• Image by Umi Akiyoshi

Séancers

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Séancers: noun. plural an ensemble of mediums who convene to receive spirit communications; to make contact with the non-living. “What does it mean to defend the dead? To tend to the Black dead and dying: to tend to the Black person, to Black people, always living in the push toward our death?” – Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being Setting the fugitive experience afforded Black people on fire with majesty, opulence, and agency, Séancers is an auto-ethnographic performance work that collapses lyrical poetry, psychic movement forms and strategies of discursive performance to investigate concepts of loss, resurrection, and paranormal activity. Interrogating issues related to American history, coloniality, and structural oppression, Séancers journeys into the surreal and fantastical states of a Black imagination as it traverses the ‘fatal’ axis of abstraction, illegibility, identity, and gender complexity. The work locates itself inside the spiritual, emotional, and theoretical world via the live performances of sound artist Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste and experimental artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, with special guest theorists who will help frame the witnessing of each performance.

Creative Team & Credits:
Creation, Concept, Performance, and Installation Design: Jaamil Olawale Kosoko
Dramaturg: Emily Reilly
Séancers: Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko and special Guest* (TBD)
Sound Design, Engineering, Technical Support, and Performance: Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste Performance Doulas: Imma Asher, M. Lamar, Jennifer Kidwell
Poetry & Text: “Power” by Audre Lorde, “Heelz On” and “Entertainer” by Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Ruby Sales’s monologue from “Where Does It Hurt”, “On Being” with Krista Tippett
Stage: Jaamil Olawale Kosoko w/ Devin N. Morris
Costume Design and Fabrication: Jaamil Olawale Kosoko
Costume Fabrication Assistants: SaVonne Whitfield, Simone Duff
Lighting Design: Serena Wong
Production Manager: Sarah Lurie
North America Tour Manager: Sarah Bishop-Stone

Séancers is made possible through generous residency support from Abrons Art Center, Bennington College, Casa Na Ilha Art Residence in Brazil, FringeArts, pOnderosa Movement and Discovery, and Haverford College with additional funding support from MAP Fund, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Princeton Arts Fellowship, the Jerome Foundation, and independent donors and friends of Jaamil Olawale Kosoko. Séancers was created with commission support from Abrons Arts Center and Danspace Project. Special thanks to Marica De Michele, Mersiha Mesihovic, Kate Watson-Wallace, Susan Sgorbati, Sarah Bishop-Stone, American Dance Abroad, Ben Pryor and American Realness, Headlong, The Amazing Creative Team including IMMA for your fierce vulnerability over the past few years and continued support of the work both physically and spiritually, Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste for your endless dedication, Ben Ginsberg, Devin N. Morris, Simone Duff, Emily Reilly, Alyssa Gersony, Andrew Amorim, Amanda Jensen, Jenn Kidwell, Kimya Imani Jackson, Kate McGee, Serena Wong, Megan Lang, Eli Reid, Craig Peterson and Ali Rosas-Salas. Thank you Danspace Project, Will Rawls and Ishmael Houston Jones for curating an early seed of this work as part of the Platform ‘Lost and Found’ in 2016. Performance Theorists Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Thomas DeFrantz, Christina Knight, Maboula Soumahoro, M. Lamar, Autumn Knight, Ebony Noelle Golden, Okwui Okpokwasili, and Che Gossett. Additional thanks to Bete, Anna, Ron, and the amazing team at Fusebox.

From Fusebox
In Séancers, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko is the medium, conjuring histories, from the personal to the autobiographical, that explore how the contemporary black experience is inextricable from the wake of transatlantic slavery. Kosoko relives his personal losses, as well as cultural losses, spectres that haunt and shape the present. He is accompanied each night by a different local guest, whom he calls a Séancer, and together they make sacred the ritual, and frame what unfolds. This is a treatise, a performance, and a communal gathering, making contact with one another and with those who came before.

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