Emmy-Nominee Marsha Stephanie Blake, Becca Blackwell, Nidra Sousla Terre, Sheldon Best, Cecil Blutcher, More Join SHOWING UP from The Civilians, April 16
Last Edit: Official_Press_Release 03:28 pm EDT 04/14/21
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 03:28 pm EDT 04/14/21

Music and Performance Inspired by Accra Shepp's Photos of Black Lives Matter Activists
Featuring Emmy-Nominee Marsha Stephanie Blake, Becca Blackwell, Nidra Sous la Terre, Sheldon Best, Cecil Blutcher

The Civilians is proud to announce the cast for Showing Up, a free live streamed evening of music and performance inspired by photographer Accra Shepp's portraits of Black Lives Matter activists. The online event features Emmy-Nominee Marsha Stephanie Blake, Sheldon Best, Becca Blackwell, Cecil Blutcher, and host Nidra Sous la Terre; and original songs by Rashaan Carter with vocals by Anaïs Maviel, Jacinth Greywoode & Rebecca Hart; Jaime Lozano with vocals by Javier Ignacio; and Katie Madison & Jarrett Murray, performed by Madison and Deborah Cowell.

In the spring of 2020, Shepp began taking portraits of first responders at work on the frontlines of the pandemic. Shared on Instagramthese images became the first chapter "Contagion" of his Covid Journals, which also include a second chapter "Hunger," and then, as historic activism filled the streets of New York following the murder of George Floyd, a third, ongoing chapter, "Justice." The Civilians, a company known for its innovative approach to documentary theater, interviewed some of the activists depicted in Shepp's "Justice" chapter, each photographed at various Black Lives Matter gatherings in NYC. Showing Up, directed by Colette Robert and premiering on April 16 at 7:30pm, draws on these interviews to create performances by actors and original songs by artists including Rashaan Carter, Jacinth Greywoode & Rebecca Hart; Jaime Lozano; and Katie Madison & Jarrett Murray. A conversation with Accra Shepp frames the evening. To register for this free event, please visit www.thecivilians.org.

Showing Up is co-presented with the International Center for Photography, and Alice Austen House, and with the collaboration of the Alfred Stieglitz Society at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The creative team of Showing Up includes video director Sadah Espii Proctor, stage manager Fran Acuña-Almiron, dramaturg Phoebe Corde, associate dramaturg James La Bella, associate producer Sarah Boess, and interviews were conducted by Jesse Baxter, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Bailey Jordan Garcia, Dee Harper, Matt Maher, and Riley Tollen.

"I was introduced to Shepp's Covid Journals this past Fall and was moved by his striking ability to connect with each subject," says The Civilians' Artistic Director Steve Cosson. "In Shepp's photos, I saw an individual assert their presence on his or her own terms, giving a human-scale dimension to these larger, collective events. I'm delighted that Shepp agreed to work with us on this project, offering an opportunity for the voice of the individuals in these photos to 'show up' through their conversations with our company of interviewers, and the interpretation of their words by actors and musicians."

Showing Up is part of The Civilians annual cabaret series featuring new works made from creative investigations into real life; the series is supported by The Axe-Houghton Foundation.

For more information about Black Lives Matter please visit https://blacklivesmatter.com/

About the artists

Accra Shepp is a New York-based artist and writer. His images have been exhibited worldwide and are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and other institutions. His writing has appeared in The New York Times and the New York Review of Books as well as the artist book Atlas (in the collection of the Whitney Museum and the New York Public Library), and Windbook, an artist-book installation at the National Library of Luxembourg. The installation, which explored ethnicity and national identity, was a year-long project where the book was outside exposed to the elements with only the wind to turn its pages. He is currently working on a photo-based project titled "The Covid Journals."

Colette Robert (Director) is a director and playwright from Los Angeles and New York. Recent directing credits include STEW (Page 73), On the Exhale (Chester Theatre Company), and Behind the Sheet (Ensemble Studio Theatre). Her play The Harriet Holland Social Club presents the 84th Annual Star-Burst Cotillion in the Grand Ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel received a grant from NYC's Women's Film, TV, and Theatre Fund for a production in 2021 (co-produced by New Georges and The Movement Theatre Company). Colette is a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, a New Georges affiliated artist, and an adjunct lecturer at NYU. www.coletterobert.com

Sadah Espii Proctor (she/hers/Espii, Video Director) is an internationally-acclaimed XR director, sound designer, and Barrymore award-winning media artist for live performance and immersive experiences. She was recognized by American Theatre Magazine for multimedia storytelling in the "Six Theatre Artists to Know" series. Her work encompasses global stories of women, social issues, and the African Diaspora, often with an Afrofuturist/Cyberpunk lens. Designing music videos and visuals for live performance, her collaborations include Kimbra and Sophia Brous (EXO-TECH), Sasha Velour, Delune, Darian Dauchan, Neycha, ART21 Club, and Soul Science Lab. She received her M.F.A. in Performance and Interactive Media Arts from Brooklyn College and is a proud alumna of Virginia Tech.

