Theatre for Intergenerational Audiences

By Idris Goodwin
Directed by Summer L. Williams

Hank, Julian, and Luann are talented, determined suburban teens coming of age in the 1980s. Dreaming of fame and fortune in the new Hip-Hop music scene, they must overcome cultural isolation, familial dysfunction, and ruthless rivalries to make the music that defines their lives.

October 12-14, 2023
Robert J. orchard stage
Paramount Center

October 12 and 13 student matinees are reserved for school groups
October 13 at 8 PM open to the public
October 14 at 4 PM and 8 PM are presented as part of Family Weekend

Produced by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc. (

Run Time: 90 minutes, no intermission

Content Advisory: This play includes discussions of racial prejudice and moments of physical violence.

Sensory Advisory: This production contains pulsing light effects and moving lights on the stage floor.

Special Thanks to Jamal Fairbanks for providing his song “End of Summer” to be used in this show.

View Production Media

Production Photos by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo. View full album.

Creative Team

Scenic Design

Ariana Dookhran

Costume Design

Jez Insalaco

Lighting Design

Hannah Forsberg

Sound Design

Aubrey Dube

Props Lead

Amaya Gonzalez-Mollmann


Delene Beauchamp


Blake Berggren

Dramaturg &
Education director

Amanda Boldt

Resources from the
Education Team

Check out this guide made by our Education Director and the Education Team for more information about the show, and suggested learning and engagement opportunities around the production

A note from the
Dramaturg, Amanda Boldt

The Joy of the Hip-Hop Movement 

August, 1973. The Bronx. A neighborhood party that led to the birth of Hip-Hop. After his sister, Cindy Campbell, gathered the community for a Back to School Jam, DJ Kool Herc wowed the crowd with his version of record spinning and breakbeat DJ techniques. While they didn’t know it yet, this sparked a movement that has become a huge piece of modern music and culture. Artists and household names like Tupac, Notorious BIG, Wu-Tang Clan, Queen Latifah, Drake, Nikki Minaj, Jay-Z, and so many more that have dominated the hip-hop entertainment scene for decades can all trace their origins back to these early beginnings. 

This August, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the birth of a movement; however, in How We Got On, Hip-Hop music and our cast of characters are just about 15 years old. This play is the epitome of the “coming of age” story. As Selector narrates various tracks of their lives, we watch and hear Hank, Julian, and Luann find their voices and clamor to leave their tag on this emerging culture of self-expression, political awareness, and musical creativity. 

Just as Hank, Julian, and Luann are coming of age, so is Hip-Hop. Set in Hip-Hop’s golden era, this show celebrates new technologies like the AKAI MPC drum machine to create more exciting beats, women like MC Lyte (the first female artist to release a solo hip-hop album) making their way onto the scene, and the beginnings of Gangsta Rap that spoke to political issues facing populations in urban areas. Yet, for a movement that many people may associate with inner-city grievances, what does it mean that our show is set out in the suburbs? 

By 1988, a record number of Black Americans had moved to suburban areas. The rise of the Black middle class opened doors and opportunities, yet inner-city populations experienced poverty, drug abuse, and crime at heightened rates. Hip-Hop quickly became a way to air out these frustrations or find community through shared rhythm and honest messaging. The constant comparison of “The City” vs. “The Hill” offers nuanced insights into the experiences of young people of color trying to find themselves and their creativity while navigating their own cultural identity.*  

As Selector reminds us, you “best believe Hip-Hop lived in the Hill.” No matter where you’re from, Hip-Hop acknowledges and welcomes that you have something to say. After all, sharing knowledge and social responsibility is, along with MCing, DJing, breaking, and graffiti, one of the pillars of Hip-Hop culture. Through creativity and passion, our characters find ways to share their experiences, insecurities, and convictions in their music. 

DJ Kool Herc, the Father of Hip-Hop, was once quoted saying: “To me, hip-hop says, ‘Come as you are.’ It’s about you and me, connecting one-to-one. That’s why it has universal appeal. It has given young people a way to understand their world.” So for the next hour or so, you are invited to come as you are and to enjoy the connection. Experience the joy of early Hip-Hop and the special sensation of self-discovery. Let loose and nod along to the music with us as we try to answer the question that was asked in 1988 and that our director Summer continues to ask today: “What does it mean to truly come together and share the joy of a collective beat?” 

*Some resources if you’d like to learn more: “A Brief History of African American Suburbanization” from, “What Was Life Like For Black Americans in The 80s?” Video from Intellectual Media.

