Truth in Tunes, Freestyle Love Supreme
People often question the legitimacy of themes, messages, and the diegetic elements of a scene when it comes to improv. The idea that there was no singular author in a room constantly rewriting and editing their magnum opus seems to turn audiences away from appreciating improv as they would on any other form of Drama. The truth becomes prevalent when you experience improv and realize that elements of storytelling are just as rich, if not more so than its more planned counterpart, the script. The truth arises from the unadulterated connection the performers have with the audience - and through this experience, produce a one-of-a-kind style of performance art, catered to the present moment.
Most improv scenes are done with actors sourcing prompts from the audience and creating a scene based on the audience’s suggestions. Now, take this concept, and make it an off-the-top musical journey, and you have: Freestyle Love Supreme.
Freestyle Love Supreme is an improvisational hip hop group started by Lin Manuel Miranda and Anthony Veneziale. The idea was to create a show for artists and musicians to perform rap and hip hop completely improvised. The group is composed of members who rap, musicians and singers, and Shockwave, the resident beatboxer of FLS. The show was initially put together in 2003, and performed their fully produced show, directed by Thomas Kail, at the Ars Nova festival in 2004. They rotate performers so the group isn't consistent in it’s members. Their most notable rappers would be: their founders; Lin Manuel Miranda, and Anthony “Two-Touch” Veneziale; Utkarsh Ambudkar, Chis Jackson, Kailla Mulludy, Daveed Diggs, and Wayne Brady. Accompanied by musicians such as: Arthur Lewis and Bill Sherman.
Together, this brilliant band of excellent entertainers protected duce astonishingly witty, and honest music. The spontaneity of improv, is inspired by interaction with the audience, and so the message of the music perfectly relates to the vibe of the room. I stress the importance of truth in their art, as do they with “True!” being a popular catchphrase said by the group. The words said, the notes played, and the beats boxed all come from the heart, directly to the microphone. The transparency allows for the themes and punchlines of the act to resonate strongly with those who listen.
In recent years they have premiered a television show featuring 15 years of footage captured over the group’s many years of performing. Last year they opened up at the Booth Theatre for a run on Broadway, which was cancelled due to COVID. However, the show has reopened and tickets are back up, The Freestyle Love Supreme Broadway show is performing at the Booth Theatre, in New York City, until January 2022.