1–2:30pm / Oct 6 / Segal Theatre

(((jazz singer)))

Joshua William Gelb, Nehemiah Luckett, and Moe Yousuf

Turning Towards A Radical Listening

James Allister Sprang as GAZR


Mariana Valencia

Photo (left) courtesy of the artist; photo (middle) by Carlos Monino; photo (right) by Ian Douglas.
Works-in-Process are excerpts from new work, in development or recently premiered.
Q&A moderated by Margit Edwards.

(((jazz singer)))


Where is the jazz in Jazz Singer? Who does jazz belong to? Is appropriation a necessity of being an immigrant in America? Is this even an immigrant story? Is blackface about fear of blackness? Can blackface ever be taken off? Is it possible to make art under the weight of these questions? Created by Joshua William Gelb, Nehemiah Luckett, and Moe Yousuf, (((jazz singer))) is a jam session interrogation of assimilation, appropriation and atonement as captured in the first feature-film with synchronized dialogue, The Jazz Singer. Like a standard’s melody disassembled (((jazz singer))) exhumes and reclaims this 1927 relic about a Jewish minstrel performer, infusing it with the poetry of Langston Hughes, the movement of silent pictures, and the music of a people the film chose otherwise to ignore. You ain’t heard nothing yet.

Joshua William Gelb has shown and created original work in New York City since 2007 and has previously directed at Incubator Arts, Ars Nova, Abrons Arts Center and Sinking Ships’ Drama Desk nominated A Hunger Artist. Moe Yousuf is a theater-maker and the Associate Artistic Director of Target Margin Theater. Together they collaborated on The Black Crook (2016), a New York Times Critics’ Pick at Abrons Arts Center, where they are currently artists-in-residence developing (((jazz singer))) with composer/conductor/performer Nehemiah Luckett.

Featuring: Tracey Conyer Lee, Joshua William Gelb, Nehemiah Luckett, Nathan Stevens 

Dramaturgy:  Zhailon Levingston


(((jazz singer))) will open at the Abrons Arts Center Playhouse in September of 2019.

Turning Towards A Radical Listening


“There is a poetry to the way sound can become a recording and how those recordings may go on to envelop us. The poetry found in these transformations are the clues to imagining a political and emotional landscape I can have faith in.” – GAZR

“poetry is an action…that dreams ourselves into existence.” – Yusef Komunyakaa

Turning Towards a Radical Listening is a DJ lecture-performance, in which poems are written with altered DJ technology. GAZR, a poet who has aligned himself with the histories of black music production, shares and manipulates samples from a wide range of recorded conversations. In many of these recordings writers speak on their relationship with life and language. From intimate, challenging, and radically vulnerable sonic fragments a soundscape is quilted, an audience is called to ponder the reflection of a black mirror and a concrete poem is born.

James Allister Sprang as GAZR: Raised in Miami, James Allister Sprang is a first-generation Caribbean-American. James creates work that exists in gallery spaces, theater spaces and the space generally found between the ears. Working across mediums—photography, sound, duration, installation—Sprang employs a unique vocabulary of poetic symbols. His work is a rigorous parallax of new media storytelling informed by the poetry of the black experimental tradition. After graduating from the Cooper Union, Sprang inserted himself into the downtown New York experimental theater scene under the guise of GAZR (pronounced “gazer”) —a poet-turned-rapper that utilizes histories of black music production and the constructs of theater to explore the latency of language. Sprang received his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania and has shown/performed work at institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, David Nolan Gallery, Abrons Arts Center, The Public Theater, The Apollo Theater, the Brooklyn Museum, Knockdown Center, Pioneer Works, and The Kitchen.

Aon – Assistant Music Producer


Fountainhead Residency (Miami) October 1-28, Baryshnikov Arts Center (NYC) Nov. 15, MONOM (Berlin) Mar 1st-31st, 2019; @jamesallistersprang



Bouquet examines authorship by questioning what gets carried into Valencia’s work through the modes of proximity, relation, and alliance. This process seeks to manipulate perceptions of life and its collaborators. Bouquet is sourced from various popular and cultural alliances and this particular ensemble of sources builds a choral surround of references. Valencia’s trajectory is not solely bound to her cultural history, but rather an algorithm ― of body, object and language ― that creates a collective shout. The performance is similar to a vernacular exchange between the performer and the audience that encourages the responder to craft a field of meaning. The work proposes a lens for observation that positions our personal and cultural attachment to objects and subjects, and why (or, if?) we choose to live among them. In Bouquet, Valencia invites the audience to traverse a dense field of collective reference.

Mariana Valencia is a dance artist based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been presented at Danspace Project, Roulette, the Center for Performance Research, The New Museum, The Women and Performance Journal, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and AUNTS. Internationally, her work has been presented in Serbia and Macedonia. Valencia is a Bessie Award recipient for Outstanding Breakthrough Choreographer (2018), a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Award to Artists grant recipient (2018), a Jerome Travel and Study Grant fellow (2014-15), a Yellow House Fund of the Tides Foundation grant recipient (2010-13) and a Movement Research GPS/Global Practice Sharing artist (2016/17). She is a founding member of the No Total reading group (2012-2015) and she has been the co-editor of Movement Research’s Critical Correspondence (2016-17). Valencia has held residencies at Chez Bushwick (2013), New York Live Arts Studio Series (2013-14), ISSUE Project Room (2015), Brooklyn Arts Exchange (2016-18) and the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (2018). Valencia holds a BA from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA (2006) with a concentration in dance and ethnography.


The Chocolate Factory Theater April 2019


Margit Edwards is a Doctoral candidate in the Theatre and Performance Program at The Graduate Center, CUNY and adjunct Assistant Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and City College. An emerging dance scholar, Ms. Edwards has been a performer with Viver Brasil Dance Company, arts educator with artworxLA, and has been director, choreographer, and dramaturg for a number of projects since returning to NYC in 2012. Her research interests include West African theatre and dance performance, theories of Modernity and Coloniality, and transcultural dance dramaturgy. Recent publications include the article “African Performance in the Feast of St. Francis Xavier in 17th century Luanda, Angola” in the forthcoming Routledge Companion to African American Theatre and Performance.

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