Jefe's House

Tag: dan student

Philly Inquirer sez Joe Turner Rocks

by on Jan.26, 2012, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

A hoodoo man and a searcher: Damien Wallace (left) and Kash Goins, who meet at a boardinghouse. (DREW HOOD / Throwing Light Photography)

‘Joe Turner’s Come and Gone’: A tale of searching, tinged with mysticism

By Toby Zinman, for The Inquirer

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone is a big, strong, juicy play, and Plays & Players’ production is just as big, strong, and juicy. Representing the second decade in August Wilson’s “Century Cycle,” Joe Turner takes place a hundred years ago in 1911, a suitable choice for Plays & Players Theater’s 100th anniversary. While the building may be old, the company is new; it’s led by Daniel Student, who is rapidly proving himself a young director of range and vision.

Joe Turner – brother of Pete Turner, a late-19th-century governor of Tennessee – arbitrarily seized black men off the streets and forced them into slave farm labor for periods of seven years. Herald Loomis (the excellent Kash Goins), the mysterious, half-destroyed visionary figure at the center of Joe Turner, has spent three years since being freed walking with his young daughter Zonia (Lauryn Jones), searching for the wife who vanished while he was captive. They arrive at a Pittsburgh boardinghouse – the perfect locale to represent the comings and goings of the Northern Migration – run by the practical Seth Holly (James Tolbert) and his comforting wife, Bertha (Cherie Jazmyn).

 The other residents are a hoodoo man named Bynam (the thrilling Damien Wallace), who can bind people with a song and spell; Jeremy, a hotshot country bumpkin (Jamal Douglas); Mattie, a sweet, often-betrayed woman (Candace Thomas); and Molly, beautiful and dangerous (Mle Chester). There is a boy (Brett Gray) next door, who befriends Zonia, and a traveling peddler (Bob Weick), the “people finder” who is the grandson of slave traders.
Their lives briefly intersect – as they would in a week-to-week boardinghouse – mingling romance and business and desperation and pain and storytelling. The play powerfully suggests significance far beyond the plot: In the vision Herald Loomis sees of bones walking on the water and of people “shaking hands and saying goodbye to each other and walking every whichaway down the road,” Wilson give us the Middle Passage, to slavery, to the diaspora, to freedom.

The play lays down a solid layer of mundane detail – lots of biscuit-eating and coffee-drinking and dishwashing – allowing the extraordinary to stand out, especially the terrific Juba scene: wild, African-derived dancing after Sunday night’s fried-chicken dinner. The interesting set designed by Lance Kniskern is, suitably, half realistic, half suggestive, allowing the mysticism to mingle with the commonplace.

Get your tickets here.



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Superheroes at the Brooklyn Lyceum

by on Dec.02, 2011, under NYC, The Sixth Boro, Theatre

I speak from first-hand experience when I highly recommend Daniel Student’s Superheroes Who Are Super! show dropping into Brooklyn from Philly on 12/17-18. It’s hilarious, it’s smart, you’ll have a blast. Dan is also the artistic director of Plays & Players Theatre in Philly where I’m currently a playwright-in-residence, and he directed my Philly Fringe show Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead which got raves. If you make it to Superheroes be sure to say hi to Dan; he’s a gem and a real talent.

Superheroes Who Are Super!

at the Brooklyn Lyceum
Saturday, December 17, 2011 at 3pm and 6pm and 9pm (9pm is the PG-13 version; the rest are family-friendly)
Sunday, December 18, 2011 at 3pm and 6:00pm

Word for word staged readings of classic comic books with the best in low budget costumes and special effects

Tickets: $10

Starring Ray Fallon, Michael McElroy, Brendan Norton, Angela Smith, and Johnny Smith

Directed by Daniel Student


Marvel Team-Up #1 featuring Spider-Man and The Human Torch, “Have Yourself A Sandman Little Christmas” (1972)
Written by Roy Thomas

Spider-Man and The Human Torch team up to keep the Sandman from ruining Christmas but all he really wants to do is get home to his mama. Now if they could only find their own Christmas spirits and stop bickering with each other.

Marvel Holiday Special #3, “Revisionist History”
Written by Peter David

Doctor Leonard Samson tells the story of Hanukah. You know, the story that involves Captain America, The Hulk, and Wolverine. And robots. You know. THAT story of Hanukah.

Marvel Holiday Special #3, “The Big X-Mas Blackout”
Written by Richard Howell and Stan Lee

Electro wants to put the light out on the Rockefeller Center Tree. Oh and also all of New York City. Not if Spidey can help it.


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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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