Kaneza Schaal & Cornell Alston

May 10 - 13, 2018

$23 | $30 WEEK OF • BUY TICKETS Merrill Wright Mainstage

Thu, May 10–Fri, May 11 at 8 pm
Sat, May 12*–Sun, May 13 at 5 pm 

Tickets for Thu, May 10 are sold out online. A wait list will be started by the Lobby Box Office one hour before showtime; must be present in person to sign up

*The Saturday, May 12th performance of JACK & now begins at 5 pm. JACK & is a performance centering those navigating transitions out of prison and youth involved in the juvenile detention system. Starting the performance at 5 pm makes it more accessible to these audiences and their families.  

JACK & is a comedy of errors structured on social codes and trainings, from prison reentry programs to African American debutante balls. Conceived and directed by Kaneza Schaal, a veteran performer with Elevator Repair Service and The Wooster Group, JACK & combines influences from aspirational class stories found in 1950s sitcoms, real and imagined entering-society ceremonies, and tigers in Harlem to build a portrait of a dream interrupted and resumed. Exploring markers of transition and transformation, JACK & considers the measureless damages of being in prison—not the amount of time one has served but the amount of one’s dreaming that is given to the state.


“Jack” works the night shift at an industrial bakery. He returns home to bake a cake for his wife “Jill”; “Jack” ends up whirling through a dance—part dream, part ritual—re-entering his own internal life. 


Starring Cornell Alston, a long-time member of Rehabilitation Through the Arts, JACK & features a set designed by artist Christopher Myers and live music by musician and composer Rucyl Mills. 


Led by Brooklyn-based theater artists Kaneza Schaal and Cornell Alston, the JACK & team is also working with On the Boards to build creative exchange in conjunction with local initiatives. The JACK & team has partnered with organizations from Juvenile Detention Centers, to transitional housing, to county re-entry programs.


JACK & is traveling to over seven states. In each city the company leads workshops, roundtable discussions, and performs the production. After each JACK & performance, the artists will host a cake reception and discussion with the audience to collectively consider recipes that rebuild dreaming.  


Learn more about the reentry community connections in Seattle. 


Related Programs

Thu, May 10–Sun, May 13
After all performances, there will be a cake reception and audience discussion to collectively consider recipes that rebuild dreaming.

Thu, May 10
Studio Supper with Kristi Brown (That Brown Girl Cooks!
Sign up for the Studio Supper email list to know when reservations open up for this dinner. (Reservations can only be made via the form sent out in this email.)

Sun, May 13
Onsite workshop/childcare with Sweet Pea Cottage Preschool of the Arts (Studio Theater). The theme of the May 13 workshop is The theme of the May  13 workshop is MAGIC IS IN THE AIR; kids will use their imagination to generate the story of a magical journey to a fantastical land, where they make new friends along the way. (Must reserve in advance; if this is your first time purchasing childcare, you can see the show for free! Learn more)


Kaneza Schaal is a New York City-based theater artist. Her recent work GO FORTH premiered at Performance Space New York and then showed at the Genocide Memorial Amphitheater in Kigali, Rwanda. In Fall 2017 GO FORTH was presented at Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans and in Cairo, Egypt at the International Contemporary Theater Festival. Schaal received a 2017 MAP Fund award, 2016 Creative Capital Award, and is the current Aetna New Voices Fellow at Hartford Stage. Schaal’s work has been supported by Baryshnikov Arts Center, Performance Space New York, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Theater Communications Group, and a Princess Grace George C. Wolfe Award. Her work with The Wooster Group, Elevator Repair Service, Richard Maxwell/New York City Players, Claude Wampler, and Dean Moss has brought her to venues including Centre Pompidou, Royal Lyceum Theater Edinburgh, The Whitney Museum, and Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Cornell Alston is a longtime member of Rehabilitation Through the Arts, a not-for-profit that uses the arts as a springboard to teach life skills to individuals both inside and outside of state correctional facilities. He initiated the Youth Empowerment Through the Arts initiative that launched in Queens NY, and he continues to work as an arts-in-education advocate. Alston performed and collaborated with Kaneza Schaal on PLEASE, BURY ME at Baryshnikov Arts Center and GO FORTH during a Performance Space 122, RAMP residency. Other performance highlights include: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 12 Angry Men, and the title role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Christopher Myers (DESIGN & TEXT) is an artist and writer who lives in Brooklyn. While he is widely acclaimed for his work with literature for young people, he is also an accomplished fine artist who has lectured and exhibited internationally. He writes, “I’ve been asking the question lately, ‘What does it mean to be an artist whose work is rooted in the experience of global cultural exchange?’” More than the simple small-world market-driven exchanges that mark some artists, whose practices are rooted in the anthropological or outsourcing models of cultural exchange, he is interested in the aesthetic bridges that have been built organically across cultures, classes, and geographies, and has been creating work in those in-between spaces for years. His practice can be divided into two categories: work by his own hands that lives in the syncretic, the hybrid, and the improvised; and collaborations with artisans from around the globe, extending the conversation of cultural movement across continents and artistic milieus. He has worked with traditional shadow puppet makers in Jogjakarta, silver-smiths in Khartoum, conceptual video artists in Vietnam, young musicians in New Orleans, woodcarvers in Accra, weavers in Luxor, and many other artists, who he sees as all being part of one large conversation about the movement of culture, and the ways that languages are borrowed globally, traded from South to South, in order to address the specific local concerns of people that have been thrust into contexts that range far beyond their locality. Myers received a Caldecott Honor for his book Harlem and a Coretta Scott King Honor for Black Cat. His most recent books include Firebird (Coretta Scott King Award winner) written by Misty Copeland, Jake Makes a World written by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, and My Pen written by himself. The Kennedy Center has adapted three of Myers’ books to the stage for young audiences. His sculptural work has been shown at PS1-MoMA, Contrasts Gallery in Shanghai, and the Prospect Biennial in New Orleans; and his film work at the Sundance Film Festival.

Rucyl Mills (SOUND) is a sonic new media artist. Her work revolves around a live experimentation performance process, centering sound as a medium to represent non-tactile concepts like time, emotion, identity, and physics. During her live performances she uses MIDI controllers, loopers, and effects processors, often with accompanying visual vignettes composed of found footage and abstract personal video. 



JACK & is a project of Creative Capital, the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Project, and The Map Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by the Contemporary Arts Center (Cincinnati) in partnership with On The Boards (Seattle), Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), REDCAT (Los Angeles), and NPN; a commission by Hartford Stage through the Aetna New Voices Fellowship; and with support from BRIClab, the Baryshnikov Arts Center, and THE LUMBERYARD.

JACK & is presented with funding from WESTAF’s TourWest program, which is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. This performance has also received funding from the National Performance Network, the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Theater Project, Robert Chinn Foundation, and ArtsWA. 

On the Boards’ season is supported by the Boeing Company, Garneau-Nicon Family Foundation, Microsoft, The Tulalip Tribe, and ArtsFund.