Howze’s Self Portraits, Which He Describes as His Most “Personal Project to Date,” Leads Viewers Across a Landscape of Humanity Expressed Through Small, Profound, Theatrical Moments that Frame and Reframe the Black Body in America Today
Phillip Howze: Self Portraits
Directed by Stevie Walker-Webb
Performances at BRIC House (647 Fulton St., Brooklyn)
April 23 (preview) and April 24-27, 2019
FREE | RSVP at BRICartsmedia.org/selfportraits starting APR 9
BRIC, celebrating 40 years as the leading presenter of free cultural programming in Brooklyn, announces the world premiere of acclaimed playwright Phillip Howze’s multidisciplinary play Self Portraits (April 24-27), an intimate, impressionistic collection of personal meditations framing and reframing the Black body in America today. In the midst of the BRIC OPEN—BRIC’s annual arts and ideas festival—Howze’s new work will activate the space in unconventional ways, using the organs of a theater to interrogate the boundaries of form and the limits of bodies, to witness together what’s seen and what’s often imperceptible. Described by Howze as his “most personal work to date…born from a spirit of intentional disruption and curiosity,” Self Portraits both explodes theatricality beyond the proscenium while imploding it into intimate, ghostly, separately enacted fragments.
A man on a mountaintop confronts the fear of his own mortality. A mother instructs her son to be more careful walking the streets. A video shares a terrifying truth. Self Portraits is a site-driven theatrical event made up of intimate, experiential moments. This inventive new play reframes the political as personal to reflect on the unpredictable state of the Black body in America. Suspended at the edge of confrontation and contemplation, beauty and brutality, together these theatrical portraits share an expansive vision to provoke personal journeys towards collective possibility.
These works, Howze says, were “born from an embodied writing practice, grappling with my own anxieties and vulnerabilities” and they have previously been developed over several years at venues as diverse as a public bathroom in New Haven, the Prelude Festival at CUNY, and Lincoln Center. He describes, “It began, simply, in 2014 during the start of the Black Lives Matter movement, as a locus to channel the anger and frustration I was feeling following the systemic murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. To know the beauty and dynamism of the Black body, but then to witness these horrifying maltreatments over and over again was maddening. The dehumanizing effect of violence can often be paralyzing. But it can also catalyze—and empower. So I started drafting a series of creative works as vessels to transmit my confusions, questions, and nightmares…I also wanted to take up space. People of color are often put into literal and metaphorical boxes, and I wanted to disown that through the scope and metamorphosis of this project. It’s rare in the theater to have intimate moments of shared vulnerability and I hope this work will inspire connections and contemplation.
Performances will take place on April 24 at 12pm & 5pm, April 25 at 12pm, April 26 at 5pm & 9pm and April 27 at 2pm & 8pm at BRIC House (647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY). Tickets for this event are free. Space is limited and registration is required to attend Self Portraits. RSVPs will open TUE, APR 9 at BRICartsmedia.org/SelfPortraits.
About Phillip Howze
Phillip Howze is a playwright whose work includes Self Portraits (BRIC) and Frontieres Sans Frontieres (The Bushwick Starr). His writing has been developed or produced at American AF Festival, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, BRIC, The Bushwick Starr, Clubbed Thumb, PRELUDE, The Public Theater, San Francisco Playhouse, SPACE at Ryder Farm, and Yale Cabaret. Fellowships include the Sundance Institute Theater Lab, Montalvo Arts Center, 2050 Fellowship at New York Theater Workshop, and the Emerging Writers Group at The Public. He is a Resident Writer at Lincoln Center Theater and was recently named the Lecturer in Playwriting at Harvard University's Theater, Dance and Media program. His writing is published by Samuel French, 53rd Street Press and Theater Magazine.
The Self Portraits series has been previously developed at American AF Festival/New Ohio Theater, Lincoln Center, Prelude Festival at CUNY, and Theater Masters-Aspen, with funding support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and New York State Council on the Arts.
BRIC is celebrating 40 years as the leading presenter of free cultural programming in Brooklyn, and one of the largest in New York City. The organization presents and incubates work by artists and media-makers that reflects the diversity of New York. BRIC programs reach hundreds of thousands of people each year.
In addition to making cultural programming genuinely accessible, BRIC is dedicated to providing substantial support to artists and media makers in their efforts to develop work and reach new audiences. BRIC is unusual in both presenting exceptional cultural experiences and nurturing individual expression. This dual commitment enables BRIC to most effectively reflect New York City’s innate cultural richness and diversity. Learn more at BRICartsmedia.org.
About BRIC OPEN
Established in 2017, the BRIC OPEN is an arts and ideas festival that converges around BRIC’s core values of creativity, inclusion, participation, and community. The festival aims to bring people together to radically imagine a more equitable, liberated future, through four days of art, music, film, performance, conversations, neighborhood walks, and shared experiences. More information here: BRICartsmedia.org/BRICopen