125 Lafayette Place
Plainfield, N.J. 07060
917 642 6495
Writer, Lead Artist, Performer
for Severe Clear a large scale solo performance theatrical project
utilizing an expansive video and audio soundscape
to explore the huge catastrophe of 9/11 from the point of view of one man,
an employee of Windows on the World who was on
vacation, due back to work the next day on 9-12-2001.
This work will premiere in 2021,
the 20 year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack
Consultant to The Field, NYC.
I’m actively seeking partnerships and opportunities to increase diversity
of performing artists participating in The Field, and I’m a facilitator of Fieldwork,
a workshop where artists share work in progress
and give and receive non directorial feedback.
SELECTED HONORS AND AWARDS
Awarded an Elliot Norton Award for the Boston production of
Trapped in A Traveling Minstrel Show
for Outstanding Production (Fringe)
Awarded a MAP Grant in support of A Voluptuary LIfe
Awarded (for the second time) the New Jersey State Council on the Arts 2016 Fellowship Grant for artistic excellence in the category of Multi-Disciplinary Arts.
Awarded The Creative Capital Grant in support of 3/Fifths, a theatrical piece exploring race and racism premiering in Spring of 2017.
Awarded a MAP Grant from the Doris Duke/ Andrew Mellon Foundation to help create 3/Fifths premiering at 3LD Art and Technology Center 2017.
Invited Artist/ The Click Festival in Helsingor, Denmark. One of a group of artists from 3LD that traveled to The Cultureyard in Denmark. An international group of techs worked together to craft a software program able to map and track moving performers in real time.
Included in text book Interrogating America,. A chapter discussed James Scruggs’ Disposable Men and Susan-Lori Parks The American Play.
Selected artist in the Mabou Mines Residency Program. Facilitated byTerry O’Reilly and Ruth Maleczech.
Recipient of Edith Lutyens and Norman Bel Geddes Foundation Grant for a substantial upgrade in theatrical design for a production exhibiting excellence; granted to Disposable Men.
Awarded the first ever 2005 New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Solo Performance for Disposable Men.
Recipient of NJ State Council on the Arts Fellowship Grant for Artistic Excellence (NJSCA) for artistic excellence in Multi-Disciplinary Arts.
Granted Artist in Residence residency at HERE Arts Center, NYC; the residency included rehearsal space and a possible produce mainstage show.
Included in Naked Angels Writers Lab, along with six other writers, each to create a ten minute piece on the evening’s theme, “the opposite of fear”.
Selected to attend a two week Summer Institute at The Kitchen, NYC master classes with Bill T. Jones, and Laurie Anderson, lecture by Yoko Ono.
Awarded the Franklin Furnace Fund Grant for Performance Art to complete a major work in New York State.
Selected to be a part of a group show and mentorship program called Blueprints at Brooklyn Arts Exchange, in Brooklyn. Charles Dennis curator.
Writer/Performer A Voluptuary Life,
a workshop performance of the work with video at
HERE ArtsCenter, NYC
Writer of Better Than Yellow,
A 10 minute play originally written for the Harlem9 48 Hours in Harlem play festival.
The play, inspired by Color Struck by Zora Neale Hurston,
is a play about colorism in the black community.
It was commissioned and produced by Silent Voices, Uganda.
It was performed July 20-29, 2018 in Uganda National Theater
on Rattlestick Theater’s The St Vincent’s Project: Novenas for a Lost Hospital:
Working with a core group of collaborators I staged the site specific,
immersive epilogue and prologue of Cusi Cram’s play.
Writer Creator/Producer Melt !
commissioned by and performed on The Highline
for one night. This site specific dystopian satire was a
fully interactive immersive work. It’s May 17, 2060.
The 17th Annual Post Racial America Day Rally.
White people in America have been the minority for 17 years.
The mixed race, gender fluid President of the United States,
who refuses to disclose birth gender, speaks: “America is the great melting pot…MELT!”
of Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show. This work with music, song,
dance and video, deconstructs the minstrel show format and explores
the fact that documentary dash-cam video of unarmed black man shootings
by policeman are now views as subjectively as one would view a painting or sculpture.
Premiered in Boston Nov 3-12, 2017 at BCA Martin Hall for a limited run.
IT WON BOSTON'S ELLIOT NORTON AWARD FOR A FRINGE PRODUCTION
3/Fifths SupremacyLand a site specific large scale immersive production
exploring racism, white privilege and racist carnage presented in
The Atrocity Carnival with side show booths exploring racist carnage…
but fun! Presented by 3-Legged Dog at 3LD Art & Technology Center, NYC.
23 actors, and 30 collaborators came together to complete the work
using 46 channels of video to create a work that was accessible and visceral.
NEW YORK TIME MUST SEE PRODUCTION MAY 2017/ 4 STARS TIMEOUT NYC
Writer/Performer A Voluptuary Life,
an excerpt of a one man show at Dixon Place.
Writer of Deepest Man,
a theatrical work about freediving as a cure for grief with 5 actors, 13 video projectors, a 3D Holographic Video Projection System. Produced by, and premiered at 3LD Art & Technology Center.
Writer for Harlem 48,
a 48 hour play festival in an Obie award winning event hosted by Liberation Theater Company, NYC.
Solo Performer in Miss Congeniality
by Kim Davies; performing the role of a 20-something white woman written to be performed by a black man, in whiteface for Brooklyn College’s annual The Weasel Festival at CSC Theater, NYC.
Writer/Performer of A Voluptuary Life,
a staged reading at Tribeca Arts Center of a monolog/ a middle aged sex addict reflecting back on his life.
Artist In Residence at Tribeca Arts Center
, writing Deepest Man a play about dogma, delusion, celebrity, grief and freediving. Staged reading.
Writer, Performer of Tickets To Manhood,
an ensemble work about how boys become men without rituals commissioned by Dixon Place for their HOT Festival.
Performer, Writer in Touchscape,
a reading at Harlem Stage, a residency at The Baryshnikov Arts Center, and a WIP showing at Dixon Place performed with 7 actor/dancers.
Performer, Writer in Thuggish,
excerpt from Touchscape, An Emotional Striptease; performed in The BLACKOUT Festival. Directed by Kristin Marting.
Performer in Quixote,
playing Sancho in a site specific piece rehearsed and performed in Philadelphia, with other professional actors from NYC in addition to homeless people from Philadelphia. It was directed by Lear DeBessonnet.
Writer, Performer, Video Designer of Disposable Men
excerpts were presented at UMass for a conference on violence.
Writer, Video Designer of (RUS)H
a multimedia work with 3 actors and 2 video puppets using wireless tablets displaying broadcasted images; produced by HERE Arts Center, performed at 3 Legged Dog, NYC directed by Kristin Marting.
Touring Writer, Video Designer, Performer
of Disposable Men at New World Theater in Amherst, Mass; Perishable Theater, Providence at 7Stages in Atlanta Georgia January 2007 Lead Actor in Purity, a play by Thomas Bradshaw which ran at PS-122, in NYC for 4 weeks.
Writer/Performer/Video Designer for Disposable Men,
a solo multi-media performance piece examining the uncanny similarity that African American men and Hollywood monsters share…returns to HERE Arts Center, NYC.
Premiere of Disposable Men
at HERE Arts Center, NYC an original solo theatre performance piece examining the legacy of atrocities aimed at African American men, with 8 channels of video, and radical audience participation.
IT WON FIRST EVER IT AWARD FOR SOLO PERFORMANCE
Video Designer, Writer, Performer of Touchscape,
an original solo piece with video; an exploration of male sexuality. at New Perspectives Theatre, NYC.
Performed and Designed Video for Touchscape,
a solo theatre piece with video as a part of Here Arts Center 2002 festival.
a documentary I videotaped, edited and co- produced with Robert Penn was shown at Anthology Film Archives.
at Am Foundation, DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY Mollie Davies, instructor
designed video for an 8 video channel, 4 audio channel installation using a 360 degree screen.
The subject- NYC police disturbing practice of killing unarmed black men.
