Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:
KANEZA SCHAAL: JACK &
May 24 - 26, 2018
Image credit: Kaneza Schaal: JACK &. Image by Amani Ragland.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents JACK &, a genre-bending comedy of errors directed by Kaneza Schaal and starring Cornell Alston that considers the unmeasurable damage of incarceration on one's dreams and aspirations. Through the lens of rituals for entering society, such as prison re-entry programs and debutante balls, this three-part performance explores the lived experience of rebuilding one's life after prison and the transitions and transformations that bridge society's disparate worlds. Whereas the state sees in black and white -- who is innocent and who is guilty -- JACK & focuses on the internal lives of the incarcerated, exposing the complexities and downfalls of how society trains humans to live. With design and text by Christopher Myers and live music by Rucyl Mills, JACK & takes place at the MCA Stage May 24-26, 2018 and is organized by MCA Associate Curator of Performance Tara Aisha Willis.
Building a portrait of a dream interrupted and resumed, Cornell Alston as 'Jack' comes home from working the night shift at a bakery to make a cake for his wife 'Jill.' Marking the return to his own, internal life, Jack whirls through a dance that is part-dream, part-transformation ritual. The play is enacted through familiar forms of expression adapted from stand-up comedy, soul music, recipes, sitcoms, and social dance, with a set that serves as a comedy club, a 1950s kitchen, and a ballroom.
As social rituals both real and imagined play out in these spaces, JACK & resists a linear narrative, offering entry points to broader conversations. Encouraging civic dialogue outside of the performance itself, Schaal, Alston, and Myers led an engagement residency at the MCA earlier this year, sharing the themes of the performance with high school students, educators, and organizers in Chicago, and building audiences with support from Jane M. Saks and Project&.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Kaneza Schaal is a New York City-based theater artist. Her recent work GO FORTH premiered at Performance Space 122, then was shown at the Genocide Memorial Amphitheater in Kigali, Rwanda; the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's River-to-River Festival; the Contemporary Arts Center in 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, is being workshopped through New Victory Theater Lab, NYU Abu Dhabi, and will show at the Kennedy Center's New Vision New Voices. 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, Whitney Museum, MoMA, and Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Cornell Alston (Jack) is a long-time member of Rehabilitation Through the Arts, a non-profit 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.
JACK & runs 75 minutes and takes place at 7:30 pm on Thursday-Saturday, May 24-26, with an additional 2 pm show on Saturday, May 26. Tickets for the performances are $30 and are available at the MCA Box Office at 312.397.4010 or www.mcachicago.org.
The MCA gratefully acknowledges Creative Engagement and Presenting Collaborator Jane M. Saks and Project&.
Lead support for the 2017-18 season of MCA Stage is provided by Elizabeth A. Liebman. Generous support is provided by Lois and Steve Eisen and The Eisen Family Foundation, Ginger Farley and Bob Shapiro, the Martha Struthers Farley and Donald C. Farley Jr. Family Foundation, Sharon and Lee Oberlander, Maya Polsky, Carol Prins and John Hart/The Jessica Fund, Susan Manning and Doug Doetsch, D. Elizabeth Price and Lou Yecies, and Ms. Shawn M. Donnelley and Dr. Christopher M. Kelly. Additional generous support for MCA Stage is provided by Enact, the MCA's performance affinity group. The MCA is a proud member of the Museums in the Park and receives major support from the Chicago Park District. Season support is provided by Alphawood Foundation. Hotel sponsorship provided by Residence Inn Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile.