do it yourself: internet radio program “live from main street”, by ‘digital dramatist’ james gibbs

August 31, 2011

Playwright/filmmaker James Gibbs is a Bronx native who has the demeanor of someone who’s hung around boxing rings, eternally perplexed by our pop culture, and the solemnity of a hole-in-the wall bar. And he has the scowl to prove it. A prolific dramatist, Gibbs has primarily written for the stage, but over the past couple of years has grown frustrated with the limitations of what the theater can offer him. His Internet radio program, Live on Main Street, is a renegade artwork as a result of the DIY ethos Gibbs respects and adheres to, and it is quietly progressive (if not radical) in the sense that Gibbs has applied the “non-mainstream-corporate-view” of the black experience in North America… and the Last Angry Man in a Smug and rapidly degenerating generation. Although a work in progress, the site is now live.

Profile & Interview by Dennis Leroy Kangalee
(Full-disclosure: Dennis Leroy Kangalee was also profiled on James Gibbs’ “Live From Main Street” website)

Live from Main Street is a shard of rustic Urbana, Hip-Hop consciousness, and point& un-pretentious social commentary. It is an audio-visual rendering (imagine a radio drama created for and streamed through a website) of a script he wrote about an outspoken, “out-the-box” African American graphic artist named Monty who lets his maverick spirit take hold as he creates a rogue radio show on the web in hopes of giving voice and shedding intellectual light on black people and the maligned — everywhere. Feisty, funny, and ferocious when he wants to be, Monty is both Everyman and the marginalized Social Commentator whom nobody understands. He is overwhelmed by the lack of consciousness, stupidity, apathy, and greed of humanity. He wants to be one with people, yet detests them. Which puts him in common with his creator.

Here is what Gibbs told us:
Live from Main Street was originally written as an episode in a murder mystery anthology series titled Drama Central presents that I was planning to pitch to cable networks. The plan was to shoot Main Street as the pilot episode on digital video and present it with scripts for the upcoming episodes along with a budget for the series. But while shooting the pilot episode I ran into problems with scheduling and casting that drained my shoestring budget. Leaving me with a brilliant idea and not enough money to execute it. I had no money and no television network connections. I didn’t know what to do. So I developed it into a theatrical website, a site that would act as a movie or story itself.

The Internet is to the modern day artist what the north was to southern slaves in the 1800’s.
I say that because most artists are slaves to industry. What is put out to the public, how it’s put out, and when it is put out are dictated by corporate executives with their eyes glued to the bottom line of account statements. I have nothing against making money and I have a pretty good understanding for business, but the entertainment industry has sold whatever soul it had.

And by creating a fictitious radio program and persona, I thought it would be a great hook to get people interested as both an audience member and a participant. The good thing about it is that it has no restrictions in terms of media. I’ll be using audio, video, photography, literature, music, etc. The advantages of using a website as a canvas is that it can fit all of these different tools of expression without feeling forced or phony.
Live from Main Street is a forum for thought. I hope that it becomes a platform of relevant discussion for young people who have the ability to change the world.
It will have an interactive blog for people to post their opinions on show topics and interviews. Basically if you want to hear about pertinent issues and thought provoking discussions, come to Main Street, if you don’t, then go watch Real Housewives of Atlanta.”