SELECTED PRESS AND REVIEWS
Created/Written/Produced by James Scruggs
Directed by Tamilla Woodard, co-directed by Kareem Fahmy
"Inspired by Mr. Scrugg's 2005 multimedia solo show "Disposable Men" about the treatment of black men in America, the enormously ambitious "3/Fifths" means to connect the dots of racism in United States history with the huge numbers of black men behind bars today.
Visually and conceptually, "3/Fifths" is extraordinary . . . this relentlessly provocative, intricately imagined satire does offer plenty to shock and horrify, and at least as much to make you think.
Half immersive spectacle, half cabaret, this satire is a provocative and unnerving exploration of American racism."
Laura Colins-Hughes The New York Times
"You're asked to choose your racial designation at the door to James Scruggs's incendiary
interactive carnival performance, and that's just the beginning of "3/Fifths' " funhouse mirror
reflection of American racism. Depending on whether you choose to be "black" or "white"
(designated by a mark on your forehead), you'll have a radically different experience at
SupremacyLand, lies in the way Scruggs's, along with directors Tamilla Woodard and
Kareem Fahmy, co-opt the conventions of immersive theater to deliver a powerful message.
The show offers what may be one of the most uncomfortable experiences you'll ever have to a theater
- and that's entirely the point."
"Upon entering "SupremacyLand", you are immediately confronted with a black woman, seated and blind (Catherine Braxton). She asks you, "Black or white" and the two entrances to the space, labeled "White" and "Colored", stand ominously behind. "White" I answered, sheepishly. I take a moment to process that I'm not sure I've ever publicly declared my whiteness save for on a census form. My whiteness is assumed."
"3/Fifths is meticulously researched and crafted by the directing and dramaturgy team of
Tamilla Woodard and Kareem Fahmy from the brave mind of James Scruggs, writer and creator.
And the trademark technology of 3LD is on full display here, using tons of projectors,
choreographed with ease."
Jenna Scherer Time Out
"Scruggs's look at the way subservience is enforced -- partly by the oppressed
themselves, brainwashed into acceptance -- is disquieting to say the least.
The New Yorker
"Audiences should ready themselves for a provocative participatory experience with 3/Fifths, written and conceived by the African-American theater artist James Scruggs . . . Eye opening from moment to moment, the production is an act of great daring and discomfort."
"BOTTOM LINE: step right up to impactful, intentionally nauseating, and gut-punching realness of James Scruggs's 3/Fifths. 3/Fifths is meticulously researched and crafted by the directing and dramaturgy team of Tamilla Woodard and Kareem Fahmy from the brave mind of James Scruggs, writer and creator. "
The Village Voice
Written by James Scruggs
Directed by Mark Rayment
“The Twilight Zone” meets media critique meets psychological portraiture in
James Scruggs’s "Deepest Man", a thought-provoking experiment at the
3LD Art & Technology Center. Given that the show comes from 3-Legged Dog —
a company known for integrating performance, video and effects — it is unsurprising that the piece, loaded with abstraction and supernatural traces, is a visual marvel.
The stage has three planes: one near, offering action in the tangible present;
one comprising scrims on which hologram-like images are projected;
and one extending back about 30 feet, in which dreamlike tableaus are staged.
Andy Webster New York Times
Deepest Man is a dream play that unfolds in the last few moments of its protagonist's life. Dr. Hazzardville Sommers has been institutionalized following his wife's death, apparently by drowning.
Deepest Man exploits the possibilities of Musion Eyeliner, the updated Pepper's Ghost system that turns up in so many 3LD productions, and it must be said that Grant McDonald's video design provides what may be the most beautiful cascade of images I've seen at this theatre. The side walls of the house are filled with rising waters. A terrifying storm, augmented by Ayumu "Poe" Saegusa's lighting and the fluent sound design by JoEllen Dolan and Kevin DeYoe, unfolds on the entire upstage area of David Ogle's expansive setting, which suggests an empty, abandoned hospital from another era. Deepest Man is a brief work, running just an hour, and, under Mark Rayment's direction, the words and visuals come at you so rapidly that there's little to do but let them wash over you; still, it's likely that you will find the final moments, topped by a previously unseen scenic tableau, more powerful than you might expect. Here, the technology fits the script in a much more organic fashion. If Deepest Mandepends on technology, it isn't just a display of digital expertise; that's a good sign for this adventurous company.