Meet the

Selector — SKY FORTES
Julian’s Dad / Ensemble — CRUZ PLASENCIA
Luann’s Dad / Ensemble — ELI SILER
Hank’s Dad / Ensemble — TYLER COOPER
Ensemble — RUOCHEN HU


Julian — ELI SILER
Hank, Luann’s Dad — TYLER COOPER
Luann, Selector — ARIEL COLEMAN
Julian’s Dad — SOFIA CARDONA

Meet the
Artistic and Production Staff

Assistant Director — CAROLINE DOMBOSKI
Assistant Scenic Designer — ANTON SANTIAGO
Assistant Costume Designer — NINA TUROVSKIY
Hair Consultant –– AMBER VONER
Wardrobe Supervisor — ANNA TEN EYCK
Assistant Lighting Designer — JO WILLIAMS
Production Electrician — HENRY KACIK
Production Electrician — OAK WALKER
Assistant Lead Electrician — CHIRON SPEIDEL
Assistant Sound Designer — LORENZO SOSA LOPEZ
Production Sound Engineer — LAUREN HODGKINS
Assistant Production Sound Engineer — RYAN TSE
Assistant Props Lead —ECHO LU
Assistant Technical Director — CASPER APODACA
Assistant Stage Manager — FIBY DICHTER
2nd Assistant Stage Manager — KYLAH NEE
Production Assistant — SYDNEY WILLIAMS
Associate Production Supervisor — JANIE HILLMAN
Assistant Production Supervisor — JENNA THOMAS
Company Manager — SUSAN WEINHARDT
Assistant Company Manager — NONA FERNEY
Assistant Company Manager — OLIVER WORNER
Education Assistant — JULIA WHITTEN
Run Crew

Cast Bios

JAMES BROOKS (he/him) — Julian

BFA ‘25 Musical Theatre. Emerson Stage Credits: The Spitfire Grill (Visitor u/s), Emerson College credits: Jelly’s Last Jam (Ensemble/Crowd).

MAH “BIJOU” CAMARA (she/her) — Ensemble

BFA ‘26 Theatre & Performance. Emerson Stage Debut! Film credits: EIV’s Elixir (Coven #3). Thank you to everyone who believed in my potential and talent, even when I didn’t believe in myself, I appreciate it. Instagram: getlike_jewel (

SOFIA CARDONA (she/her) — Ensemble, U/S Julian’s Dad

BFA ‘24 Theatre & Performance. Emerson Stage Debut! Film credits: Mad Women BFA (Julia), Holy Lie Raiz (Sofi), 87 Myrtle St (Aidan), and TWENTY (Tess). Sofia is also currently interning at Central Square Theater as the assistant to the Creative Director. Thank you to mi Papi y Mami, Emilia, and my friends for all your love and support! <3

ARIEL COLEMAN — Ensemble, U/S Selector, U/S Luann

BFA ‘26 Theatre & Performance. Emerson Stage credits: King Arthur’s Socks (Guinevere). Thanks to my loving family for always supporting me!

TYLER COOPER (he/him) — Hank’s Dad, Ensemble, U/S Hank, U/S Luann’s Dad

BS ‘24 Health & Social Change. Emerson Stage Debut! Thanks to my parents for pushing me to get back into theatre!

SKY FORTES — Selector

BFA ’25 Acting. Sky has performed in many different venues and theaters in Boston, acting in different shows including Memphis, Dreamgirls, Jelly’s Last Jam, and many more. How We Got On is Sky’s second show here at Emerson College and she can’t wait to experience many others to come! She would like to sincerely thank GOD, her family, and her friends for the never ending love and support she receives! “Now let’s take it back to 88’ y’all!”

RUOCHEN HU — Ensemble

BFA ‘25 Acting. Emerson Stage credits: Mary, Sweet Mary (Assistant Director). Emerson College credits: Kidding Around’s Moksha (Rodha); ChuangLab’s Secret Love For the Peach Blossom Spring (Yun Zhifan), The Orphan of Zhao (ChengYing, ChengBo), Sputnik tnick, LaiKa (Playwright & Director); and EmShakes’ Romeo & Juliet (Montague). Other credits: 300 Migratory Birds Section’s Crack (Yingying, Chuanfu) at Aranya Theatre Festival.

DEVESH MIRPURI — Ensemble, U/S Hank’s Dad

BFA ‘25 Theatre & Performance & BS ‘25 Marketing Communications. Emerson Stage Debut! Thanks to my family and friends for all their support! @deveshmirpuri

SEAN MYERS (he/him) — Hank

BFA ‘24 Theatre Education & Performance. Emerson Stage credits: RAGE (Ballzindorf). Emerson College credits: Mercutio Troupe’s When Her Art Is No Longer Her Own (Deviser/Writer), and A Trial of Errors (Eddison). Upcoming: Kidding Around’s Barry and The Bear (Playwright and Director). He is also a member of long-form improv troupe This is Pathetic. Thank you to mom and dad for your love, care, and support. I love y’all bunches.