Bassist Rashaan Carter (Composer) grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. Through the nurturing of his father, a saxophonist, and his mother, a jazz radio programmer, Carter forged an early interest in music. Rashaan has performed or recorded with Wallace Roney, David Murray, Henry Threadgill, Ravi Coltrane, Geri Allen, Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller, Louis Hayes, Marc Cary, Mos Def, Cindy Blackman, Nicole Mitchell, Antoine Roney, Sonny Simmons, Joe Chambers, and more.

Deborah Cowell (Vocals)is an artist from Brooklyn. Her Instagram handle is @i.deborah.cowell.

Jacinth Greywoode (Composer) is a New York-based composer and music director. Recent compositional credits include IRON JOHN (2020 Richard Rodgers Finalist, NAMT 2019, Theatreworks Silicon Valley 2019, O'Neill Incubator Residency), BLACK GIRL IN PARIS (Civilians R&D Group 2020-21) and DEATH BY LIFE, a commissioned opera premiering in May 2021. As MD, Jacinth has worked with the Public Theater, Universal Theatrical Group, and Roundabout Theatre Company, among others. Most recently he was Music Consultant and Arranger for the Broadway revival of Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize-winning A SOLDIER'S PLAY. More information at www.jacinthgreywoode.com

Rebecca Hart (Composer, Civilians Associate Artist) is an actor, singer/songwriter, and lyricist/librettist. w/the Civilians: The Great Immensity (KC Rep & The Public), The End & the Beginning (the Met), Rimbaud in New York (BAM), Let Me Ascertain You(Joe's Pub), microcosmos (R&D Group). Her musical IRON JOHN: an american ghost story (w/Jacinth Greywoode) has been produced/developed at NYU Tisch, Theatreworks Silicon Valley, O'Neill Incubator, the 2019 NAMT Festival, Temple University, and Manhattan School of Music (upcoming). Her album The Magician's Daughter is available streaming. Currently: the barren(s) a short opera (libretto) commissioned by the Kennedy Center, and the chrysalis, a weekly livestream show. www.rebeccahart.net

Javier Ignacio (Vocals)- Broadway: Company (2020 Revival), Side Show; Off-Broadway: Twelfth Night (Fiasco Theatre, PublicWorks), Encores! Call Me Madam, Children of Salt: The Musical (NYMF); National Tour: Into the Woods (Fiasco Theatre) | Regional: La Jolla Playhouse, Kennedy Center, and MTWichita | Wichita State University; AEA @iamjavierignacio

Jaime Lozano (Composer) Considered by Lin-Manuel Miranda as the "next big thing" on Broadway. Joe's Pub Working Group 2021. The Civilians' R&D Group 2020. Selected: The Yellow Brick Road (Off-Broadway & National Tour), Carmen La Cubana (European Tour), Children of Salt (NYMF 2016), A Never-Ending Line (Off-Broadway), Savage, Present Perfect. Albums: R.Evolución Latina's "Dare to Go Beyond," "A Never-Ending Line," "Songs by an Immigrant," these last two released by Broadway Records. MFA: NYU/Tisch, Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America, BMI and GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY voting member

Anaïs Maviel's (Vocals) work as a vocalist, percussionist, composer and community facilitator focuses on the function of music as essential to settling common grounds, addressing Relation, and creating utopian future. Involved at the crossroads of mediums, Anaïs has been an in-demand creative force for artists such as William Parker, Daria Faïn, Shelley Hirsh, César Alvarez, Steffani Jemison - to give a sense of an eclectic company. Anaïs is dedicated to substantial creations from solo to large ensembles, music direction of cross-disciplinary works, and to expanding the power of music as a healing & transformative act. Anaïs performs and teaches extensively in New York, throughout the Americas and Europe. Both solo albums hOULe & in the garden, out on Gold Bolus Recordings, received international acclaim. Lastly, Anaïs Maviel is developing her composition language, especially thanks to the support of the 2019 Van Lier Fellowship, 2020 American Composers Forum Create commission with The Rhythm Method String Quartet and 2021-2022 Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship.