David Barbour Lighting an
TICKETS TO MANHOOD
Written by James Scruggs
Directed by Mark Rayment
"In Tickets to Manhood, a new play featured this month as the centerpiece of the Dixon Place HOT! Festival in New York City, writer James Scruggs tackles the question “What makes a man today?” He believes that in America, while religious ceremony, military service and marriage were once a boy’s route to manhood, gang violence, drug addiction and imprisonment have also become coming-of-age milestones as our society has become more and more urbanized.
Tickets to Manhood is a smart play, full of believable and interesting characters who collide in a powerful and shocking ending. The actors perform well both individually and as an ensemble, particularly author James Scruggs, who manages to evoke a laugh or tug at the heartstrings virtually every time he speaks. For everyone who is a man -- or knows one -- this is a piece worth catching."
Court Stroud Out.com
After the reading of Tickets To Manhood that I attended with about 30 other people in Northampton, MA 2 months ago, audience members opened their feedback by saying they felt “ripped open” by what they had just witnessed. There was a physical charge of sadness and tension in the room, and yet it was not hopeless. It was the tension of engagement, the tension of creation. James Scruggs has that impact on people.
“Tickets to Manhood” looks at the ways in which men go through rites-of-passage in some very damaging ways as children and young adults, questions the absence of conscious men as role models, brings together a group of men with very hard stories to tell [race, incarceration, military service, religious abuse], throws into question what the role of a ‘weekend workshop’ can be in the process of providing a meaningful rite of passage … and demonstrates how a poorly facilitated group can go horribly wrong. It subtly holds up a mirror that was not always comfortable for me to look at. It has an element of ‘the Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ in it that left me feeling challenged; wondering what right I have to try and facilitate ‘men’s work’ … and at the same time … demonstrating how desperately needed ‘men’s work’ is. And it definitely showed me how much I have learned about creating real safety and opportunity for men in a circle, because there was a voice in my head screaming ‘NOOO!!!’ at several points in the production.
The story that is told about who we are (even in our own minds) is different than the reality.
Boysen Hogeson The Mankind Project Journa
Written by James Scruggs
Directed by Kristin Marting of HERE Arts Center
Performed at 3LD Art & Technology Center, NYC
“(Rus)h . . . highlights an exciting group of young performers and demonstrates that experiments in multidisciplinary theatre need be neither bloated and ostentatious, nor inaccessible and pretentious.”
“. . . the production as a whole held my interest and earned my admiration more than anything I’ve seen in recent months.”
“The virtuosity of the designers and the performers, all of whom are first-rate, is a testament to the value of Here Arts Center’s resident artist program, which allows ensembles to work together over a period of time to create new work. The actors bite into their roles with a commitment and enthusiasm that bring life to moments that might otherwise not have worked. When the characters challenge the audience to give them advice or to provide them with drugs, they do so with a longing and an intensity that makes us feel genuinely uncomfortable rather than annoyed by a device we’ve seen countless times. Both more challenging and more polished than many shows with higher profiles (and higher ticket prices), (Rus)h is a welcome sign that there is still plenty of life, innovation, and bite in New York's downtown theatre scene.”
Frank Episale offoffonline.com
“With its themes of sexual violence and clever use of high-tech multimedia elements, James Scruggs's and Kristin Marting's (RUS)H has all
the markings of a downtown avant-garde theatrical production, but there is also something quite simple about its presentation. Structured in the form of a Greek tragedy, (RUS)H offers a compelling look into addiction and the yearning to feel something beyond one's normal day-to-day experiences.”
“This latest collaboration of Scruggs and Marting marks them as an artistic partnership of thoughtful innovation and abundant talent, and (RUS)H stands as a creative cocktail of strong writing, effective staging, innovative stylistic choices, and fine performances.”
