Awardee: Kaneza Schaal

Performing Arts, 2016

Kaneza Schaal is a New York City-based theater artist invested in research-based processes. Most recently, this work has taken her to temples and tombs in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan, and community arts organizations in Vietnam. Schaal has worked with The Wooster Group, Elevator Repair Service, Richard Maxwell/New York City Players, Claude Wampler, Jay Scheib, Jim Findlay, New York City Opera, Lars Jan, and at venues including The Whitney Museum, BAM, The Kitchen, Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York Theater Workshop, St. Ann’s Warehouse and in over 18 countries. She received a 2015 Bogliasco Fellowship. Schaal was a member of Kara Walker’s 6–8 Months Space and has given talks at Wesleyan University, River-to-River Festival, and with Cornell Alston at Yale University, on prison and the arts. Schaal’s new work, Go Forth, is a translation into performance of The Egyptian Book of the Dead and premiered in Performance Space 122’s COIL Festival.

Project: JACK &

JACK& is a multimedia comedy of errors. Using the writings of Psychiatrist R.D. Laing, JACK& is a duet for two actors ensnared in dialogue exchanges that become mental tongue twisters, and draws on infamous comedy duos with artists such as Buster Keaton, Elaine May, and Flip Wilson. A performance of social codes, the production is structured around social trainings from prison re-entry programs to debutante balls. From truth & reconciliation commissions, to the USA prison crisis, to questions of immigration and migration, the twenty first century has demanded and provided new models for how to train and un-train humans to successfully co-exist. JACK& entertains the impasses, whirlpools, and complexities of this training.

Schaal and Alston’s mutual commitment to experimentation in theater brought them to their second long-term collaboration. Previous research considered the performance demands of being in prison, how these languages are stored in the body, and their effect on re-entry to society. JACK& will be developed through workshops with people who used the arts while in prison.