Unfinished Business in association with Baba Israel presents:
The Spinning Wheel
By animating a body of work spanning nearly five decades Baba Israel celebrates the extraordinary life of his late father steve ben israel, in an intimate depiction of grief, legacy and paternal relationships directed by Leo Kay
TOURING NATIONALLY, 13 – 25 November 2014
mac Birmingham 25 November 8pm
Told through a blend of spoken word, hip hop, live music and video art, theatre makers Baba Israel and Leo Kay create a portrait of the unique and vibrant life of Baba’s father steve ben israel; the New York-based Beat poet, jazz musician, countercultural activist, stand-up comedian and core member of the iconic performance collective The Living Theatre. Drawn from his extensive archive, conversations with his collaborators and research into his favourite haunts, the work explores the resonance of steve ben’s pacifist politics and beliefs, in relation to today’s culture, examining the significance of legacy inherited by a second generation.
steve ben practiced what he called performance life and found his inspiration by bringing his politics and comedy into the streets, subways, and protests of New York. One of his stand out ‘performance life’ moments came when he escaped 1970's Brazil dressed as a woman and improvised his way through airport security to return to NY, where he worked to organise the release of the members of The Living Theatre who were still in jail there. His was a life committed to liberation.
Co-creator and performer Baba Israel said, “Our process has taken us to New York, England, and back. The Spinning Wheel animates a 50 year archive of poetic, humorous, and politically charged material and brings it into dialogue with a stripped back exploration of grieving and the relationship between a father and a son.”
The Spinning Wheel was developed in April this year with support from both the UK and the US, and features live music from hip-hop artist Yako 440, video art from Richard Ramchurn, creative director of AV design company AlbinoMosquito, and visual art by painter and graphic artist Eric Drooker.
Co-creator and director Leo Kay said, “Baba and I share a strong cultural and political affinity, and it's been incredibly exciting to explore how we can integrate our practices to create an original and authentic voice for this work. The Spinning Wheel integrates the autobiographical and intimate performance style present in current Unfinished Business practice, with Baba's spoken word prowess, Hip Hop inspired performance and improvisation experience.”
Baba Israel is a theatre maker and hip-hop artist, born and raised in New York. His varied career has seen him on stage with the likes of Outkast, The Roots, Rahzel, Lester Bowie, Afrika Bambaataa, Vernon Reid and Bill Cosby. His directorial work includes the Project 2050 (New World Theatre), Countryboy Struggle (Maxwell Golden) and (Sharpening SAWDS).
Leo Kay is a UK based theatre maker, who has been creating performance for over 20 years. In 2010 he founded Unfinished Business, (alongside producer Anna Smith) a London based performance company to tour his signature solo: It's Like He's Knocking. The company continues to produce original theatre and live art, which focuses on participation, intimacy and socio-political engagement, developing radical new ways for audiences and artists to engage with one another. Leo has also directed many performances featuring spoken word, most recently If Walls Could Speak by Mohammed Ali (Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham, UK) and Old Me by Polarbear (Roundhouse, London, UK).
The Spinning Wheel is supported by Theatre in the Mill, Arts Council England and BRIC House (NY).
Running Time: 70 mins approx | Suitable for Ages: 12+