In Solo Multimedia Performance, Baba Israel Explores Legacy of His Father steve ben israel, Countercultural Activist and Living Theatre Alum
The Spinning Wheel
Written and Performed by Baba Israel
Directed by Leo Kay
Music and Sound Design by Yako 440
January 8, 9, 15 & 16 at 8pm
BRIC House (647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn)
$15 in advance / $18 at the door
BRIC is pleased to present the world premiere of The Spinning Wheel, an explosive multimedia performance, along with an interactive gallery exhibition, by hip hop theater artist and musician Baba Israel. Created in collaboration with UK based director Leo Kay and musician Yako 440, The Spinning Wheel remixes and reinterprets the 50-year legacy of Israel’s late father, steve ben israel (1938–2012), a political activist and member of The Living Theatre, an iconic, avant-garde theater group. Through spoken word, video, and live music, Baba Israel not only animates the radical, countercultural impulses of New York City during the 1960s and ‘70s, but also, lovingly pays tribute to his father.
steve ben israel was a New York jazz musician, poet, stand-up comic, political activist and core member of The Living Theatre. Israel 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 New York. Back home, he worked to organize the release of other members of The Living Theatre who were still jailed in Brazil. His was a life committed to liberation.
steve ben israel passed away in 2012, leaving behind a legacy of 1960s countercultural work and artifacts, an enormous archive, and a son – New York Hip Hop theatre artist, Baba Israel. Drawing on his father’s rich material for contextual inspiration and audio-visual content, Baba Israel relays fascinating and humorous stories of the past—using personal anecdotes of growing up on the road with his father to reframe the socio-political movements of the 1960s and ‘70s. Within The Spinning Wheel’s trajectory, Israel shares how he discovered his own passion for performing and the important role theater and music can play in responding to challenging times and real-world issues.
The Spinning Wheel remixes past and present to explore human vulnerability and political integrity from the perspective of a son who both celebrates his father’s life while still mourning his death. The show reunites both family members and, in doing so, inspires us to look to the generations before us—and be transformed by those legacies we inherit.
The creative team for The Spinning Wheel also includes dramaturg Talvin Wilks and video artist Richard Ramchurn.
Performances of The Spinning Wheel will take place January 8–16 (see schedule above) at BRIC House, located at 647 Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn. Tickets are $15 in advance / $18 at the door and can be purchased by visiting BRICartsmedia.org or by calling OvationTix at 866.811.4111.
In conjunction with the January 8–16 performances, The Spinning Wheel will include a related exhibition of original posters, poetry and photography by steve ben israel, prints by renowned political activist and artist Eric Drooker, original stencil work and collage by Yako 440, and original posters and photographic prints from steve ben israel’s time with the Living Theatre in the 1960s and ‘70s. The exhibit features an interactive installation created by video artist Richard Ramchurn that uses wireless brain scanners to allow the visitor to subconsciously manipulate video content and take an intimate, one-of-a-kind journey through the archive material used in the creation of The Spinning Wheel performances, all while sitting inside a replica of steve ben israel’s den. The exhibition is curated by Baba Israel and Yako 440 and runs January 9–29, with an opening reception taking place January 8 from 6-8pm.
Three large murals inspired by the poems of steve ben israel and created by artists Viajero, Cern and Yako 440 have been commissioned for the hallways of BRIC House and will use a combination of graffiti techniques and other materials.