English department combines hip-hop and Chaucer

With the assistance of slapstick humor, several English students, a few professors and a hip-hop musician, the auditorium in Woodson was transformed to present “The Miller’s Tale” during Tuesday’s convocation hours. The story is the second in Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.” It speaks on relationships, love, sex, sanity and infidelity.

The show’s highlight came from Dartavious Norman, whose cross-dressing portrayal of “Alisoun” prompted bellows of laughter and consistently captivated the audience.
He sashayed in skintight jeans and a belly-baring blouse, while wearing a curly auburn wig.

Notable narration came from Jonathan Tatum, Jacoby McNeal and Monique Williams, all of whom added expression and spoke Middle English with fluidity.

The soundtrack was hip-hop music, which helped carry the show. Anthony Daniels of Urban Groovs Records created original music and worked with the students on numerous occasions prior to the show.

“The Miller’s Tale” hip-hop rendition was the result of Dr. Mica Gould’s classes, said Daniels, who said that her knowledge of literature and love of hip-hop made the presentation possible.
Although the fast paced plot proved confusing for some, feedback was favorable.

“I liked the props. They were very creative. I appreciate their hard work and effort,” said student actress Angela O’Leary of Compton, Calif.

“I commend them for being non-actors. A lot of people wouldn’t have had the courage to come up there,” said Jonte Smith of New Orleans.

“Most people got in sync with the music. We had fun,” said Tatum of Opelousas.

He said that the production mixed students of different departments and the English Club might look to do a similar show every semester if suggestions are made.

The show’s intent was to combine 14th century oral tradition with one of the strongest examples of 21st century expression, hip-hop.

Winners from the 2008-2009 poetry contest were also announced at the event. They are as follows: First place, Kristan Moore; Second place Derwin Emmanuel; third place, Jonathan Tatum.

Dr. Hugh Wilson and The Black Orpheus Writing Club funded financial awards.

Dr. Mica Gould directed the show. Dr. James Clawson was assistant director.

“I’m glad everything went well,” Tatum said.

The next English Club meeting will be Nov. 19 in Woodson Hall, room 121. Students of all majors are welcome.