Jefe's House

Tag: mississippi john hurt

One More Day To Gravy

by on Mar.24, 2015, under On the Road

Amtrak Residency
Day 11

20150323_13090920150323_085531Kali gnashed her teeth
Scraping across the sky
We scattered in her sweat
Leaped across its rivers
Looking for hard cover
Relishing the dance
Wiping out





Where’s Letter Man when you need him?

A chilly, snowy, slushy day in the Windy City. Awoke to falling snow and a forecast that had increased to 3 to 6 inches.

Another 10-mile run along Lake Michigan was out of the question so I ran 10 miles on a treadmill in my hotel’s fitness room. That might seem like a desperate act but after a 2 and half days of being sedentary on a train I had to sweat out some toxins and burn off the crazy.

20150323_130641I then had a scrumptious lunch at the nearby Berghoff Restaurant, a local landmark that’s been serving German-American cuisine since 1898. (continue reading…)

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Boneyards Final Shows This Weekend

by on Oct.30, 2013, under Shaheb Cafe, The Press, The Sixth Boro, The Truth Is In Here, Theatre

Come wake the dead.  BONEYARDS returns for 2 final shows this Saturday and Sunday 11/2 and 11/3 in Philadelphia.  Times and tickets.

Meanwhile please enjoy my latest article in today’s Washington Post about my theatrical experiments in contacting the dead as performance art over the past two years.  Thank you for your support and patronage, and Happy Halloween.

wapobanner2October 31, 2013

On Faith
Supernatural Skeptics Don’t Know What They’re Missing
by Jeffrey Stanley

I try contacting the spirit world before live audiences to keep an element of hope simmering on the back burner of my mind.

I like Ouija boards. I’ve used them since I was a teenager.  More recently I’ve messed around with electric spirit boxes, also known as Frank’s boxes after their inventor Frank Sumption.  They’re radio receivers which allow you to listen to and record voices of the dead, also known as EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) or Raudive voices, after one of their early discoverers.  Over the past two years I have frequently used Ouija boards and spirit boxes in my performance art, attempting to conjure up the dead as my co-stars before a live audience.  At one of the universities where I teach playwriting and screenwriting part-time I am also the faculty adviser for a student-led paranormal investigation club.  Friends and fans assume I am a true believer but the truth is that I am not.  I am a healthy skeptic.  And that’s depressing for me because it means that on some level I feel certain there’s nothing out there. I try contacting the spirit world before live audiences to keep an element of hope simmering on the back burner of my mind. CONT’D>>

And also out today from Drexel University a story about the PIG of which I’m the proud faculty adviser…

drexelnow_overDrexel Paranormal Investigators Haunted by the Unknown
by Alissa Falcone
…It doesn’t hurt that the group’s faculty adviser also has an interest with the undead: By day, Jeffrey Stanley teaches classes in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design’s Screenwriting and Playwriting Department, but at night he transforms into undead residents of cemeteries from all over the world during “Boneyards,” his performance that imagines supernatural comic monologues.CONT’D at>>


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Boneyards is Back for 4: 10/17, 10/20, 11/2, 11/3

by on Oct.07, 2013, under Shaheb Cafe, The Sixth Boro, Theatre

Later this month Jeffrey Stanley discusses seance as performance art in the Washington Post. Stay tuned.

Press Contact:


Philadelphia, PA – The ongoing seance-as-theatre experiment continues.  After a successful run in the 2013 Philly Fringe BONEYARDS is back from the dead to rock your underworld just in time for Halloween. Same autobiographical, spooky show, same mouldering location, same real ghosts. 4 dates: 10/17, 10/20, 11/2 and 11/3. Tickets $10, seating is limited to 20.

The hilarious, eloquent and haunting follow-up to Stanley’s 2011 hit “Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead,” this true to life romp resurrects the cadaverous–from Philly’s Laurel Hill Cemetery to a British colonial graveyard in India to ancient Greek tomb worshippers. Paranormal activity guaranteed.

Times, tickets, photos, press, playbill, and real voices from the dead here.

