A cathartic journey of identity, public image, and aspiration, PUSHERS is a powerful dance-theater performance examining addiction and its consequences, created by Iquail Shaheed and his company using the stories of nine youth from the Mantua neighborhood of West Philadelphia as a jumping off point in this new work. In PUSHERS, Shaheed uses his athletic yet fluid style to convey the voids we fill through addictions of all kinds and our society’s constant need for validation. This new work is accompanied by original poetry by New York City-based story teller Daniel Carlton and music by composer Charles Vincent Burwell.
San Francisco, CA native, Charles Vincent Burwell began his musical training with the piano at age seven. A Congressional Scholar in Leadership, Burwell received a B.S. in Choral Music Education from Florida A & M University and his M.F.A. in Musical Theater Writing as a recipient of the Robert Tisch Graduate Fellowship at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Organizations that he has worked with include: the Lincoln Center Institute, City Center, the Katherine Dunham Institute, Trenton Educational Dance Institute (TEDI), National Dance Institute, Urban Bush Women, Festival del Caribe (Santiago de Cuba, Cuba), Ile Aiye (Salvador de Bahia, Brazil), and Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. He has composed music for the Cairo Opera House Ballet (Cairo, Egypt), National Dance Institute under the Artistic Direction of Jacques d’Amboise (Shanghai, China), and has sung at Carnegie Hall, (New York, NY). Burwell has served as musician/teaching artist for National Dance Institute, associate musical director for the Trenton Educational Institute, and is on half of the writing team of Burwell & Sasser. Burwell & Sasser, having had their theatrical works developed by TheaterWorks Silicon Valley, Village Theater Issaquah, CAP 21, and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts among others, are members of the National Alliance of Musical Theater (NAMT). Burwell’s music has been featured in the HBO documentary: Jacques D’Amboise in China -THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD directed by Anthony Avildsen (2008). In addition, he is co-founder of the Prophecy Music Project – a multifaceted collection of professional creative and performing artist.
Burwell currently serves on the faculty at The Ailey School, home of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
As a creative artist, I tend to be drawn to work that implies a greater social relevance; work that serves as a looking glass into the complexities of the human narrative. With Pushers, I see the opportunity to look beneath the sheets of the, perhaps ill-conceived, “War on Drugs” and recognize the perspectives of those who have been left in its wake. I hope to present perspectives that are as layered as the (often oversimplified) concept of addiction and how it relates to the psyche of the vast majority Americans in one way or another. It is my belief that in recognizing that the intricacies of addiction extend well beyond the confines of “inner city drug use” per se, we’ll begin to better understand the origins of the epidemic and, perhaps, conspire to combat it.
Daniel Carlton is an actor, writer, teacher, storyteller, and director who has appeared on New York, national, and international stages. Daniel has written or directed many plays about or for young people. As a teaching artist he has used theater as a tool to conduct thousands of workshops over the years inareas that include youth leadership, conflict resolution, A.I.D.S prevention, housing readiness to homeless families, and teacher training for The N.Y.C Board Of Education. He has done extensive work in this area through companies that include Hospital Audiences Inc., New York University’s Creative Arts Team, Community Works, Blackberry Productions, Flying Bridge Community Arts, The Paramount Theatre of Peekskill, Faison Firehouse Theater, Goddard Riverside, The Negro Ensemble Company, The Dwyer Cultural Center of Harlem, and the Weeksville Historical Society.
Acting credits include : The Meeting ( Malcolm X), Scribbling at The Automat ( James Baldwin), Dreaming In Tongues ( Labyrinth Theater Company( The Dreamer) and Chasing Heaven ( NYC Fringe Festival).
As a storyteller he has toured extensively with his “ The Eagle In Harlem And Other Tales” He is currently on the roster of Summerstage NYC artists as a storyteller. Older projects include “The Children Of War Theatre Project (Dir. Larry Sacharow), which tells the stories of war refugees; It has been performed in Moscow ( Russia), Sarajevo( Bosnia ), San Francisco, Amsterdam, Cambodia, and The Asia Society (NYC).
