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Holding It Down Holding It Down Holding It Down

Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts

Holding it Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project

Apr 22, 2016
8:00 PM

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Note: Broad Street will close on Fri., April 22 at 7 p.m. from Chestnut to South St,, including all cross streets, for the PIFA Street Fair on April 23. We encourage you to use public transportation to get to our campus. If you drive, please allow extra time to find parking. All roads will reopen on April 24 at 3 a.m. Thank you.

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Holding It Down: The Veterans' Dreams Project is the latest astonishing multi-disciplinary project to emerge from the longtime collaboration of Grammy-nominated pianist-composer (and MacArthur Fellow) Vijay Iyer and poet-performer-librettist-emcee Mike Ladd. Three years in the making, the new work focuses on veterans of color from the last decade's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Holding It Down is a thought-provoking combination of music, poetry, song, video monologues, and visuals, created from the actual dreams of young veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. 

This collection of veterans' dream poems, alternately brutal, elegiac, and joyous, are set to wide-ranging original music created and performed by Iyer and his electroacoustic ensemble, with video designed and edited by Patricia McGregor (Hurt Village at Signature Theater Company, Blood Dazzler at Harlem Stage), forming an original, multidimensional evening-length work. 

In Holding It Down, Iyer and Ladd explore the experiences of American veterans of color from these post-9/11 wars through the medium of dreams. For the project, which was commissioned and premiered at Harlem Stage in New York City, Ladd and McGregor interviewed scores of veterans — about both their aspirations and the visions they experience while sleeping. Ladd's lyrical adaptations of these accounts are juxtaposed with Iyer's lush, potent music. Veterans Maurice Decaul, a writer who served with the Marines in Iraq, and Lynn Hill, who served in the Air Force and was tasked with piloting drones over Afghanistan from a base in Las Vegas, add to the performance original, brave, from-the-gut, poetic contributions, which serve as the soul of this project. 

This work continues in the groundbreaking, politically-searing fashion of previous works by Iyer and Ladd, like the award-winning "In What Language?,' and the acclaimed 'Still Life with Commentator' (2007), an oratorio about 24-hour news culture). Coupled with these earlier creations, Holding It Downrounds out an eye-opening trilogy, giving audiences an in-depth look at American life over a decade of war. 

This will be the Philadelphia Premiere of Holding It Down.

Holding It Down: The Veterans' Dreams Project has been generously supported by
The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Holding It Down: The Veterans' Dreams Project has been generously supported by Johnson & Johnson.


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Perelman Theater

Inside the Kimmel Center

300 S Broad St

Philadelphia, PA 19102


Video 2



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