“The chorus of this tragedy consists of two "video puppets"—performers clad in black who do not speak but rather hold video monitors in each hand. These video puppets are used to great effect and they—combined with the video screen backdrop that replaces a more traditional set—are an ingenious stylistic device for a piece that is so much about what lurks unsaid under the surface. Providing foreshadowing and glimpses of the inner thoughts and feelings of these characters, they
add emotional and psychological layering to (RUS)H in a way that doesn't bog down playwright James Scruggs's lean prose.”
Fred Backus nytheatre.com
"James Scruggs, who wrote and performs this collection of character pieces, has done something very difficult: he has written an angry play about racism that is also slyly funny. But be warned: the laughs will usually catch in your throat. This multi-media show engages issues of race in the button-pushing satirical style that Spike Lee was aiming for in his film “Bamboozled”.
"With the adept assistance of the director Kristin Marting, the show manages to be both light and tragic, earnest and postmodern, all the while putting one in mind, oddly enough, of a phrase coined by Clarence Thomas: “a high-tech lynching.”
Jason Zinoman The New York Times
"Stage dramas successfully utilizing video projections are few and far between. Often the coupling is at best tedious, and usually a silly distraction. With Disposable Men James Scruggs crafts an organic, mesmerizing piece of theater seamlessly incorporating multiple forms of video an visual content."
Douglas Singleton L Magazine
"Astutely combining live performance with a panoptic array of video projections, Scruggs offers a pointed, visually striking account of denigrated negritude in the media and on the streets.
The high quality of the design is matched by Scrugg’s confident performance, and the show’s finale, in which the audience uses 41 wooden guns (outfitted with laser pointers) to re-create the infamous death of Amadou Diallo, is fittingly provocative."
Adam Feldman Time Out
"If anyone is tired of theater that only offers mindless escape to its viewers, then I highly recommend rushing to HERE Arts Center where James Scruggs works to make the audience feel implicated at every moment (particularly white audience members) by not letting viewers remain as complacent observers behind the theater’s fourth wall."
Warren Hoffman Talkin’ Broadway
SELECTED PROGRAMS CREATED AND PRODUCED
Producer for The Field’s 30th Anniversary Gala, staged and directed three showings on the January 26 where 30 artists performed.
Workshop Facilitator for Alliance of Artist Residencies Conference in Providence, R.I. Created and facilitated a three day Fieldwork workshop culminating in a public showing of the process.
Produced Workshop for Deepest Man; at this workshop all the designers met and shot video using a green screen to be composited into video shot live in a cave for an opening sequence to Deepest Man.
Produced Video Shoot at Howe Caverns for one day for opening sequence of video for Deepest Man.
Produced Workshop for Deepest Man; invited all the designers of Deepest Man to have an initial workshop/think tank residency.
Produced Isadora Software Workshop at 3LD Art & Technology Center; flew in the creator of Isadora, a software program Mark Coniglio from Berlin to teach an introductory workshop and a master-class.
Produced Video Shoot for Deepest Man, in Mexico. Along with my video designer, two freedivers and an underwater videographer, we shot underwater video in cenotes (sinkholes) that was projected onto the 40’ 3D holographic projection surface used in the show (Musion Eyeliner).
Creator/Producer/Curator/Host of 3LD Salon Series events to celebrate the work of technical designers. Theater artists are offered a 10 day residency and provided with technician-designers to work on a short piece. The last day of residency is a public event exploring and demystifying the process of working with designers. The first event was The Video Designer and subsequent events over 2013/2014 featured The Sound Designer, The Lighting Designer in Collaboration With The Video Designer, and The Interactivity Designer.
Produced and Facilitated Uptown/Downtown, working for The Field, I brought the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and the Harlem Arts Alliance together to produce a NYC tour for performing artists from Uptown and Downtown that was performed at Dance Theater of Harlem and Chen Dance Center in Chinatown. The first version was so successful we did it again.