“Timeless Journeys” a series of seven fictional monologues based on the actual history of free AfricanAmericans in Brooklyn, NY was commissioned by The Weeksville Heritage Society for both onsite performances and theatrical performances to highlight the story of this National Landmark. Co-authored”A Whistle in Mississippi -the life and death of Emmett Till( currently touring) The Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture has presented his play “The Dream Inn based on the poetry of Langston Hughes, and frequently uses him to conduct workshops around the poet’s work. During the summer of2002 he helped to create a theatre lab at the WindyBrow Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is the primary playwright of “Shelter; Refugees of The American Dream, which was produced by Blackberry Productions. Creation? His multi –character solo show has been seen both locally and nationally.” His verse play”Pig foot Mary Says Goodbye To The Harlem Renaissance “, was produced by The Metropolitan Playhouse (January 2011) and has since toured schools and is presented as one of the touring shows of The Negro Ensemble Company . He received a commission from Jazzmobile , The New School for Jazz studies, Summerstage , and the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival to write and perform a multimedia verse play “When Smalls Had It All” A tribute to the former Jazz club in Harlem, Small’s Paradise for the Harlem Jazz Shrine’s Festival and The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival of 2012. Performed at The New School for Jazz Studies ( Full jazz band.-classics and original tunes by composer Claudia Hayden) and a section entitled “On The Wings Of A Yard Bird at Marcus Garvey Park’s Richard Roger’s Amphitheater for the 2oth anniversary of The Charlie Parker Jazz Festival. “Latest commission ( Blackberry Productions ) isa storytelling concert titled “ March On”. It is based on the true stories of people who attended the 1963 March On Washington that also incorporates the music before , during , or inspired by the march.March On in its early development has already reached thousands of school aged young people, senior citizens , and many other audiences co presented by Blackberry Productions in partnerships with The Healing Arts Imitative and Community Works at venues that include Aron Davis Hall, York College, FirstCorinthians Baptist Church, and many New York City Public High Schools. His poetry book “ The Eagle In Harlem, Haiku and Other Afro bits “ is available on Amazon ( Kindle or apps).
This is his 2nd project for Dance Iquail ( Previously the dramaturg anc contributing writer for “Black Swan” )
Newton began his theatre arts and production/technology career at The Hedgerow theatre in Rose Valley PA. There he honed his craft in acting, directing, lighting and sound design. As an actor he has over thirty production credits with Hedgerow Theatre Company. He also holds many lighting design and sound design credits from Hegderow Theatre, Curio Theatre, Painted Bride Art Center, and Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental. His memorable credits include “Student 3” in the Philly premiere of “Shakespeare’s R&J” with Mauckingbird Theatre Company, “Judah” in “Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Devon Theatre (For which he holds a Barrymore nomination). When he is not working in the arts he works at The Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia as a Simulation Technician, Helping provide a safe learning experience for the current and future doctors of the world.
He hopes to see the Pushers project turned into a much larger and wider reaching project. Theatre artseducation could be an outlet for them where so few options and resources are available. The pushers project has the potential to spark an interest in a world they never knew was available.
Tarell Alvin McCraney is a playwright exploring the rich diversity of the African American experience in works that imbue the lives of ordinary people with epic significance. Complementing his poetic, intimate language with a musical sensibility and rhythmic, often ritualistic movement, McCraney transforms intentionally minimalist stages into worlds marked by metaphor and imagery. His most well-known works, a triptych collectively titled The Brother/Sister Plays (2009), weave West African Yoruban cosmology into modern-day stories of familial self-sacrifice, unrequited love, and coming of age. The audience becomes an essential part of the story as the characters speak their stage directions and inner feelings directly to the viewers. In Head of Passes (2013) and Choir Boy (2012), McCraney draws on themes that run throughout the Book of Job and traditional spirituals, respectively, to explore the role of faith and tradition in two very different close-knit worlds. Head of Passes, set in the isolated marshlands of the Mississippi River Delta, dramatizes a matriarch’s struggle to maintain her faith as her world literally falls apart around her. In Choir Boy, students at an elite boarding school remain united in their dedication to performing traditional spirituals even as they navigate the fraught nature of adolescent self-expression.
In addition to writing new works, McCraney is committed to bringing theatre to elementary and secondary school students, particularly in underserved communities in his hometown of Miami. His ninety-minute adaptation of Hamlet (2010), an intense, condensed version of the play set within a contemporized historical context, employs a visually explosive, expressive staging that engages audiences of all ages, whether or not they have a previous familiarity with Shakespeare. In telling stories that are simultaneously contemporary and universal, McCraney is demonstrating to new and younger audiences the ability of theatre to evoke a sense of our shared humanity and emerging as an important voice in American theatre.
Tarell McCraney received a B.F.A. (2003) from DePaul University and an M.F.A. (2007) from Yale University. In 2013 he was awarded a MacAurthur Genius Award in support of his work. He was the International Writer in Residence for the Royal Shakespeare Company (2008–2010), where he remains an associate artist, and a Hodder Fellow at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University (2009) before becoming an ensemble member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 2010. He is also a resident playwright at New Dramatists and a member of Teo Castellanos D-Projects in Miami. His additional plays include Wig Out! (2008) and American Trade (2011), and his works have been performed at such venues as the Public Theater, the McCarter Theatre at Princeton University, the Young Vic (London), and Steppenwolf Theatre.
Workshops – Pushers
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Behind the scenes – Pushers