silicon Valley, Weston Playhouse, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Aaron has written poetry for the Urban Bush Women and The Nation, and performed at the Kennedy Center and the National Poetry Slam Championships, where he is a former Open Rap Slam champion.

He received his BA in Arts & Social Change from the University of California at Berkeley, studied at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and received his MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU, where he was an Alberto Vilar Global Fellow in the Performing Arts.

He teaches poetry and hip-hop theatre in schools, hospitals, health centers, community organizations, and detention centers in his hometown of New Haven, CT.

HOW TO BREAK demo video

HOW TO BREAK is a hip-hop play about being ill. / book: Aaron Jafferis / lyrics: Aaron Jafferis & Rebecca Hart /music: Rebecca Hart & Yako 440 / director: Christopher V. Edwards / choreography: Kwikstep & Rokafella /Performers: Yako 440, Jason Facey, Rebecca Hart, Aaron Jafferis, Amber Reauchean Williams / Stage Manager: Kristin Loughry / Video: Laki Vazakas, 2013 / Produced by Collective Consciousness Theatre in association with Hi-ARTS at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital’s Arts for Healing Festival at ACES Educational Center for the Arts.

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Written by Byron Au Yong and Aaron Jafferis, STUCK ELEVATOR is based on the true story of a Chinese restaurant deliveryman who was trapped in a Bronx elevator for 81 hours. As an undocumented immigrant, he knows that sounding the alarm will open the doors to freedom, but calling for help also means calling for attention—with dire consequences.

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