Produced and Facilitated Uptown/Downtown, I conceived and created this program where self identified “Uptown” performing artists and “Downtown” artists shared 8 workshops sharing work and feedback which culminated in two performances, one uptown at The Gatehouse in Harlem and one at Dance New Amsterdam in Soho.
SELECTED ADMIN/ TEACHING / WORKSHOP FACILITATION
Guest Lecturer/ Workshop Leader
The Black Theater Summit at Dartmouth College
Guest Lecturer/ Workshop Leader
at The New School for the Arts management and Entrepreneurship
for The Defender Institute: At a week long workshop and conference in Saratoga NY,
I worked with accomplished public defender lawyers and artists.
We coached recently appointed public defenders and reminded them
that the law is important but now more important than their clients
who often get thrown into the system with an easy plea that
can essentially ruin their life.
Brown University: Making Theatrical Work involving Social Justice.
I spoke to a class of MFA Theater students about making work
and crafting a career as an artist.
at CUNY College BMCC, NYC Making Impactful Social Justice Performance
showing video of my work, and offering the three stages that magicians use
to artists to create topical work. 1… The Pledge (the subject of the work): 2…
The Turn (add your personal POV): 3… The Prestige
(an unexpected astonishing but apt occurrence)
at Wheaton College, Mass. Making Personal, Historical and Topical Occurrences into Impactful Theater Through showing slides and video of my work I illustrated my process of making theater
Professor/ Wilson College MFA Dance and Visual Arts Program Taught a class to artists using video with performance Exploring Process to Impactful Personal Performance.
Guest Lecturer / Teaching Artist at CUNY NYC Intro To Theatre Class at BMCC Tribeca Arts center. The workshop was a three hour class; students created original, emotional scenes inspired by current events.
Program Director and Facilitator for The Field’s artist retreat, Artward Bound, a ten day retreat at Earthdance in Plainfield, Ma, where artists were granted time and space to work independently and come together for facilitated career based and performance based workshops.
Facilitator for The Field’s Mixed Disipline peer to peer critical feedback workshop. A 6-week workshop culminating in a public showing.
Facilitator for The Field’s 8 week critical feedback workshop where theatrical artists show work and share non-directorial feedback.
March 2012 - December 2014
Hired by 3 Legged Dog as Program Director duties include managing the residency program, co-curating, and creating original programs to increase diversity, and producing original large scale experimental theatrical works.
Facilitator/Group Leader for The Field at Artward Bound, at NACL; a 10 day artist retreat for 10 artists. We stayed upstate at NACL in a 14 room house, cooked, ate, and shared work Fieldwork style, in the large theater space on site.
Facilitator for The Field at Artward Bound, at Earthdance; a 10 day artist retreat in Massachusetts leading art and career based workshops.
Facilitator of Fieldwork, the group leader in a series of workshops where performing artists show work to each other and give stylized non directorial feedback.
GRANT AND RESIDENCY PANELIST
Panelist for Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance for The Rubies Presenting grants to performing artists living in Baltimore.
Panelist for Lower Manhattan Cultural Council MCAF and MCAT grants, presenting grants to performing artists living in Manhattan.
Panelist for Chashama Residency Program.
Panelist for Lower Manhattan Cultural Council MCAF and MCAT grants, presenting grants to performing artists living in Manhattan.
Panelist for Mid Atlantic Arts Council which met to give grants for artistic excellence to performing artists in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Panelist NYC Dance Theater Workshops Outer Space’s panel which met to select which groups would receive grants to support rehearsal spaces in the outer boroughs of New York.
Panelist for Theater of Performance Art Q & A Seminar, a benefit for the New York Innovative Theatre Awards. The panel consisted of performance artists.
Panelist at HERE Arts Center for selecting the new resident artists for the 2006-2007 Here Artists Residency Program.
Panelist on The Franklin Furnace awards panel.
EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE
September 11 2001
I worked at the World Trade Center at Windows on the World as the Director of Technical Services since 1996. This day ended many things… among them, my career in the staging of corporate business meetings. This day started many things… including the beginning of a full time commitment to theatrical performance/art.
Education BFA School of Visual Arts / Film 1979