David M. White
playwright. director. scholar.
I marvel at A Love Supreme each time I hear it, which as of late has been quite often.
The script is equally transcendent in its openness, clarity, and genius.
The piece of music is 33m 07s long…the script is one page.
You can currently see the score in person at the Smithsonian Museum of American History,
but with this version you can zoom in.
It’s an honor to get to share Dance On Bones with the Festival of American Culture at the Ilkhom Theater of Mark Weil in Tashket, Uzbekistan which runs from April 24th – May 11th. Three new American plays are part of the festival: Dance On Bones, Mark Chrisler‘s “Worse than Tigers” andCaridad Svich‘s “Archipelago.”
Dance On Bones paints a picture of a world very like our own, in which sea levels are rising, trees are being ravaged, and jazz may be the only thing that can save the world. Dance On Bones is is inspired by and structured around jazz music and riffs off of the folklore of the jazz scenes in St. Petersburg, Russia and New Orleans, Louisiana; creation myths; the folklore of flooding cities; and current environmental circumstances washing away our shores. Dance on Bones has the ability to be shuffled into hundreds of different variations, pushing the artists to improvise and audiences to make new connections with each presentation.
Research into Dance On Bones included a Cultural Fellowship in St. Petersburg, Russia, supported by the Likhachev Foundation, funded by The Foundation of the First President of Russia Boris N. Yeltsin and the Committee of External Relations of St. Petersburg.
Since that time, I have continued developing Dance On Bones with Generous Company and at the Towson Theatre Lab in the Department of Theatre Arts at Towson University.
Last week I made a journey down to Texas to attack my writing (I’m getting tired of “retreats” so I will begin calling my focused writing times attacks/offensives) at the Spooky Action Ranch outside of Austin, Texas in hill country. Founded by Dawn Youngs and Kurt Hildebrand, Spooky Action Ranch’s home, garden, and land were a marvelous place to spend time.
I spent four days at the Ranch, walking, writing in the wild, getting a bit too much sun, writing inside, prepping for readings of four episodes of Last Chance: tales from a broken heartland. Last Chance is a theatre serial about life in rural America (probably the Ozarks). There are twelve episodes in the series and after giving me the time, focus, and opportunity to sink my teeth into revising and imagining we presented two episodes a night over two nights at The Vortex and The Hideout.
Night one at the Vortex Trash and Cut Once were read in the Vortex’s courtyard by Sergio Alvaredo (Bob), Zac Crofford (Stage Directions), Barbara Chrisholm Faires (Dottie), Robert Faires (Winter), Judd Farris (Stage Directions), Kayla Olsen (Melissa), Dawn Youngs (Jo Beth).
Night two at the HIdeout Ninjas & Squirrels and Measure Twice were read by Sergio Alvaredo (Palmer), Zac Crofford (Blam), Barbara Chrisholm Faires (Stage Directions), Robert Faires (Winter), Judd Farris (Sexton), Michelle Keffer (Amanda), Dawn Youngs (Jo Beth), and a guest stage directions read by yours truly.
The thoughts, feedback, and encouragement I received from the artists and audiences in Austin helped to stoke my interest in bringing Last Chance to life as theatre? as a podcast series? as an immersive experience? Thanks for showing me that this work should be given voice, no matter what the form.
Here’s a few links to articles about roentgenizdat:
- Roentgenizdat: Sentimental Songs on X-Ray
- Roentgenizdat: X-Ray Bones Jazz Recordings
- Samples of roentgenizdat: banned Western music engraved onto…
- Rock on ribs
Records on bones typically cost about 1.5 rubles…very inexpensive.
Up to 3,000,000 records may have been distributed on X-ray up through 1958.
Here’s a few more references:
- Joshua Rothman, “You spin me right round, like an X-ray,” The Boston Globe, 20 March 2011.
- “Jazz on Bones: X-Ray Sound Recordings,” Street Use, 28 August 2006.
- Artemy Troitsky, Back in the USSR: The True Story of Rock in Russia, (Omnibus Press: 1987).
And here’s a link to a collection of photos and a video. If you click on the image of the X-ray being cut, you can see a video of them making a new Dance on Bones recording.
This interview on NPR about Dizzy Gillespie’s work as a Cultural Ambassador for the U.S..
There’s also a book by Lisa Davenport: Jazz Diplomacy: Promoting America in the Cold War Era
A website detailing specific jazz ambassadors from the Meridian International Center’s exhibit: “Jam Session: America’s Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World” (2008)
An article from the New York Times: When Ambassadors Had Rhythm
A blog post critiquing the practice of Jazz Diplomacy in the 21st century.
And a blog entry by students at London Metropolitan University on “Public and Cultural Diplomacy 3:” Jazz Diplomacy and the Cold War