JACK & is a comedy of errors structured on social codes and trainings, from prison reentry programs to African American debutante balls. Conceived and directed by Kaneza Schaal, a veteran Elevator Repair Service and The Wooster Group performer, the performance interweaves such diverse influences as the aspirational class stories found in 1950s sitcoms, real and imagined entering-society ceremonies, and tigers in Harlem to build a portrait of a dream interrupted and resumed. In the performance, “Jack” returns home from working the night shift at an industrial bakery to make a cake for his wife, “Jill.” He ends up whirling through a dance that is part dream, part ritual of reentry into his own internal life. Exploring markers of transition and transformation, and the liminal ritual spaces that bridge worlds, JACK & considers the measureless damages of being in prison—not the amount of time one has served but the amount of one’s dreaming that is given to the state.
Starring Cornell Alston, a long-time member of Rehabilitation Through the Arts, JACK & features a set designed by artist Christopher Myers, which transforms from comedy club to kitchen to ballroom stage. Live music by musician and composer Rucyl Mills animates and contours the three-act story.
RUNNING TIME: 75 minutes
NOTE: Haze and fog are used during this performance.
About the Artists:
Kaneza Schaal is a New York City–based theater artist. Her recent work GO FORTH premiered at Performance Space 122, then showed at the Genocide Memorial Amphitheater in Kigali, Rwanda, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s River-to-River Festival, Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, Cairo International Contemporary Theater Festival in Egypt, and Wesleyan University. Schaal received a 2017 MAP Fund award, a 2016 Creative Capital Award, and is the current Aetna New Voices Fellow at Hartford Stage. JACK & was co-commissioned by Walker Arts Center, REDCAT, On The Boards, PICA and Center for Contemporary Art Cincinnati with support from the National Performance Network and NEFA National Theater Project. This spring her new work CARTOGRAPHY, a collaboration with artist/writer Christopher Myers, will be workshopped through New Victory Theater Lab, NYU Abu Dhabi, and will show at The Kennedy Center’s New Vision New Voices. Schaal’s work has been supported by Baryshnikov Arts Center, Performance Space 122, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Theater Communications Group, and a Princess Grace George C. Wolfe Award. Her work with The Wooster Group, Elevator Repair Service, Richard Maxwell/New York City Players, Claude Wampler, Jim Findlay, and Dean Moss has brought her to various venues globally, including Centre Pompidou, Royal Lyceum Theater Edinburgh, The Whitney Museum, MoMA, and Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Cornell Alston (JACK) is a long-time member of Rehabilitation Through the Arts, a nonprofit that uses the arts as a springboard to teach life skills to individuals both inside and outside of state correctional facilities. He initiated the Youth Empowerment Through the Arts initiative that launched in Queens, New York, and he continues to work as an arts-in-education advocate. Alston performed and collaborated with Kaneza Schaal on PLEASE, BURY ME at Baryshnikov Arts Center and GO FORTH during a Performance Space 122, RAMP residency. Other performance highlights include One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 12 Angry Men, and the title role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.