CRUZ PLASENCIA — Julian’s Dad, Ensemble

BFA ’26 Theatre & Performance.


BFA ‘24 Theatre Education & Performance. Emerson Stage Debut! Emerson College credits: Teach In On Race 2023 (Keynote Performer), Juliana Perez’s Killing Calories (Acting Coach), and Peng Black Girls (Director). Thanks to my family and friends who came to support me, and those who are supporting me from afar!

ELI SILER (he/him) — Luann’s Dad, Ensemble, U/S Julian

BFA ‘26 Musical Theatre. Emerson Stage Debut! Emerson College credits: Kidding Around’s Seussical TYA (Yertle the Turtle); MTS’s Heathers (Big Bud Dean/Ram’s Dad); and MTAG’s The Wild Party (Mr. Black). Thanks to the cast and crew for their dedication and support!

Creative Team Bios

SUMMER L. WILLIAMS (she/her) — Director
Summer L. Williams is an award-winning director and Co-Founder/Associate Artistic Director of Company One Theatre in Boston. Her most recent directing credits include Boy Who Kissed The Sky by Idris Goodwin at Company One Theatre in Boston, Jump by Charly Evon Simpson at Everyman Theatre in Baltimore, MD,  can i touch it? A National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere by Francisca Da Silvera at Company One Theatre,  sandblasted by Charly Evon Simpson with Vineyard Theatre and WP Theater, Off-Broadway. In Boston with Company One, she has directed more than 25 productions, including the world-premieres of Downtown Crossing and Leftovers; Wolf Play; Miss You LIke Hell (with OBERON at American Repertory Theatre); Wig Out! (with OBERON at A.R.T.); Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again; and An Octoroon and Colossal (2016 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director for both productions).

ARIANA DOOKHRAN (she/any) — Scenic Designer
BFA ‘24 Theatre Design and Technology. Emerson Stage credits: Everybody (2nd Assistant Scenic Designer), Next to Normal (Assistant Scenic Designer), The Wolves (Scenic Designer), Into the Woods (2nd Assistant Costume Designer), Old Jake’s Skirts (Assistant Costume Designer), and Paris (Costume Designer). Emerson College credits: emShake’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream! (Scenic Designer); and EVVY42 (Scenic Designer). Big thanks to my mentor and the scene shop for supporting my work!

JEZ INSALACO (she/her) — Costume Designer
Jez Insalaco is a proud member of United Scenic Artists 829 in the Costume Design category & Local 481 Studio Mechanics in the costume craft. Costume Design credits include: The Light at Lyric Stage Company, This is Treatment at Northeastern University, The Samuel Slater Experience in Webster, MA produced by Boston Productions Inc, I Loved, I Lost, I Ate Spaghetti at Greater Boston Stage Company, and Anne Frank at Boston Children’s Theatre. Film & Television credits include Good Burger 2 (Set Costumer), Instigators (Boston Unit BG Set Costumer), Invitation to a Bonfire (BG Set Costumer), Spirited (BG Set Costumer), Don’t Look Up (Costume Fitter). She is a Boston-based Japanese-American artist who is passionate about creating with color and designing work that is for & by people of color. She hopes to create images through her design that are diverse and expansive and to empower those who see themselves in her work.

HANNAH FORSBERG (she/they) — Lighting Designer
BFA ’24 Theatre Design & Technology. Emerson Stage credits: This Golden Day (Sound Board Operator), Spring Awakening (Assistant Lead Electrician), The Late Wedding (Assistant Lighting Designer), Next to Normal (Lead Electrician), Old Jake’s Skirts (Lead Electrician), and Cabaret (Co-Lighting Designer). Thanks to my family, friends, and advisors for their ongoing support.

AUBREY DUBE — Sound Designer
The Huntington: Clyde’s, The Bluest Eye, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. Regional: Paradise Blue, The Thin Place (Gloucester Stage Company); Trayf, Good (New Rep); Queens, Torch Song (Moonbox Productions); Vinegar Tom, Monster, Serious Money, Pentecost (PTP/NYC), Winter People (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre); Fences (Umbrella Theatre); Downtown Crossing, Vietgone (Company One);A Taste of Honey (Boston Center for American Performance). University: CymbelinePilgrims of the Night (Suffolk University); Orlando (Brandeis University); Antipodes, Love and Information, As You Like It, Sensitive Guys (Northeastern University); Big Love, The Imaginary Invalid, In The Next Room, Man of La Mancha (Middlebury College); Delirium, Daddy Issues, The Hothouse (Boston University). Education: MFA in Sound Design (Boston University). @footballpowerhour

AMAYA GONZALEZ-MOLLMANN (she/they) — Props Lead
BFA ’25 Theatre Design & Technology. Emerson Stage credits: Cabaret (Assistant Costume Designer), The Secret In The Wings (Assistant Props Lead), and The Wolves (Assistant Costume Designer). Other credits: MTS’ Heathers (Costume Designer). Thanks to my incredible parents, amazing friends and coworkers, and lovely boyfriend.

