Friday, October 7, 2022
By Sentinel News Service
Published March 21, 2019




Greenway Arts Alliance (Whitney Weston and Pierson Blaetz, CoFounders and Co-Artistic Directors), in association with Da Poetry Lounge, presents the 3rd ANNUAL LA
GET DOWN FESTIVAL, celebrating hip-hop and spoken word. The festival, which takes place during
National Poetry Month, takes place from April 5 – 27, 2019. Events will be held at the Greenway Court
Theatre (544 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles). Da Poetry Lounge Co-Founder Shihan Van Clief serves as
Festival Artistic Director.

The 3rd ANNUAL LA GET DOWN FESTIVAL will play host to the 11th Anniversary of InkSlam L.A.’s
National Premiere Poetry Festival with awards sponsored by Greenway Arts. The festival also features:
Atlanta based Poetry vs. Hip-Hop; invitational team and indie slams from all over the country from
youths to adults; showcases; workshops; and other events.

“Greenway has been a gathering place for who’s who in the spoken word poetry movement. The Get
Down Festival is a curated window into this revolutionary art form. We are thrilled to be celebrating
National Poetry Month in April with our Festival presentation, so If you are a playwright, screenwriter,
actor or anyone interested in being inspired by original expression, come hang out with the poets,” said
Greenway Arts Alliance Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director, Pierson Blaetz.

“Spoken word expands all ages and cultures, we’re excited to have such a diverse schedule of talent
leading the workshops this year, they embody the true spirit of Greenway’s commitment to arts and
education,” added Greenway Arts Alliance Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director, Whitney Weston.
“The LA Get Down Festival has importance beyond the City of Los Angeles. One of the main reasons is
the lack of any National competition. With the National Poetry Slam’s governing board dissolving at the
end of 2018, the ‘Nationally’ sanctioned slam event is defunct. The LA Get Down allows teams from all
over the country to compete against each other, during our InkSlam competition,” said LA Get Down
Festival Director, Shihan Van Clief.

Van Clief continues, “The hope this year with the festival is to broaden our range of poetic
programming, giving opportunities for poetry to be presented in a way that expands on what and how
poetry can be consumed by an audience. We have themed nightly events, such as Poetry vs Hip-Hop, we
also have Heartstorms, which is poetry packaged as an ensemble piece based around one poet’s work.
We also have the team competition in which eight teams from around the country compete against
each other for cash prizes.”

“Poetry is very much a niche art form, but with the Get Down we have the ability to show folks that the
best way to find an appreciation for it is to experience it in a different capacity than what they’ve been
used to. And hopefully, that’s what they get from this year’s festival,” he concludes.



Weekend 1
Poetry vs. Hip-Hop LA 2!!
Presented by Poetry vs. Hip-Hop, LLC & The LA Get Down Festival
Headlining Viral Hip-Hop Sensation G Yamazawa, Live Music by Kevin Sandbloom
Plus featured Poet Christopher Michael from ATX!
Then a friendly “battle” of poet vs mc in a 1:1 duo of wits and stage presence
and the audience chooses the winner of each round. Someone goes home with cash
and Poetry vs. Hip-Hop swag and prizes.
Doors open at 8:30 pm
$15 online | $20 at the door

Write Better with Donny Jackson
Begins at 12:00 pm
$10 online
Your Voice is an Instrument – Writing Workshop
Facilitated by Alyesha Wise and Matthew “Cuban” Hernandez
Begins at 2:00 pm
$10 online
Poems are Gay!
Hosted by Edwin Bodney
A Night of LGBTQIA+ performances
Begins at 8:00 pm
$10 online – General Admission

Weekend 2
Salome: Ten Poems About One Thing
By Donny Jackson
Directed by Jasmine Williams
Da Poetry Lounge and Get Down Festival veterans return to the Greenway Court
Theatre stage with a new collaboration. Directed by 36th St. Blues’ Jasmine Williams,
and written by One Man Shown’s Donny Jackson, Salome: Ten Poems About One Thing is
the theatrical expansion of the poetic declarations of 5 women, as they plumb the
beauty and terror and triumph of venerating selfhood in a world built to deny them of it.
From pole dancer to new mother to inmate to lover, the women of Salome… endeavor
to represent the path to glory out loud.
Begins at 8:00 pm
$10 online – General Admission

