15th annual Line Breaks Hip Hop Theater Festival coming April 1-2 at Overture Center

Yellow background with cutout images of people performing spoken word poetry with text mimicing spray paint reading "Line Breaks Hip Hop Festival."

The Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives is bringing the 15th annual Line Breaks Hip Hop Theater Festival to Madison on April 1-2 at the Overture Center for the Arts in a multi-day showcase bridging campus, local, and national leaders in hip-hop and urban arts.

Line Breaks brings the top new aesthetics in contemporary hip hop and interdisciplinary performance art to the UW–Madison campus and the surrounding community. It has evolved into a space for the investigation of contemporary American culture through the lens of Hip Hop performance. Line Breaks is now one of the largest Hip Hop-centered performance festivals in the Midwest and continues to be a space for the cultivation and presentation of independent and collaborative work by First Wave artist-scholars. Here, unique responses to common human experiences are explored. The narratives, myths and legends, specific to these diverse communities, are unearthed, distilled and presented in an environment that encourages discussion, and continued investigation.

Five students pose for a group photos around a bench.
Members of the 2021-2022 First Wave Touring Ensemble, from left to right: Marjan Naderi, Jackson Neal, Zack Lesmeister, Sarah Abbas, Azura Tyabji.

This year’s Line Breaks will feature dynamic performances and panels by the First Wave 14th cohort (an ensemble of our first-year scholars) hailing from all over the world (Baltimore to St. Louis to Brazil to Scotland, and beyond, including Wisconsin’s very own Madison and Milwaukee); the First Wave Touring Ensemble; the JVN Project; a selection of First Wave scholars’ independent projects; as well as our world renowned alum Danez Smith.

Join us opening night for a pre-show reception hosted in collaboration with the Wisconsin Alumni Association on Friday, April 1st. At this reception, we’ll have refreshments, music by RIAA Platinum Certified DJ Pain 1, and the Wisconsin Idea Spotlight Panel featuring First Wave’s world renowned alum Erika Dickerson-Despenza, Danez Smith, founding OMAI artistic director Prof. Chris Walker (minted this year as UW–Madison’s Director of the Division of the Arts), moderated by UW’s deputy vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, vice provost, chief diversity officer, and beloved artist Dr. LaVar J. Charleston.

The full schedule of events can be found at omai.wisc.edu/line-breaks-festival along with performance descriptions, artist bios, and previous Line Breaks works.

Register for the free Line Breaks Festival Showcase:

Register for the free Line Breaks Festival Opening Reception in the Wisconsin Studio, Overture Center from 5-7 p.m.

The 15th annual Line Breaks Hip Hop Theater Festival is brought to you in collaboration with the Overture Center for the Arts, the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement, the Division of the Arts, the Wisconsin Alumni Association, and The JVN Project.