Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber's Twentieth Anniversary Celebration continues with a "Caramelzation" of "Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song" directed by Charlotte Brathwaite at NYC's The Town Hall!
The 1971 release of Melvin Van Peebles "Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song" was a cinematic milestone on multiple levels — not least being the making of the film itself.
"Sweetback" was shot in nineteen frenetic days on the run from industry unions and police poised to shut the production down.
Within months of release, "Sweetback" became the most successful independent feature in American film history.
In every aspect of representing Black communal culture and radical resistance, "Sweetback" was a breakthrough work of protest-art and soul.
Van Peebles composed the score himself and got a band of upstarts he met through his secretary to play his tunes for the soundtrack. That group, uncredited on the vinyl release, became more well-known a couple years later as Earth Wind & Fire.
Van Peebles driving, tuneful score and psychedelic sound design blended many genres in ways that influenced the great soundtracks which followed by Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Earth Wind & Fire, James Brown and Willie Hutch—albeit in many mediocre Hollywood attempts to recreate Sweetback’s artful auteurist magic during the so-called Blaxploitation era.
On May 30th, Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber will be once again “caramelizing" Van Peebles compositions while a silent screening of "Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song" is projected onto the Town Hall stage. Performing a live score remix that will draw on both the 1971 original and the 2010 operatic scores. Actors will read from the original script while BSAC surgically operates on Van Peebles' music via their remixological deployment of the late Butch Morris’ patented “Conduction" system for improvising ensembles.
Director Charlotte Brathwaite (Canada/Barbados/UK) was named as one of the “up-and-coming women in theatre to watch” by Playbill. Brathwaite is known for her unique approach to staging classical and unconventional texts, dance, visual art, multi-media, site-specific installation, video, film, performance art, plays and music events. Her work has been seen in the Americas, Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia and ranges in subject matter from the historical past to the distant future illuminating issues of race, sex, power and the complexities of the human condition. Brathwaite is a 2019 Creative Capital awardee, a 2019 United States Artists Fellow and a 2019 Rockefeller/Bellagio resident. Other awards include: the Prelude Festival Franky Award, the Brown Institute Magic Grant, the Princess Grace George C. Wolfe Award, the Julian Milton Kaufman Prize (Yale), and the National Performing Network Creation Fund. She has continued collaborations with noted artists such as Meshell Ndegeocello, Peter Sellars, Flutronix, Ayesha Jordan, Sanford Biggers, Burnt Sugar Arkestra and others. MFA; Yale School of Drama. Brathwaite is currently a freelance director and Associate Professor of Music and Theater Arts at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). www.charlottebrathwaite.com
This show will be 18+