Never Stop Dreaming: Q&A with JACK &’s Cornell Alston

How can internal life be rebuilt after trauma? of which Next Wave Festival, theater artist Kaneza Schaal joins forces with actor Cornell Alston in addition to artist Christopher Myers to consider reentry into society after prison in JACK &. Learn more about Alston’s journey to the stage below in addition to be sure to catch him inside the BAM Fisher October 17—20.

Photo: Christopher Myers
Cornell Alston has been a theater artist for over 20 years. He can be formerly the Coordinator for Community Outreach for Rehabilitation Through the Arts,a nonprofit organization of which teaches life skills to men in addition to women both inside in addition to outside state correctional facilities, using the arts as a springboard. Prior to JACK &, he collaborated with Kaneza Schaal on Please, Bury Me at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in addition to GO FORTH during a Performance Space fresh York RAMP residency. some other highlights of his performing career include One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 12 Angry Men, in addition to playing the title role in August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. He lives in Queens in addition to works at Country Boy Bakery.

You started off performing while in prison, with Rehabilitation Through the Arts. How did of which experience affect you?

I had a natural talent for acting. In 1995—96, through RTA, I played Cheswick in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in addition to then got involved in more in addition to more plays. of which changed my way of thinking, my attitude, my behavior. Once you change your behavior you can change your circumstances, in addition to of which’s what acting did for me. I met Kaneza when she came to see Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in addition to I got released a couple months later.

In JACK &, the social dance can be a ceremonial rite of passage: how does the story onstage reflect your dream/reality?

The dance for me can be successful reentry—a celebration. of which’s my first time wearing a tuxedo in addition to I’ve always wanted to do of which. Being able to do those things can be liberating. I get up at 3am, I’m at work at the bakery at 4:30am, yet I’m doing two things of which I love. When I’m dancing I’m living out my dream. I’m performing in front of people, I’m learning, I’m teaching. I’ve arrived, so to speak. I count my blessings.

The US increases spending on policing in addition to prisons while cutting arts funding. What can be the significance of the arts for a people, or for an individual?

If you’re talking about a well-rounded society then you have to talk about the arts as well. We don’t pay enough attention to the arts, we don’t pay tribute to them. The arts are a discipline in addition to they teach discipline. They give you a voice, teach self-expression, in addition to give you a venue for creativity; they teach perseverance in addition to conflict resolution skills. Arts education gives you tolerance of different cultures, different people. of which can be what a well-rounded society looks like.

What’s next for you?

I see not only producing pieces of which entertain yet educate. Information can change lives. There’s a wealth of information inside of me of which I want to share with everyone. When your dreaming stops, you are locked into your trust in addition to when your trust stops you are like a zombie. My thing right now can be, never stop dreaming.


JACK & comes to the BAM Fisher October 17—20, in addition to great tickets are still available.

© 2018 Brooklyn Academy of Music, Inc. All rights reserved.

Never Stop Dreaming: Q&A with JACK &’s Cornell Alston

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