Katie Madison (Composer, vocals) is a Brooklyn based musical theatre artist. www.kvmadison.com Instagram: @kvmad

Jarrett Murray (Composer) is a Brooklyn born composer and musician. Formally a DC based artist he has written and collaborated on four original musicals and worked on several shows as an MD or Bassist. He has studied with such artists as Fred Carl, Kirsten Childs, Julianne Wick Davis, Michael John LaChiusa, Paul Denola and many others. Education: BA American University, MFA NYU Tisch. Jarrett's always excited for camp. Check me out on Instagram: JarrettMurrayMusic or Online: JarrettMurrayMusic.com

Nidra Sous la Terre (Host) holds an MFA from the Actors Studio Drama School and is on faculty at Pace School of Performing Arts. Broadway: The Book of Mormon, Marvin's Room. Off-Broadway: The House That Will Not Stand (New York Theatre Workshop), A Life (Playwrights Horizons), Mr. Burns (Playwrights Horizons), The Underlying Chris (Second Stage), Lost Lake (Manhattan Theatre Club), Headstrong (Ensemble Studio Theatre). Regional: Good People (The Old Globe), and Fairfield (Cleveland Play House). Television includes "NCIS: New Orleans," "Orange is the New Black," "Random Acts of Flyness," "Jessica Jones," "Bull," "Elementary," "30 Rock," "Law and Order: Criminal Intent". @nidrasouslaterre and nidrasouslaterre.com

Sheldon Best (Cast): NYC credits include The Hot Wing King (Signature Theatre); Sugar in Our Wounds (MTC); Travisville (Ensemble Studio Theatre); Romeo & Juliet (Public Theater), (Classical Theatre of Harlem); brownsville song (Lincoln Center/LCT3); The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Atlantic Theater); the box: a black comedy (Foundry Theatre); A Midsummer Night's Dream (CTH); Freed (59E59 & Penguin Rep); Six Rounds of Vengeance, Alice in Slasherland (Vampire Cowboys); Soul Samurai (Ma-Yi Theater & Vampire Cowboys). TV/Film - "Step Up: Season 3" (Starz), "Manifest" (NBC), "The Good Wife," "Unforgettable," "Person of Interest" (CBS); Ghost Light (H9 Films); Last Ferry (Emblematic Pictures). www.SheldonBest.com.

Marsha Stephanie Blake (Cast) received Emmy and Critics Choice nominations for her role as Linda McCray in Ava Duvernay's acclaimed When They See Us, a Netflix miniseries which documents the lives of the men previously known as the Central Park Five. She has also been a part of the award winning casts of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (for which she has a SAG Ensemble Award), THIS IS US and HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER. Films I'm Your Woman, The Laundromat, See You Yesterday and Luce are currently streaming on multiple platforms. She's been on and off Broadway in various performances, the most notable being "The Merchant of Venice" with Al Pacino, "Joe Turners Come and Gone" with Tony Award winner Roger Robinson and "Othello" with Daniel Craig, David Oyelowo and Rachel Brosnahan.

Becca Blackwell (Cast) is an NYC-based trans actor, performer and writer. Existing between genders, and preferring the pronoun "they," Blackwell works collaboratively with playwrights and directors to expand our sense of personhood and the body through performance. Some of their collaborations have been with Young Jean Lee, Half Straddle, Jennifer Miller's Circus Amok, Richard Maxwell, Erin Markey, Sharon Hayes, Theater of the Two Headed Calf and Lisa D'Amour. Film/TV includes: "High Maintenance," "Ramy," "Marriage Story," "Shameless." They have toured their solo shows They, Themself and Schmerm and Schmermie's Choice across the US. Blackwell was a recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award, the Franklin Furnace award and the Creative Capital Award.

Cecil Blutcher (Cast) Regional Theater: Pipeline (Actor's Theatre of Louisville); Petrol Station (The Kennedy Center). NYC: The Hot Wing King (Signature Theatre); Tempo (Ensemble Studio Theatre); Showtime Blues (Ensemble Studio Theatre). Film: Premature (Dir. Rashad Ernesto Green); Skin (Dir. Guy Nattiv); Sketch (Dir. Mariama Diallo). Television: Hightown (Lionsgate); The Good Fight (CBS All-Access); Random Acts of Flyness (HBO). Training: M.F.A. (Penn State). Website: CecilBlutcherCreates.com

About The Civilians

Founded in 2001, The Civilians is dedicated to making new theater at the intersections of art and real life. Its signature work is "investigative theater," projects created through field research, community collaborations, and other methods of in-depth inquiry. Centered in a group of Associate Artists, the company also works with the theater field as a whole. Shows originated by The Civilians include Anne Washburn's Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, Lucas Hnath's Dana H., José Rivera's Another Word for Beauty, and many works with composer Michael Friedman: Gone Missing, Pretty Filthy, Paris Commune and more. The Civilians has participated in several BAM Next Wave Festivals, has been produced at many major regional and Off-Broadway theaters, and was the first theater company to be Artist-in-Residence at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. With Ghostlight Records, The Michael Friedman Recording Project is creating nine albums of our founding member's works. To hear the first five albums, visit here. The company supports a number of emerging and established artists each year through its new work programs which include the R&D Group new works lab, and a cabaret series of new musicals. The Civilians produces a podcast on SoundCloud; publishes Extended Play, an online journal about its work and the broader theater field; and sustains an active Education Program. www.thecivilians.org
Link http://www.thecivilians.org

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