American Realness

Jaamil Olawale Kosoko


Co-Presented by Abrons Arts Center & Gibney Dance

Saturday, January 13, 2:30pm with special guest M. Lamar
Sunday, January 14, 8:30pm with special guest Che Gossett
Monday, January 15, 7:00pm with special guest M. Lamar
Tuesday, January 16, 10:00pm with special guest Che Gossett

Run Time: 60 minutes

Abrons Arts Center, Experimental Theater, 466 Grand Street, Manhattan
Single Tickets $25 / Abrons Festival Pass $20

Single Tickets Festival Pass

“What does it mean to defend the dead? To tend to the Black dead and dying: to tend to the Black person, to Black people, always living in the push toward our death?” — Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being 

Setting the fugitive experience afforded Black people on fire with majesty, opulence, and agency, Séancers is a nonlinear examination of how the American racialized body uses psychic, spiritual, and theoretical strategies to shapeshift through socio-politically charged fields of loss and oppression. The work collapses lyrical poetry, psychic movement forms and strategies of discursive performance to investigate concepts of grief, resurrection and paranormal activity. Interrogating issues related to American history and colonialism, Séancers journeys into the surreal and fantastical states of the Black imagination to traverse the “fatal” axis of abstraction, illegibility and gender complexity.

Séancers was created with commission support from Abrons Arts Center and Danspace Project with additional funding support from MAP Fund, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Princeton Arts Fellowship, the Jerome Foundation, and independent donors and friends of Jaamil Olawale Kosoko. Residency support for Séancers was provided by Abrons Art Center, Bennington College, Casa Na Ilha Art Residence in Brazil, FringeArts, pOnderosa Movement and Discovery, and Haverford College.
Photo by Andrew Amorim

Creation, Concept, and Installation Design: Jaamil Olawale Kosoko
Dramaturg: Emily Reilly
Séancers: Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, with Special Guest
Video Installation Performers: Imma Asher and Jaamil Olawale Kosoko
Sound Design, Engineering, Technical Support, and Performance: Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste
Special Guest Séancers: M. Lamar & Che Gossett
Performance Doulas: Imma Asher, M. Lamar, Jennifer Kidwell
Poetry & Text: ‘Power’ by Audre Lorde, ‘Heelz On’ and ‘Entertainer’ by Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Ruby Sales’s monologue from ‘Where Does It Hurt’, On Being with Krista Tippett
Mylar Backdrop Construction: Devin N. Morris
Associate Costume Design and Fabrication: Simone Duff
Wardrobe, Make-up & Costume Support: SaVonne Whitfield, M.A.
Lighting Design: Serena Wong with Megan Lang
Lighting Supervisors: Megan Lang, Amanda Jensen and Kate McGee
Video Installation Editor and Director: Andrew Amorim
Projects Manager: Kimya Imani Jackson
Grants Specialist: Ling Elizabeth Yang
Research Assistant and Assistant Stage Manager: Alyssa Gersony

Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, originally from Detroit, MI, is a Nigerian-American curator, author, and performance artist. He is a 2017 Princeton Arts Fellow, a 2017 Jerome Artists in Residence at Abrons Arts Center, a 2017 APAP Leadership Fellow, and a 2017 Cave Canem Poetry Fellow. He is a 2016 Gibney Dance boo-koo resident artist and a recipient of a 2017 and 2016 USArtists International Award from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation. His work has been presented throughout Europe and the United States. He has created original roles in the performance works of visual artist Nick Cave, Pig Iron Theatre Company, Keely Garfield Dance, Miguel Gutierrez and The Powerful People, Headlong Dance Theater, among others. Kosoko’s poems, interviews, and essays can be found published in The American Poetry Review, Poems Against War, The Dunes Review, Silo, Detroit Research v2, Dance Journal (PHL), the Broad Street Review (PHL), Movement Research Performance Journal, and Critical Correspondence (NYC). He lectures, speaks, and performs internationally. His previous work #negrophobia has toured throughout Europe having appeared in major festivals including Moving in November (Finland), TakeMeSomewhere (UK), SICK! (UK), Tanz im August (Berlin), Oslo Internasjonale Teaterfestival (Norway), Zurich MOVES! (Switzerland), Beursschouwburg (Belgium) and Spielart Festival (Munich). Visit or for more information.

Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste is a Bessie-nominated composer, designer and performer, living and working in Brooklyn, NY. A current Issue Project Room Artist-In-Residence, his work, through the lens of precarious labor, complicates notions of industry, identity, and environment and the implications of the intersections of such phenomena. He is a founding member of performance collective, Wildcat!, and frequently collaborates with performers and fine artists, including Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, André M. Zachery, and Yanira Castro/a canary torsi. He has presented at the Brooklyn Museum, Newark Museum, Under The Radar at The Public Theater, The Studio Museum In Harlem, National Sawdust, The Jam Handy (Detroit), Tanz Im August at Hau3 (Berlin), American Realness at Abrons, Knockdown Center, Gibney Dance, FringeArts (Philadelphia), Judson Church, Stoa Cultural Center (Helsinki), MIT, Arts East New York, JACK, Painted Bride Art Center (Philadelphia), University Settlement, Harlem Stage, as well as on Dazed Digital, Complex, and Boiler Room.

Serena Wong is a Brooklyn-based freelance lighting designer for theater, opera, and dance. Her designs have been seen at the Joyce, New York Live Arts, Danspace, REDCAT, and Jacob’s Pillow. She is the lighting supervisor for Dorrance Dance and and enjoys beekeeping and breadbaking.

Emily Reilly is British/Irish performance maker working across a number of different disciplines. She has created live art events in the U.S. and internationally at a variety of venues and found spaces including (selected): The Project Arts Centre, Dublin; The Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin; The Tron Theatre, Glasgow; The Invisible Dog Art Center; The Baryshnikov Arts Center, and The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center in NYC. In 2011 her production of Minute After Midday was awarded a prestigious Fringe First Award at The Edinburgh Festival. She is part of the team that organizes and curates CATCH performance series. She is also an alumna of the Urban Bush Women’s Summer Leadership Institute. M.F.A, The Yale School of Drama.

M. Lamar is a composer who works across opera, metal, performance, video, sculpture and installation to craft sprawling narratives of radical becomings. Born May 29th 1984, Lamar holds a BFA from The San Francisco Art Institute and attended the Yale School of Art, sculpture program, before dropping out to pursue music. Lamar’s work has been presented internationally, most recently at National Sawdust New York, The Kitchen New York, MoMa PS1’s Greater New York, Merkin Hall, New York, Issue Project Room New York, The Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco; Human resources, Los Angeles;Wesleyan University; Participant Inc., New York; New Museum, New York; Södra Teatern, Stockholm; Warehouse9, Copenhagen; WWDIS Fest, Gothenburg and Stockholm; The International Theater Festival, Donzdorf, Germany; Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York; Performance Space 122, New York; and African American Art & Culture Complex, San Francisco; among others.

Che Gossett is a trans femme writer cruising in the end times. Most recently, they received a Palestinian American Research Center grant and are currently serving as a 2017-2018 Queer Arts Mentor.

“In some ways Séancers is a continuation of his last evening-length show, #negrophobia, presented at Abrons in 2016 as part of the American Realness festival. That work, a more explicit reckoning with his brother’s death and violence against black men in the United States, has toured Europe over the past two years.”
– Siobhan Burke,The New York Times, December 2017

“A foray into the dramatic and vulnerable elements of identity”
– Effie Bowen, Interview Magazine

‘a bold and bounding work…”
– Aurin Squire, New York Theatre Review

“challenging, necessary and entirely relevant”
– Andrew Edwards, Exeunt Magazine, Glasgow