Jefe's House

Tag: beautiful zion a book of the dead

Jeff Scratch Fever on 1/12

by on Dec.28, 2011, under The Press, The Sixth Boro, Theatre

I’m thrilled to have been invited to give a brief performance followed by Q&A at Philadelphia Live Arts‘ first ever Scratch Night at the Live Arts Brewery (LAB) on Thursday, January 12th at 7pm and I would love to see you there.

Scratch Night invites audiences into the artistic process and plays a key role for artists who are testing, experimenting and building new ideas.  I will present a portion of my 2011 Philly Fringe show Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead as I continue to develop it for future productions in Philadelphia and New York City.

You might know the show was originally staged in the nontraditional space that is the Blue Grotto, artist Randy Dalton’s blue-lit wonderland in the coal cellar of the 1851 former Friends meetinghouse that is today the Community Education Center in West Philly. I could have seated 40 but I capped it at 16 to keep it intimate and participatory for the audience:

My question is, how can the show be modified to be performed on a traditional stage without losing its magic and intimacy? How can it be performed not for a max seating of 16 but a max seating of 100?  Doable, or should this thing stay in the basement, wherever that basement may be? Come help me find out.


or at

or at Philadelphia Gay News.


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Drinks at Quig’s Are On Me

by on Oct.15, 2011, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

Plays & Players Theatre on 17th and Delancey Streets in Philadelphia, PA.

Fresh on the heels of a highly successful Philly Fringe show I am delighted, surprised,  and thrilled to have been named one of Philadelphia’s three 2011-12 PDC@Plays & Players Playwrights-in-Residence.

The Philadelphia Dramatists Center (PDC) is a membership community of playwrights, collaborating artists and audience members dedicated to creating and nurturing new work.  PDC develops resources, stimulates creative partnerships and participates in the ongoing national dialogue about how and why theater is created.

The historic Plays & Players Theatre turns 100 this year. It  began in 1911 as a private social club, similar to the Players Club in Manhattan, devoted to expanding and developing new theater experiences for and by its wealthy membership. The first President, actress Maud Skinner, was the wife of the famed American actor Otis Skinner.  The Plays & Players Theatre building on 17th and Delancey, then called the “Little Theatre of Philadelphia,” first opened its shows to the public in 1913 with a mission to produce “American plays of ideas.” And they meant it.   Plays & Players sought out and produced cutting edge work by America’s newest playwrights including Philadelphia premieres in 1916 and 1919 of  some of the earliest plays by Eugene O’Neill (Before Breakfast) and Susan Glaspell (Suppressed Desires and Trifles), the world premiere in 1949 of Bevan & Trzcinski’s acclaimed Stalag 17 before it moved to Broadway, and an early performance by actor Kevin Bacon in 1974.  Once an exclusive club, Plays & Players has grown over the years into a professional quality theatre devoted to supporting established and emerging Philadelphia artists in practicing and performing their crafts.

I know what you’re wondering: is it haunted? Finding out will be my first order of business.  I am told that many of the bar staff who work on the 3rd floor in the members-only Quig’s Pub have spotted the ghost of deceased longtime bartender Leon passing through the room on occasion, then there’s the oft-spotted ghost of a little boy standing on the mainstage, and others insist the ghost of Maud Skinner haunts one of the dressing rooms. We shall see…

Here too is a terrific video tour of Plays & Players made by mysterious stranger Lance Davis last month.

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Philly Daily News commands thee to Beautiful Zion

by on Sep.02, 2011, under The Press, The Sixth Boro, Theatre

At the Fringe Festival, there are edgy venues that grip an audience

by Molly Eichel

“ONE OF THE most exciting aspects of the Fringe Festival — the unjuried, anything-goes companion to the Live Arts Festival — is when it draws audiences to places they’ve never been before and might never have a chance to go again, whether it’s a room in an unknown mansion or in the depths of a possibly haunted grotto.

The Blue Grotto

After the demise of a close relative who drank himself to death, Jeffrey Stanley became obsessed with communicating with the dead through Ouija boards.

Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead is a “real dark comedy” about the years he spent trying to talk to the other side. But how could all that eeriness (and humor) be conveyed in a traditional theater space? So the New York expat looked for a stage appropriate for the macabre elements of his decidedly funny show. He found the Blue Grotto in West Philly’s Community Education Center. It’s decked out in thousands of blue lights on light fixtures by artist Randy Dalton. Stanley equates it to a mad scientist’s laboratory. ‘It’s visually stunning, it’s creepy as hell, it’s in the cellar of an old building and it might be haunted,’ Stanley said, ticking off the reasons that the Blue Grotto is perfect for his piece.”

The Blue Grotto at the Community Education Center, 3500 Lancaster Ave., 8 p.m. Sept. 7-17, $20.”  Tickets and more info here.

Philly Daily News article cont’d HERE->>

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Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe ready to buy its own building

by on Aug.28, 2011, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre


[reposted from]

by Howard Shapiro

“The actors are setting up shop, as are the dancers, comics, acrobats, clowns, musicians, and uncategorizable others — some from around America, others from across the sea, many from zip codes all over the area.  Every Philadelphia performance space is taken — as well as spaces not normally used for performance…It’s all in preparation for one of the nation’s powerhouse arts festivals…The Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe — 16 days and nights of sometimes experimental and risky, sometimes outré and bizarre, and frequently striking work — opens Friday…For all its constant growth in audience-building, fund-raising, and mentoring performers, Live Arts/Philly Fringe – now a $2.6 million annual operation known to just about everybody as, simply, the Fringe…”  CONT’D AT PHILLY.COM>>

Tickets are onsale now for Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead.

