In the 2001 film that he wrote, directed and starred in, Brooklyn hip-hop artist Danny Hoch plays a series of characters inhabiting jails and hospitals in New York.
"Most of the time, when we think of the institution of a hospital or the institution of a jail, we're not necessarily thinking of the people in those institutions," said Hoch in a telephone interview. But in the distinctive lives and personalities portrayed in "Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop" is "where we find humanity," he said. For his fictional characters, Hoch used "composites of many real people," some of whom he met in conflict-resolution workshops that he led in jails, "plus facets of myself," he said in an e-mail.
One Hoch monologue features hospital patient Gabriel, bidding good-bye to his speech therapist. Gabriel, whose mother used cocaine while pregnant, contorts his mouth while talking and pauses between phrases. Addressing the hospital staff, Gabriel praises his therapist for all that she has done for him. "And she lets me rap as part of my session -- even all the dirty words," says Gabriel.
In another hospital scene, Hoch plays Victor, who has needed crutches since he was shot by police. Victor hovers over an attractive woman, who is teary over her ill grandmother. Victor is merely "trying to get a date," said Hoch.
Provisions Library (at 1611 Connecticut Ave. NW), will offer a free viewing of "Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop" tomorrow, Aug. 3, at 7 p.m. The nonprofit library, open to the public, collects books, periodicals and art about social change. For more information, call 202-299-0460 or see www.provisionslibrary.org. For more about Hoch, see www.dannyhoch.com.
-- Samantha Sordyl