New Voices: The California Repertory Company Production of A Live Mixtape
By Tahirih Moeller
Directed by Bruce A. Lemon Jr.
In 2016 Moeller received 2nd place from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s HipHop Theater Creator Award for her play A Live Mixtape, which she further developed in a 2018
residency at California Repertory Company, California State University, Long Beach.
The rhythms of Los Angeles County come alive in Tahirih Moeller’s A Live Mixtape. A high school girl uses
the geometry of desire to calculate the distance between love and heartbreak. A college kid-fights for his
identity in an epic battle between art and commerce. A homeless man raps about the end to the sounds
of the streets, in hopes of being heard. And all the while the neighborhood news network keeps us up on
the latest. With a new perspective on every track, this exploration of love, friendship, and the American
Dream brings us closer to the neighbors we thought we knew.
A Live Mixtape is directed by Watts Village Artistic Director, Bruce A. Lemon Jr. He is an actor, director and
radio host who works to reimagine his community through his work. A storyteller born and raised in Watts,
California, Lemon has worked with numerous theatre companies in Los Angeles including LA Opera, Son
of Semele, Company of Angels, Illyrian players and many more.
Begins at 8:00 pm
$10 online – General Admission
Weekend 3

Heartstorms: And the Hood Criatura in Transit
With Féi Hernandez
Directed and created by Arianna Lady Basco
Produced by Arianna Lady Basco and Evangeline Monroy of @palmsupacademy
Their expedition between countries, body and gender.
Heartstorms: a show. about an open mic, the people who come, the stories they share.
Heartstorms is Lady B’s love letter to the open mic. A play welcoming both the novice and the veteran
to shine a bright light on these sacred spaces.
Lady B has developed two new renditions of Heartstorms including And the Hood Criatura in Transit
with Féi Hernandez
Begins at 8:00 pm
$10 online – General Admission

Write Better with Donny Jackson
Begins at 12:00 pm
$10 online
Your Voice is an Instrument – Writing Workshop
Facilitated by Alyesha Wise and Matthew “Cuban” Hernandez
Begins at 2:00 pm
$10 online
Heartstorms: The Boi with Blue Nails
With Figgy Baby
Directed and created by Arianna Lady Basco
Produced by Arianna Lady Basco and Evangeline Monroy of @palmsupacademy
Exploring toxic masculinity and his part in that as a queer artist and community leader.
The Boi with Blue Nails is a new rendition of Lady B’s Heartstorms.
Begins at 8:00 pm
$10 online – General Admission

Weekend 4
inkSlam Invitational Team Semi-Finals
The return of the national legendary team competition for bragging rights and a $3000 prize pool.
Begins at 8:00 pm
$10 online – General Admission

How to Build a Feature/Set
With Yesika Salgado
Begins at 8:00 pm
$10 online – General Admission
inkSlam Invitational Team Finals
Hosted by Shihan Van Clief
Begins at 8:00 pm
$20 online – General Admission
NOTE: The above performances are subject to change.
The 3rd ANNUAL LA GET DOWN FESTIVAL is presented with the support of the City of West Hollywood’s
WeHo Arts program. For more information, please visit or follow via social
media @WeHoArts. Additional support is provided by the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs;
and by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.
The 3rd ANNUAL LA GET DOWN FESTIVAL will take place from April 5 – 27, 2019. All workshops and
performances will be held at Greenway Court Theatre, 544 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles. Free parking
is available next door at the Fairfax High School parking lot. The full festival schedule, and tickets and
passes are available online at or by phone 323-673-0544.
Single ticket prices range from $10 – $20. Full festival passes are also available for $75. Patrons 25 or
younger can select five events for $25.

Shihan Van Clief – Along with being the first and only poet to have a poem named ‘download of the
week’ on iTunes; this National Poetry Slam Champion and 4X National Poetry Slam Finalist has been
featured on a variety of media outlets including 7 appearances on 6 seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry, NBC,
Oxygen Network, Current TV, Nike Battlegrounds, Reebok, Adidas, NBA, CNN, ESPN, Complex and
Billboard Magazine, several national commercial spots, 5 National Tours including the Tony Award
Winning Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry Jam International Tour and 2 Spoken Word
documentaries, SP!T and the sequel to 1997’s cult doc Slam Nation, Slam Planet. Shihan was also the 1st
‘Poet’ to sign an exclusive Sponsorship deal with Sports Giant, adidas and he is the current voice for The
Sprite Street Mix, a radio program broadcasted in over 14 countries in Africa. His abilities to transcend
cultural and generational boundaries have made Shihan a much sought-after talent.

