Project& and Jane M Saks were the Creative Engagement and Presenting Collaborator with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA) on JACK &, a comedy of errors structured on social codes and trainings from prison reentry programs to African-American debutante balls, conceived/directed by veteran performer, Kaneza Schaal. Schaal builds a portrait of a dream interrupted and resumed: the odyssey of a man incarcerated for 30+ years. The performance considers the metric-less damages of being in prison. JACK & premiered at the MCA in May 2018. As collaborator, Project& developed engaged conversations with organizations and individuals working in justice reform, the justice system, artists, advocates and post-incarcerated individuals across Chicago. These dialogues catalyzed both personal relationships with and access to JACK & that will have far-reaching impact on the intersection of justice work and art.
JACK & is a comedy of errors structured on social codes and trainings, from prison reentry programs to African American debutante balls. Conceived and directed by Kaneza Schaal, a veteran Elevator Repair Service and The Wooster Group performer, the performance interweaves such diverse influences as the aspirational class stories found in 1950s sitcoms, real and imagined entering-society ceremonies, and tigers in Harlem to build a portrait of a dream interrupted and resumed. In the performance, “Jack” returns home from working the night shift at an industrial bakery to make a cake for his wife, “Jill.” He ends up whirling through a dance that is part dream, part ritual of reentry into his own internal life. Exploring markers of transition and transformation, and the liminal ritual spaces that bridge worlds, JACK & considers the measureless damages of being in prison—not the amount of time one has served but the amount of one’s dreaming that is given to the state.
Starring Cornell Alston, a long-time member of Rehabilitation Through the Arts, JACK & features a set designed by artist Christopher Myers, which transforms from comedy club to kitchen to ballroom stage. Live music by musician and composer Rucyl Mills animates and contours the three-act story.