About Your Destination
Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and beyond crowded South Philadelphia in the 1880s.  They pushed south from the original “Jewish Quarter” near South Street, opening Jewish schools, hospitals and some 140 synagogues along the way. Hard to believe today, eh?  In 1909 (continue reading…)

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BONEYARDS: Unfringed

by on Sep.30, 2013, under Shaheb Cafe, The Sixth Boro, Theatre


BONEYARDS is back from the dead to rock your underworld just in time for Halloween.  Shiva3 is proud to announce the return of Jeffrey Stanley’s solo show BONEYARDS which was a hit in the 2013 Philly Fringe. The 80-minute show will again be performed in the dark, dank coal cellar of the century-old storefront Shivtei Yeshuron Ezras-Israel Synagogue, also known as “the little shul” (part of the June 2013 Hidden City Festival) at 2015 South 4th Street in South Philly near Snyder Avenue for 4 performancesStanley’s solo show is a followup to his 2011 Fringe hit BEAUTIFUL ZION: A BOOK OF THE DEAD. Stanley is also a dramatic writing faculty at New York University Tisch School of the Arts and at Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. He is a religion blogger for the Washington Post.


About the Show
A funeral for the living. A coming-of-age embalming. A suicidal decapitation by coal train. A cross-dressing hillbilly named Doodlebug. This metatheatrical, taphophilic, true-to-life monologue resurrects and converses with the cadaverous– (continue reading…)

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Joe Turner’s In This Town

by on Jan.16, 2012, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

Excited to report that August Wilson’s masterful Joe Turner’s Come and Gone opens on the mainstage of Plays & Players this Thursday, January 19th. The play is set in 1911, the same year Plays & Players was founded, which is part of the reason for its inclusion in our 100th anniversary season.  It’s also included because it’s a smart and powerful play, and because it’s part of our mission statement to bring greater diversity to Philadelphia’s theatre scene.

Wilson took the title from the old blues song Joe Turner, my favorite version of which is the one by Mississippi John Hurt:

They tell me Joe Turner’s in this town
They tell me Joe Turner’s in this town
He’s a man I hate, I don’t want him hangin’ around.

The song is about Joe Turney, aka Joe Turner, a real-life kidnapper of blacks during the Jim Crow South after the Civil War.  I quote liberally from  “In the late 19th century, a man named Joe Turney became well-known in the South. He was the brother of Pete Turney who was the governor of Tennessee. Joe Turney had the responsibility of taking black prisoners from Memphis to the Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville. It is said that Joe would make a habit of distributing some of the prisoners to convict farms along the Mississippi River, where employers paid commissions to obtain laborers.

“According to Leon F. Litwack in his terrific book Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow:  ‘Most of the prisoners had been rounded up for minor infractions, often when police raided a craps game set up by an informer; after a perfunctory court appearance, the blacks were removed, usually the same day, and turned over to Turney. He was reputed to have handcuffed eighty prisoners to forty links of chain. When a man turned up missing that night in the community, the word quickly spread, ‘They tell me Joe Turner’s come and gone.’ Family members were left to mourn the missing (p.270).

“Joe Turney was the embodiment of the convict leasing system. ”

Set in a boarding house in Pittsburgh’s predominantly black Hill district during the Great Migration, this is a play about the search for identity, family and home after centuries of slavery.  It is at times heartbreaking, hilarious, musical and entertaining. In 1911 as emancipated slaves move north in search of employment and a chance to start over, Seth and Bertha Holly’s boarding house offers a new place to call home. Their routines are shaken when an angry and lost man arrives looking for his wife whom he hasn’t seen for years after he was captured and put in a chain gang by Joe Turner.  They are all forced to confront their own demons and come together to help the lost stranger find his way.

Don’t miss it. Get your tickets here.

Plays & Players Presents:
Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by August Wilson
Directed by Daniel Student
Starring Kash Goins, Damien Wallace, James Tolbert, Cherie Jazmyn, Jamal Douglas, Candace Thomas, Mlé Chester, Bob Weick, Lauryn Jones, Brett Gray, and Erin Stewart


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