James Scruggs, a writer, performer and arts administrator was recently awarded a 2016 New Jersey State Council on the Arts fellowship for Artistic Excellence, a 2016 Creative Capital Grant and a 2015 MAP Grant from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew Mellon Foundation to work with 3LD Art & Technology Center to write and produce 3/Fifths which premiered at 3LD Art & Technology Center for 4 weeks in May 2017.
3/Fifths is a theatrical work exploring race and racism today; informed by the history that is sometimes deemed too disturbing to explore. It transformed the 10,000 square feet of 3LD Art & Technology Center into a dystopian theme park called SuprmemacyLand.
3/Fifths was one of four New York Times "Must See" productions in May 2017
"Immersive theater routinely makes audience members uncomfortable, but Mr. Scruggs is on a level all his own with “3/Fifths." NY Times May 2017
3/Fifths was a four star Recommended theatrical production
"The insidious brilliance of SupremacyLand lies in the way that Scruggs, along with directors Tamilla Woodard and Kareem Fahmy, co-opt the conventions of immersive theater to deliver a powerful message." Timeout NYC May 2017
James Scruggs was awarded a grant from Franklin Furnace in August of 2002. In March 2003 he became a resident artist at HERE Arts Center. Disposable Men his solo performance piece was originally produced by HERE and he received a NJSCA grant for artistic excellence in 2005. In September of 2005 He was awarded the first ever NY IT Award for Outstanding Solo Performance for Disposable Men, a performance piece juxtaposing images from Hollywood monster movies with the harsh reality of the historical treatment of black men in America. In February 2006 he was a resident artist with Mabou Mines. In February 2006 he was a resident artist with Mabou Mines. In December 2006 he was a featured American Playwright in a chapter contrasting his work with Suzan-Lori Parks called Interrogating America Through Theater And Performance, a textbook. In March 2007 Disposable Men completed a four city tour, to Seven Stages in Atlanta, Perishable in Providence, New World Theater in Amherst, and The Painted Bride in Philadelphia. He premiered his mixed media play (RUS)H, another collaboration with Kristin Marting and HERE in 2008 at 3LD which explored the dark world of a male sexworker desperately striving to prey upon a married man, told with video, tango and salsa. In 2010 he had a reading of his work Touchscape, a series of monologs of men speaking intimately about their relationship with touch at Harlem Stage’s The Gatehouse. It was followed by a 3 week residency at The Baryshnikov Arts Center and a work in progress showing at Dixon Place. Tickets To Manhood a work about how men irresponsibly mature into men was commissioned and performed at Dixon Place for three weeks in July 2011. From 2012 – 2013 he was a resident artist at Tribeca Arts Center Residency Program as a playwright, and completed and had a staged reading of The Deepest Man on Earth, in 2012, a piece exploring delusion and dogma and the worship of celebrities. In 2013 he performed a staged reading of his solo piece A Voluptuary Life, a piece about aging and self worth. His play The Deepest Man on Earth has been commissioned to premiere at 3LD Art and Technology Center in May of 2014 in a set created to plunge the audience into the underwater world of the piece with the incredible array of technical artistry available there. He has a BFA in Film from School of Visual Arts.
Theatrically, I consider myself an outsider artist with considerable experience. I have a BFA in Film Production, and experience in corporate audio visual staging and production. In fact I was the TD at Windows On the World on the 107th floor in the World Trade Center in 2001. I was on vacation, due back on September 12th. It was a great job. I made lots of money. After getting through my great personal loss of friends and co-workers on 9/11, I decided to focus on what I once considered extracurricular; the nurturing of my creative spirit which was quelled by the pursuit of money. I didn't learn in an academic setting that your first play does not get produced. I'm grateful for this ignorance. One of the first plays I wrote and performed in was Disposable Men, a solo theater work examining the phenomenon of unarmed black men being killed by policeman. The piece lyrically and literally juxtaposes the plight of Hollywood monsters onto unarmed black men. Though laden with technology, the response it elicited was almost always an emotional, visceral one. This is what greatly interests me, to create work with technology that is not about the technology.
Losing 74 co-workers on 9/11 live on TV was the most intense and frightening experience of my life. Through the floor to ceiling windows, my co-workers helplessly watched the plane crash. That's how I now define fear. I am a writer, a producer, a performer, a creative thinker, a leader, a team player, a generous community member.
Presently I'm the program director of 3LD Art & Technology Center. Last year I created, produced, and hosted 3LD Salon Series, workshops demystifying the process of making large scale experimental theatrical work. Due to lack of access to expensive technology or just plain fear, some communities self select themselves out of such work. I seek to expose, and include them.
At 3LD I recently completed Deepest Man, a work wrestling with grief and its controversial cure. It was an ambitious work with 5 actors, 13 video projectors and a 3D Holographic Projection System. I got unimaginable support from my theater. I was the lead artist, writer and producer of the project which required that underwater video footage be obtained. I formed a team, went to Mexico, and shot freedivers underwater in cenotes. Audiences and critics agreed, the results were stunning. I worked with technology unheard of at the Off-Off Broadway level. I discovered that I am also a very capable producer.