Arianna Lady Basco was recently recognized by the City of Los Angeles for her and her brother’s
contribution to the arts, they were named The First Filipino Entertainment Family. Author of “Palms
Up”, she also serves on the board for, and is the host of the downtown staple Speakeasy in
The Last Bookstore. She is the co-writer/ producer of Work In Progress and was formerly of the band
Swahili Blonde. She has lent her voice and time to various charities and organizations throughout the
years reaching as far as The Philippines for the GMA series The Balikbayan Project w/ The Bascos hosted
by Giselle Tongi. More information at

Alyesha Wise – The author of Carnival (NOT A CULT Media), Alyesha Wise is a poet, teaching artist &
TEDx speaker from Camden, N.J. Alyesha currently resides in Los Angeles, and is the co-founder of
S.L.A.M. (Spoken Literature Art Movement) – an organization providing poetry education and extensive
programming for poets. Alyesha was the Los Angeles (Get Lit) Youth Slam Team co-coach from 2014-
2017 and is currently the Hollywood (Da Poetry Lounge) Slam Team head coach – The team recently
made it to final stage in the 2017 National Poetry Slam. A 2014 Hollywood grand slam champion, she is
also a 4-time member of the Hollywood Slam Team & a 2-time Women of the World Poetry Slam finalist.
Alyesha has been featured on different platforms and publications such as Huffington Post, Bustle,
Afropunk, WHYY, POPSUGAR, Buzzfeed and more. Some relatively recent highlights include – an
upcoming appearance on The Assembly on Freespeech TV, an artistic collaboration with Codeblack Films
and a feature in the Google Interstellar Project, in conjunction with the hit film Interstellar. Co-founder
of Essence Magazine, Russell Goings, wrote to Alyesha, “In all, you are awesome.”

Matthew ‘Cuban’ Hernandez is a poet, speaker, and performance coach from Jacksonville, Florida. He
has toured as far as Abu Dhabi and nearly every major city in the United States and Europe, performing,
teaching and coaching poetry. A teaching artist for nearly ten years, Matthew has spent the last four
years working in youth detention centers across Los Angeles County. He has opened for artists such as
Wu-Tang and has performed for platforms such as BuzzFeed and NPR. Matthew is also a three-time
Southern Fried poetry slam champion and an award-winning poetry coach. Cuban’s favorite activity is
making people feel great; sometimes he does this through poetry.

GREENWAY ARTS ALLIANCE (GAA) – Since its 1997 inception, the Greenway Arts Alliance has united
communities through the arts, education and social enterprise. Through Greenway Court Theatre’s
professional theatre productions, Greenway Institute for the Arts’ education programs and the Melrose
Trading Post’s weekly art-based open market, Greenway Arts Alliance builds a vibrant artistic
community in the heart of Los Angeles. GAA has modeled an innovative partnership with the Fairfax
High School campus to leverage community resources to connect the profession artistic and public
education communities around a commitment to learning and creation in the arts. Greenway Arts
Alliance was Co-Founded by artists-activists Whitney Weston and Pierson Blaetz, both of whom serve as
Co-Artistic Directors for the organization.

GREENWAY COURT THEATRE – Greenway Court was initially built by Fairfax High School students in
1939 as a class project and used as a Social Hall by both students and faculty. It sat virtually unused for
many years until it was finally renovated into a professional 99-seat theatre by Greenway Arts Alliance in
2000, to benefit both the school and the surrounding community.
Greenway Court Theatre has a rich history of presenting and producing diverse bodies of work.
Greenway has opened its door to many main-stage productions, weekly open mic poetry, festivals and
world premieres that have moved to larger venues and toured across the country.

Tiffany Moon serves as Greenway Court Theatre’s Producing Director.
GREENWAY INSTITUTE FOR THE ARTS – An arts education program in theatre, dance and film for
students at the Fairfax High School, a Title 1 high school in the Los Angeles Unified School district.
Greenway Institute for the Arts promotes arts education though both in-class and after-school programs
in theatre, dance film. Through the generosity of our funders, classes and workshops are provided free
of charge to Fairfax High School students. Presented with opportunities to engage with professional
artists, young people are able to discover their individual voices and passions that can lead to careers in
the arts.

MELROSE TRADING POST – A pioneering arts-based marketplace held every Sunday on the Fairfax High
School campus. Every Sunday, the Melrose Trading Post offers a constantly evolving experience, with a
curated selection of handcrafted artisan goods, eclectic art and craft, vintage fashion, antique furniture
and one-of-a-kind treasures.

Through admission and vendor fees, the Melrose Trading Post has grown to become the most successful
ongoing social enterprise program in the history of Los Angeles Unified School District, awarding grants
to Fairfax High School organizations for sports equipment, beautification projects, teacher programs,
theatre productions, and more – totaling well over seven million dollars since the Melrose Trading Post’s
humble beginnings in 1997. Through Greenway Arts Alliance, the Melrose Trading Post provides formal
job and life skills training to large numbers of paid and volunteer students from Fairfax High School – the
first real-world job experience for many. The market also serves as an incubator to promote small
community businesses and budding entrepreneurs, many of them professional artists, by providing
affordable retail opportunities in a prime, high-traffic location.

Additionally, the popular weekly market has always featured local musicians. In 2014, the market
expanded to include even more opportunities for local artists through an outdoor, year-long series of
music, dance, theater and spoken word events via the MTP Main Stage.

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