D-Nick The Microphone Misfit (Dominique Stockman)
D-Nick was a teaching artist at Free Street from 2005-2012. He taught in Chicago Public Schools with the Act/Write partnership with Columbia College's Fiction Writing Department. He directed the teen theater ensemble at Little Village High School D'Nick and Araceli Arroyo held Free Street together as teaching artists for the year after the rest of the artistic staff experienced an exodus. You can see what he's been up to lately at on his YouTube channel. (Hint. He recently performed in China!) and catch one of his current local gigs by checking his Facebook page.
Being an African American descendant of slaves in the USA, you walk a lot of lines, and bare a completely different set of burdens than other United States citizens or immigrants in the USA. One those in the entertainment field is the line between “Coon” and authenticity. Before I started to work at Free Street I always tried to keep my Hip-Hop side separate from my Theater side.
Hip-Hop has always been a part of my life, I B-Boy (breakdance), I emcee (rap), and I deejay. I’m use to people looking down on Black men who do Hip-Hop because their only point of reference is the mainstream media image. I made a career decision to keep them separate so I would be respected as a playwright and director. It was not until my 2nd year at Free Street that a student told Ron, our Artistic Director at the time, “D-Nick acts more like a rapper than a Theater director.” Ron said “he is a rapper I have his album right here.” Ron who found out I was a Hip-Hop Emcee by default somehow asked me, “Do the students not know you rap?” I said “no,” and explained why they don’t know. Ron told me, that by withholding that I’m not being an open artist, and if I’m not open how can I expect the kids to be.
I let it go and for the first time merged my two passions and the things that happened for me in the following years were nothing short of amazing. I became a stronger emcee, teaching artist, and director. Traveling the world and doing work I never dreamed of. To be a great teacher you got to be a great student. As a student I embraced my artistic openness. That happened during my stint at Free Street and I’m forever thankful to Ron, Anita and Bryn.
- D-Nick the Microphone Misfit
(written December 2018)