Text in this video includes excerpts from a speech by Cornel West

“Living in the aftermath of 9/11, I feel an urgent and renewed engagement with what it means to be an American. But that engagement is a troubling one because of a longstanding estrangement between American civic ideals and American civic practice. This project is my response to this reality. I take it as a civic responsibility to think about these things out loud, in the ritualized forum of theater and public dialogue.”
Sekou Sundiata

Poet/theater artist and musician Sekou Sundiata (blessing the boats,Udu) along with a dozen musicians, singers, and spoken-word artists returns to the Walker to develop his latest work, a candid contemplation of Americas national identity and its guiding mythologies. Uniting art and civic dialogue through song cycles, poems, monologues, and moving images, the 51st (dream) state ponders Americas definition of itself in an era of unprecedented global power and asks what it means to be both a citizen and an individual in our complex society. It is an adventure, a quest to find a vision of what it means to be both a citizen and an individual in a deeply complex, hyperkinetic society. 51st (dream) State features a cycle of songs accompanied by a live band, poems and monologues, supported by still and moving projected images.

from Sekou Sundiata’s 51st (dream) state
Conceived and written by Sekou Sundiata
Direction: Christopher McElroen
Original Sound Score: Graham Haynes
Musical Direction: Graham Haynes, Eddie Allen
Vocal Arrangements: Richard Harper
Lighting Design: Rick Murray
Choreography: David Thomson
Projections: Sage Marie Carter
Set Design: Troy Hourie
Sound Design: Lucas Indelicato
Singers: LaTanya Hall, Ronnell Bey, Samita Sinha, and Bora Yoon
Musicians: Graham Haynes, Bora Yoon, Adam Klipple, Bill White, Calvin Jones, Chris Eddleton, and Eddie Allen

Text excerpts written and spoken by Cornel West from a speech at Pasadena City College, and Jacob Needleman from The American Soul

Additional songs by Ani diFranco

Producer: MultiArts Projects & Productions/MAPP
Ann Rosenthal and Cathy Zimmerman, Co-Directors and Producers
Jordana Phokompe, Associate Producer

“The 51st dream state is an entertaining and thought-provoking interrogation of contemporary America.” – The Age (Australia)

The 51st (Dream) State is an introspective look into America’s national identity and its guiding mythologies … An extraordinary, moving and entertaining show that i would recommend for everyone to see.” – Pretend Paper (Australia)

New York Times Article