Thursday, September 06, 2007

So, for the past couple of weeks I've been working on The Book of Daniel, which despite it's biblical references is not religious in theme at all. Unless you consider rigorous inquiries into questions of immortality, race relations, war, freedom, justice, and the black gay male body a religious-spiritual act.

I was asked to stage manage the show, and as a piece of that, have had the opportunity to witness Daniel Alexander Jones in his creative process. This in and of itself is incredibly liberating and inspiring. Daniel works in the jazz aesthetic, an aesthetic I've been apprenticed under for the past couple of years - since I began to work with The Austin Project, Sharon Bridgforth and Omi Osun Olomo/Joni L Jones. He appeared with a script on August 19 and by August 24 had re-written about 95% of it, incorporating the Director - Tea Alagic - the musician Walter Kitundu and two other actors. The underlying metaphor for the piece is birds. Ravens, specifically. And the story revolves around Daniel's journey to who he is in this moment. How he's become present to his own mortality/immortality, and how the people with whom he's worked have shaped that journey. Malcolm X and Josephine Baker act as spiritual guideposts that become embodied in music and dance, respectively. And in stars. The piece opens with the question:

"What happens when a star dies?"

and goes on from there. What does happen when a star dies? Daniel is drawing on Dogon mythology, theatre culture, science and metaphysics. And in all of that, creating a universe in which we are also asked to take full responsibility and question our own relationships to history, art, culture and immortality.

The show opens tonight. As they say in theatre, "Merde."

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