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Blake Sugarman

is a multidisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, NY. He finds expression as an actor, musician, poet, and activist but is best known for his unusual solo performances which have been described as “spoken word and installation art in a theatrical duet.” 

Past solo work has been presented at La MaMa ETC, The Brick (Resident Artist Series), The Living Gallery, Bushwick Open Studios, and NYU's Experimental Theatre Wing. You can catch him on stage April 9th at The Bitter End at 6:30pm for a workshop sharing of his latest piece, Are We There Yet? (Poems and Prophecies for Defiant Pawns).

 

 

 

SOLO PERFORMANCE

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Blake’s work explores philosophical quandaries through the lens of his own experiences. He plays himself, but the action often occurs in a surreal realm where symbols come to life. Memories unravel into questions which explode into poetry.

 

Up Next:

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Are We There Yet?

(Poems and Prophecies for Defiant Pawns)

Blake’s latest piece is a collaboration with guitarist Tyler Stahl. The two have known each other since childhood and written music together for over a decade, but this is the first time they have co-created a theater piece. It also marks a new style of work for Blake. In addition to his usual shtick, he sings and plays harmonica while Tyler plays guitar, sings harmonies, and pounds out rhythms using kick drum pedals on an old fashioned suitcase and tambourine. The result is an auditory collage which drifts seamlessly between storytelling, spoken word poetry, and song.

The show begins with the struggle small business owners face in New York amidst soaring rents and the corporate homogenization of our urban landscape. Blake shares an experience he had with the owner of a chess shop in Greenwich Village who asked, “how long until this whole city becomes a Starbucks?” While the chess shop means a lot to a lot of different people, it’s days may be numbered and the owner knows that. Blake relates this economic insecurity to his own experience as an artist who feels driven to contribute to the world in ways the market fails to appreciate. In a swingin’ folk rag, he sings: “Now I’m aware art doesn’t pay / And you can see that’s not the point form a mile away / It’s just hard to do when you got bills to pay / But life is hard. That’s what they say, right?”

Things take an unexpected turn when the exponential growth of technology enters the equation. Experts warn that breakthroughs in AI could disrupt our economy in ways few people acknowledge. While mass unemployment is entirely possible, Blake offers a more optimistic take. He imagines a future in which automation frees the masses from wage-slave toil for mere survival and allows people to pursue something other than money. He concedes there are obstacles to enacting this vision, but argues the current paradigm is incompatible with the future of AI. What seems radical today may simply be ahead of its time.

Directed by Bryn Herdrich

Workshop April 9th at The Bitter End at 6:30pm - $10 cover plus a 2 drink minimum

Past Work: 

Prelude to the Apocalypse (For What It's Worth) 

Prelude to the Apocalypse (For What It's Worth) engages with the climate crises through the lens of evolutionary time, the biblical apocalypse, and the process of growing up as a person and a society. It all takes place in the shadow of a giant hourglass. Nevertheless, the universe breathes on.

Prelude to the Apocalypse premiered at La MaMa ETC in February 2018 as part of their 56th season. Blake was one of four solo artists to be featured in Series of One which La MaMa described as "a platform for provocative, challenging solo performances." Through a blend of personal narrative, social commentary, and pop-science performance art Blake brings a fresh take to the climate crises.

Directed by Jacob Sexton with sound & video design by Lawrence Schober, lighting by Megan Lang, installation design by Blake Sugarman, and choreography by Louisa Barta.

 

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Early work:

 

 

KALEIDOSCOPE EYES  

is a clumsy quest to meet the I of the beholder: that illusive interpreter who translates the world into thoughts and shoots it through your synapses muddled and abused. That guy (or girl) (or spiritual essence). Where art thou? 

The following clips are from a production at NYU's Experimental Theatre Wing in 2014. The first clip shows the visual landscape of the piece while the second one demonstrates Blake's storytelling style.

 
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Urbanized Appalachian 

Soul-Rebel

is a whimsical look at social indoctrination and existential angst. It was first performed at the Balagula Theatre in Lexington, KY and later at Atlantic Stage 2 in NYC. The second rendition of the piece also included art installations and tableaux vivant that were on view as the audience entered the space. The following clip is from the opening sequence of the NYC production in 2012.