the american vicarious Presents the World Premiere of (A)LOFT MODULATION
the american vicarious presents the World Premiere of (A)loft Modulation by NYC-based playwright Jaymes Jorsling. Inspired by true events at 821 6th Avenue from 1957 - 1965, (A)loft Modulation will feature a live jazz band led by saxophonist Jonathan Beshay that will improvise nightly. Opening Night is tonight, Thursday October 3rd. This limited Off-Broadway engagement runs through Sunday, October 27th.
Founding Artistic Director Christopher McElroen directs a cast that features Kevin Cristaldi (Dear Darkness - New Ohio, Message to Michael - world premiere Rattlestick, To Kill a Mockingbird - Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Spencer Hamp (Equus - Pittsburgh Public, The Cherry Orchard, Buzzer - ACT), Charlie Hudson III (A Raisin in the Sun - Broadway, Hurt Village - world premiere Signature Theatre, Little Rock - Sheen Center), Elisha Lawson (Syncing Ink - world premiere Alley Theatre/Flea Theater, A Raisin in the Sun - Indiana Rep/Syracuse Stage), Eric Miller (Mope - Ensemble Studio Theatre, Roger and Tom - HERE Arts Center), Buzz Roddy ("The Deuce" - HBO, The Show Off - Peccadillo, Perfect Crime), PJ Sosko (The Traveling Lady - Cherry Lane, Row After Row - Women's Project), Christina Toth ("Orange Is the New Black" - Season 6 & 7, "Boardwalk Empire" - Season 5; Lazarus - dir. Ivo van Hove/NYTW ), and Julia Watt (Invisible Man - Huntington Theatre Company).
Additional piano composition by Grammy nominee Gerald Clayton. The design team includes Troy Hourie (scenic design), Elivia Bovenzi (costume design), Becky Heisler McCarthy (lighting design), Andy Evan Cohen (sound design) and Adam J. Thompson (video design).
A gritty, dilapidated five-floor walk-up in Manhattan's seedy flower district is an after-hours haunt of musicians, artists, junkies and prostitutes. The fuse of American culture burns below the surface. It's the last explosive heyday of jazz and the inhabitants of the building jam night after night, while a compulsive photographer documents everything with round-the-clock reel-to-reel recordings and photographs.
Inspired by true events at 821 6th Ave between 1957 - 1965, (A)loft Modulation traces the turbulent, roiling obsessions of artists and loiterers in their pursuit of purpose, while social chaos seeks to overthrow American culture. It's angst vs. contentment, selfishness vs. benevolence, artist vs. layman - a struggle that plays out through the fractured lens of unlabeled reel-to-reel tapes which are stumbled upon 60-years after they were recorded.
Using archival video and sound, (A)loft Modulation will bring 821 6th Ave back to life for a few hours each night.
"If you want to know what's wrong with this country go ask a jazz musician."
"This quote recorded at 821 6th Ave in the 1950's is the guiding thesis of (A)loft Modulation," says McElroen. "In an American moment that is seeking to turn back the clock of progress, Jaymes Jorsling's play brings us to a specific American moment where hard fought change, progress and a 'new frontier' seemed possible, where art and culture were a vital part of societal fabric, and where the integrity of that was sacred-until it wasn't."
Jaymes Jorsling was a 2016-17 Artist-in-Residence at Brown University. There, he worked on his play trilogy "...Insufficient Funds..." named from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have A Dream Speech. (The trilogy addresses where America is headed, unless fairness and freedom become as inalienable as they are obliged to be). In 2015 he was commissioned by Duke University to write the script for multi Grammy nominee Gerald Clayton's sprawling oeuvre Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation (the piece is now touring internationally). Jaymes is currently a staff writer for TheTruthPodcast.com. He has workshopped his writings with Classical Theatre of Harlem, LAByrinth Theatre Company, HIP-HOP Theater Festival, New Federal, Inneract Productions, etc. He is a 4x finalist for the Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights' Conference, and was a fellow there in 2010. He has been a finalist for the LARK's Playwrights Week and was nominated for their prestigious PONY award. He's won Best Screenplay at the San Francisco Black Film Festival. As an actor, Jaymes has also appeared on "The Wire," "The Affair," "Law & Order," and more, as well as having done voice-overs for Nike, New Balance, Ford Escort, Dunkin' Donuts, Champs Sports, and others.