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Jesus Christ, Satan, Mark Twain, Jimi Hendrix

by on Aug.26, 2011, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

And those are just the confirmed guest performers.

Unconfirmed guests include Jay-Z, Beyonce, Dave Groll, the Black Eyed Peas and the Goo Goo Dolls.

Do not miss this show.

Opens 9/7 in Philadelphia.

Only 8 performances.

Seating is extremely limited.

$20 tickets available now.

Shiva3 Productions presents Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead.


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An Authentic Message From Beautiful Zion

by on Aug.18, 2011, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre


“I have here a 1917 original William Fuld Ouija Board and planchette. I have consulted polarity practitioners and radionics experts from around the world. They have examined the entire Community Education Center, and they have determined that there are, shall we say, certain presences in the Blue Grotto. And that these presences have a vortex, as it were. A gateway, if you will.  An entrance to Hell, if I may.  And that entrance is right over there.  Tonight it contains a small table and two chairs. Who’s in? Shall we put all I’ve told you tonight to the test? I need 3 incredibly cool, incredibly brave, bold, fearless volunteers to help me reach across to Beautiful Zion and bring his ass back.”

$20.00 tickets to this intimate, action-packed, supernatural event are onsale now. Only 8 performances. Only 16 seats per show. Order now. Advance online orders only — no tickets will be sold at the door.





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Beautiful Zion: The Interview

by on Aug.11, 2011, under The Press, The Sixth Boro, Theatre


Interviewer Kristen Scatton of Rep Radio in Philadelphia wound up deftly getting me to talk about some things that weren’t even on my agenda, like my feelings about NYU Tisch School of the Arts, being taught and strongly encouraged by David Ives, my adventures with Tesla, Ouija Boards, death and why everything is not going to be okay, reflecting on why I never moved to LA, and a call-to-arms to Philadelphia filmmakers.  Oh and there’s also my upcoming Philly Fringe show Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead directed by Dan Student. 

Many thanks to Kristen for joining me in the Blue Grotto for the interview during a rehearsal break. Listen now.


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Call Me Swag

by on Aug.05, 2011, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

Photo by Iggy Rocketboy.

In order to promote my show I’m changing my name to Swag for the next week and using the royal we.  Below, a clip of us at our first rehearsal in the Blue Grotto.  Our director Dan Student has been in China but before he left he did much work with us in the 3rd floor studio at Plays & Players, pretending it had the Blue Grotto’s layout to the extent possible. This was our first attempt to try things out for real.

This is not a rehearsal video but a quick walk-through to show Dan what I’d come up with. I slapped it up on Youtube (unlisted at first) for him to take a look at from China, forgetting that they block Youtube there.  So much for cybercollaboration across political ideologies.

No worries, we’ll be working together soon enough and resume formal rehearsals in the Blue Grotto thanks to CEC artist-in-residence Randy Dalton‘s generosity and support for the show.

Enjoy guerrilla theatre as it develops:

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What happens in Beautiful Zion stays in Beautiful Zion

by on Jul.29, 2011, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

“Flash forward 16 years. By the time I was a teenager I had begun to get suspicious. It was the 1980s. A time of suspicion.”

“I mean it. I was starting to realize that the government could be lying to me sometimes. Nicaragura. The expose of the brutally cruel CIA training manual. Then it got worse. Not only could the government lie to me. Religion could also lie to me. When I was 16 years old I was sitting in a church with my mom and the deacon came out into the congregation during an altar call and dragged us both down front to get saved. They tried to cast Satan out of me.

Don’t worry. It didn’t take.

But I did start reaching out to the netherworld. I was at my friend’s New Year’s Eve party with a bunch of people. We were all sitting around a candle-lit kitchen table in the dark. The mood was right for the conversation to turn toward seances. Instinctively I knew what to do. Before the night was over Jimi Hendrix had possessed a kitten and the Christmas tree was on fire.”

Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead.  September, 2011. Philadelphia. Tickets are now available.

While you’re here enjoy the official jingle of Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead.

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Philly Fringe Haiku: “Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead”

by on Jul.09, 2011, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

Posted By : Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe

Photo by Iggy Rocketboy.

“Playwright Jeffrey Stanley writes in with this haiku about his 2011 Philly Fringe show, Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead.

homemade ouija boards
work well but store-bought is more
convenient onstage

In my favorite CCD [Confraternity of Christian Doctrine] class growing up, our instructor totally had us make a ouija board out of a pizza box and play with it in class. I can’t remember what the point was, but we had to promise not to tell anybody. See what this show is making me confess?!

Jeffrey promises multiple endings, ghost visitations, audience invovlement in his occultish activity, and the secret to human happiness. I think the secret is Michter’s bourbon, but I can only confirm that with a visit to Jeffrey’s one-man show at West Philly’s Community Education Center, in the Blue Grotto room. If the secret’s not Michter’s, my weltanshauung will be upset.

Jeffrey’s Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead runs for eight performances from September 7 to September 17 at the Community Education Center, 35th and Lancaster, West Philadelphia. 8:00 pm, $20. Tickets on sale soon!”

Nicholas Gilewicz

[reposted from]


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