Bill T. Jones : What Problem?
November 15, 2022
UCSB Arts & Lectures
Santa Barbara, CA
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company 40th Anniversary Season Fall 2022 National Tour
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company’s latest work What Problem? provokes the tension between belonging to a community and feelings of isolation that many feel during these divisive political times. Adapted for proscenium stages from the massive work, Deep Blue Sea (2021)*, Jones conceived of this highly personal work in pursuit of the elusive “we” including a cast of local community members, a deconstructed text from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Jones and the company develop individual content with local community members in each of the touring locations making each performance specific to its host city.
Jones reflects on King’s immortal words, we shall overcome, mixed with the scripture of our democracy as formed and shaped by WE THE PEOPLE. There has always been an uneasy recognition of the truth at the base of the great Du Bois statement concerning “the problem of the color line” for Du Bois represented the epitome of otherness; yet we now understand this is much more complex. In our fractious era, What Problem? elaborates on this line in terms of sexual politics, gender identity, class struggles and immigration.
*Deep Blue Sea was originally commissioned by Park Avenue Armory and Manchester International Festival in collaboration with Holland Festival and first performed on September 28, 2021. Additional commissioning support provided by The Mann Center for the Performing Arts with original support for Deep Blue Sea provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphia. What Problem? Commissioning support provided by Partners in Creation, Ed Bradley Family Foundation, Carolina Performing Arts, Lumberyard Center for Film and Performing Arts, Indiana University Auditorium, George Mason University, Dancers’ Workshop, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Rehearsal support provided by MASS MoCA, Mana Contemporary and Bethany Arts Community.