DELENE BEAUCHAMP (he/him) — Stage Manager
BFA ’24 Stage & Production Management. Emerson Stage credits: Cabaret (Associate Production Supervisor), Mary, Sweet Mary (First Assistant Stage Manager), The Wolves (Associate Production Supervisor), Three Romances (Assistant Production Supervisor), Next To Normal (Second Assistant Stage Manager), Baltimore (Assistant Production Supervisor), Going to California (Second Assistant Stage Manager). Emerson College theatre credits: emShakes’ Antigone (Producer). Thanks to friends, family, and my partner Aaron.

BLAKE BERGGREN (he/him) — Production Supervisor
BFA ’24 Stage & Production Management. Emerson Stage credits: Cabaret (Assistant Stage Manager), The Secret in the Wings (Production Supervisor), The Spitfire Grill (Company Manager), The Wolves (Company Manager), RAGE (Assistant Stage Manager), This Girl… (Associate Production Supervisor & Assistant Company Manager), The Late Wedding (Assistant Company Manager), Everybody (Assistant Production Supervisor), Men on Boats (Production Assistant). Emerson College credits: EVVY42, EVVY43 (Production Manager), Full Fathom’s Mr. Burns… (Assistant Stage Manager). Regional credits: Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker (Stage Management Intern), Contemporary American Theatre Festival 2023 (Production Management Intern) and CATF 2022 Sheepdog (Production Assistant).

AMANDA BOLDT (she/her) — Dramaturg & Education Director
MFA ‘24 Theatre Education & Applied Theatre. Emerson Stage Debut! Amanda holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Ball State University. Other work/experience around Boston includes: Director of First Year Arts Initiatives Grad Assistantship at Harvard, Play Reading Book Club Teaching Artist (ArtsEmerson), NEMPAC Teaching Artist. Thanks to Trey for the endless support.

Meet the
Emerson Stage Staff


Artistic Director — Annie G. Levy
General Manager — David Colfer
Assistant General Manager — Joshua M. Feder
Production Manager — Timothey Sullivan
Technical Director — Kristin Knutson
Head Carpenter
— Connor Thompson
Scenic Carpenter –– Raven Whyles
Scenic Painter
— Joe Keener
Scenic Painter –– Matt Baynes
Props Director
— Ryan Bates
Assistant Properties Manager
— Lauren Corcuera
Costume Shop Supervisor
— Richelle Devereaux-Murray
Assistant Costume Shop Supervisor
— Becky Pieroth
— Laurie Bramhall
Electrics Advisor — Nicole Cerra
Resident Sound Designer
— Elizabeth Cahill


Stage and Production Management — Debra A. Acquavella
Scenic Design — Ryan Bates
Lighting Design — Scott Pinkney
Fight & Intimacy — Ted Hewlett
Dramaturgy — ​Marissa Friedman
Education & Engagement — ​Josh Streeter
Vocal Coach — ​Indira Pensado

Student Staff

Emerson Stage Office Assistants — Jake Tolentino, Kayla Copping, Alayna Domboski, Samantha Duggan, Karli Fisher, Carly Mentis
Production Management Assistants — Blake Berggren, Esther Chilson
Videographers — Xiao Chen, Ethan West
Scenic Technicians — Casper Apodaca, Cora Glazer, Davis Kranchalk, Bee LaClair, Oscar McQuilkin, Harley Novy, Mercedes Suarez, Elise Tuckwood
Scenic Artists/Painters
— Rayan Afif, Nel Blinman, Paige Boyon, Elizabeth Fuire, Sophia Inez Bulbulia, Katherine Kendrick, Elizabeth Nunnery, Leo Servetar, David Staats, Charlize Tabrizi
Paint Shop Assistant
— Maggie Stewart
Prop Shop Assistant
— Delene Beauchamp, Amaya Gonzalez-Mollmann, Oliver Hawke, Mariel Richardson, Ava Scanlon, Mercy Suarez
Stitchers — Izzy Bacallao, David Estabrooks, Madeline Henry, Amanda Jacobson, Lorence Jones-Perpich, Heidi Keithahn, Alexa Peterson-Ismail, David Schell, Ava-Sofia Settoon, Anna Ten Eyck, Nina Turovsky
Laundry Assistants — Angelina Parillo
Stock Attendants — Sierra Bivins, Isabella Fortebuono, Ashleigh Jones, Lucile Lyon
Crafts — Wei Zhao
Light Lab Inventory Assistant — Eli Goldberg