I had an uplifting experience recently and I need to share it. I have to tell you about my experience at the Public Theater in Joe’s Pub! I had a beyond excellent time and I need to tell you why! It was because I went to see Black Light. I was fortunate enough to get to attend a preview engagement before the general showing. I felt so honored to be one of the first people to enjoy this show.
The Public Theater is responsible for the great program that happens every Summer in NYC for Shakespeare in the Park. But this is their permanent home in the East Village. Joe’s Pub is an intimate gastropub inside the theater, where the performance took place, everyone, is pretty close to the stage no matter where you sit. It’s basically a dinner theater cabaret setting. And the size is just right for the back forth participation that happens during the performance.
What Is The Story Behind Black Light?
My experience with theater is unfortunately by New York City terms, limited. I’m working on it though, a goal for 2018. I can say with this evening, it has inspired my need to become a better storyteller.
The creator of this show is Daniel Alexander Jones, he also co-wrote the songs as Jomama Jones with Laura Jean Anderson. The show takes us on a journey time traveling back and forth through time to tell the story of growing up Black in the United States, as his alter ego the magnetic and commanding Jomama Jones, the star of the show. The music uses influences from the sixties, seventies, and the eighties.
Jomama Jones is statuesque and glowing and with loads of sauce on the stage. The cabaret show is taken from the perspective of Jomama Jones and her upbringing and references her relatives from Summers in the south and how it relates to current events, like the President, racism, the civil rights movement, homophobia and how it has shaped the Black experience in this country. If you are uncomfortable with being challenged about your privilege, then sit this one out. The magic and resilience that continued in her family stories when even though at first look there was nothing there but sadness. Jomama explains how it drew her inspiration to keep fighting in these turbulent times. On the Public Theater’s website, this blurb wraps it up perfectly.
Daniel Alexander Jones returns to Joe’s Pub as Jomama Jones, his critically-acclaimed alter-ego, in BLACK LIGHT. Commissioned as part of Joe’s Pub’s New York Voices program, BLACK LIGHT is a revival for turbulent times. Jomama leads an intimate journey – through the darkness of personal and political upheaval, and the shards of shattered illusions – illuminated by spontaneous humor and what The New Yorker calls her “very particular radiance.” BLACK LIGHT draws musical influence from Prince, Sade, Diana Ross, and Tina Turner, and is marked significantly by the Black American Freedom movement, Afromysticism, goddess mythology and divination. This immersive performance piece removes the barrier between artist and audience through inquiry, story and song.
The energy in the room was electric and Jomama Jones was perfect as a 2018’s version of Diana Ross with multiple costume changes, in between conversation with the crowd. I loved the way that you were pulled into the story and there was no one who dared to break the spell that was put on us by the music and the tale that was spun.
I didn’t get enough live footage to make it into the blog post because I was so caught up in the performance. But I have a blurry filmed snippet. So you’ll have to just take my word for it. If you are blessed to be in the New York area, please catch this gem at the Public Theater, at 425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan. You can catch the show until March 25th, 2018.
Have you seen a show recently? Which one? And tell me if it was worth it, in the comments below. I can’t wait to read all about it.
Until our next rendezvous …