CINDERBLOCK STORIES An experimental theater in Providence

Christopher Johnson is telling a story and he’s saying it straight.

Devoid of flourishes yet not without elegance, the acclaimed spoken word artist blankets an audience with the plain truth of his past growing up in Newark, New Jersey.

“At fifteen, I was stealing cars. At sixteen, I was selling cocaine. I loved this shit, this is what I lived for,” the forty-three-year-old exclaims, neat dreadlocks tied at the nape of his neck. He heaves a thirty-six-pound cinderblock into place. “At seventeen, I saw two of my friends get shot and killed. On that day, I made the phone call to join the Army. I thought that if I stayed in Newark, that was going to be my life — that that was going to be me.”

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