Christopher McElroen is a Brooklyn based media producer and director and the Founding Artistic Director of the american vicarious. Most recently, Christopher developed Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation in collaboration with four-time Grammy Award nominee, Gerald Clayton. Christopher received a 2013 Helen Hayes Award for his direction of the world premiere stage adaptation of Ralph Ellison's iconic novel Invisible Man. Alongside visual artist Paul Chan and Creative Time, Christopher co-produced and directed Waiting for Godot in New Orleans, a yearlong community development through the arts initiative in post-Katrina New Orleans. The project was recognized by The New York Times as one of the top ten national art events of 2007. The archives from the production have been acquired into the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and were on exhibit at MOMA May 2010 through September 2011. Christopher had the honor of directing the world-premiere of 51st (dream) State, the final work of poet, musician and activist Sekou Sundiata. 51st (dream) State was a multimedia exploration of American empire that premiered in New York at The Brooklyn Academy Of Music's Next Wave Festival before touring internationally. Christopher co-founded the acclaimed Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH) where from 1999 - 2009 he produced 41 productions yielding 18 AUDELCO Awards, 6 OBIE Awards, 2 Lucille Lortel Awards, a Drama Desk Award and CTH being named "1 of 8 theatres in America to Watch" by the Drama League.
Jonathan Beshay is a jazz saxophonist, bandleader, and composer who says that there's no other agenda when his group takes the bandstand. Fortunately for audiences, Beshay likes to hear good music. After many years of performing and listening, the result is an adaptable, energetic, fearlessly hard-swinging sound that pulls from a vast body of musical sources. Beshay has no trouble moving from the street-band wailing of traditional jazz to the intricate post-bop melodies of a Joe Henderson tune. It's all fair game, ". . . as long as it sounds good!" In addition to his own musical projects, Beshay has also served as musical director for both Winard Harper and his brother Philip Harper through tours at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, and the Omani Royal Opera House. He also spent time in New Orleans with Delfayo Marsalis, and has performed with many other masters including Eric Reed, Anthony Wonsey, and Frank Lacy.
the american vicarious, under Artistic Director Christopher McElroen, Producing Director Erica Laird and Executive Producer Tony Micocci, was formally incorporated in 2018. the american vicarious is committed to producing creative content across disciplinary boundaries that aspires to reflect on America's ideals and realities, and that which unites and divides its people. Their inaugural year, 2019, will include Gerald Clayton's concert installation Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation, and Sherief Elkatsha's documentary film Far From the Nile in addition to Jaymes Jorsling's (A)loft Modulation.
A.R.T./New York Theatres are a project of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York), which provide state-of-the-art, accessible venues at subsidized rental rates, plus free access to top-line technical equipment, so that the city's small and emerging theatre companies can continue to experiment, grow, and produce new works. Founded in 1972, A.R.T./New York is the leading service and advocacy organization for New York City's 400+ nonprofit theatres, with a mission to assist member theatres in managing their companies effectively so that they may realize their rich artistic visions and serve their diverse audiences well. We accomplish this through a comprehensive roster of real estate, financial, educational, and community-building programs, as well as research, advocacy, and field-wide initiatives that seek to improve the long-term health and sustainability of the industry. Over the years, A.R.T./New York has received numerous honors, including an Obie Award, an Innovative Theatre Award, a New York City Mayor's Award for Arts & Culture, and a Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre. For more information, please visit www.art-newyork.org.
Performances for (A)loft Modulation are Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 7pm, with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2pm (Note that Sunday Oct 27th's matinee will begin at 1pm) at A.R.T./NY Theatres, 502 West 53rd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues.
Tickets, which are $35-$55, may be purchased online at www.theamericanvicarious.org or by calling 1-866-811-4111.
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus