“Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons”
A Record Album Interpretation

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THE B-SIDE is based on the 1965 LP “Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons,” which features work songs, blues, spirituals, preaching, and toasts from inmates in Texas’ then-segregated agricultural prison farms. The album was brought to The Wooster Group by performer Eric Berryman after he saw the Group’s previous record album interpretation EARLY SHAKER SPIRITUALS. In THE B-SIDE, Berryman plays the album and transmits the material live, by channeling, via an in-ear receiver, the voices of the men on the record. Accompanying him are Jasper McGruder and Philip Moore. Berryman also provides context from the book Wake Up Dead Man: Hard Labor and Southern Blues by Bruce Jackson, the folklorist who recorded the album at the prison in 1964 and is now a SUNY Distinguished Professor at the University at Buffalo.

Upcoming Performances

Buffalo, New York

The University at Buffalo
Center for the Arts
Black Box Theater
February 8 – 11, 2018

Learn more and reserve seats »

Production Credits

“Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons”
A Record Album Interpretation

With Eric Berryman, Jasper McGruder, Philip Moore

Director: Kate Valk
Mise en Scène: Elizabeth LeCompte
Lighting: Ryan Seelig
Sound: Eric Sluyter
Video: Robert Wuss
Costumes: Enver Chakartash
Musical Director: Gareth Hobbs
Stage Manager / Video Operator: Erin Mullin
Set Building: Joseph Silovsky Studios
Videographer: Zbigniew Bzymek
Production Manager: Bona Lee

Thanks to Ruud van den Akker, Antonia Belt, Diane Christian, and Jennifer Tipton.

Based on Negro Folklore From Texas State Prisons (Elektra 1965), an LP recorded, edited, and anonotated by Bruce Jackson, featuring performances by Johnnie Adams, W.D. “Alec” Alexander, Virgil Asbury, John Bell, Douglas Cannon, James A. Champion, William Evans, John Gibson, James Hampton, James W. Hobbs, Louis “Bacon & Porkchop” Houston, Johnny Jackson, Floyd James, Lemon Jefferson, Jesse “G.I. Jazz” Hendricks, James Johnson, Joseph “Chinaman” Johnson, C.B. “Snuffy” Kimble, Henry Landers, L.Z. Lee, Clem A. Martin, Leroy Martindell, Mack Maze, D.J. Miller, Houston Page, Marshall Phillips, Johnnie H. Robinson, Arthur “Lightning” Sherrod, Albert Spencer, Lee Curtis Tyler, David Walker, Jesse Lee Warren, Venesty Weles, George White, Morgan White, Matt Williams, and Eddie Ray Zachary.

Film footage from Afro-American Worksongs in a Texas Prison, by Pete, Toshi and Dan Seeger, and Bruce Jackson, 1966.

This piece is made possible by: the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, which awarded Mr. Berryman a 2016-17 honorarium in theater; the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, which awarded Ms. Valk a fellowship in 2016; the Persephone Gift; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

Production History

2016 January 27-30, February 16-18, March 9, 14, 23, 30, April 6, 13, 27: Rehearsals of THE B-SIDE at The Performing Garage
2016 August 8-26: Rehearsals of THE B-SIDE at The Performing Garage
2016 October 20-November 8: Rehearsals of THE B-SIDE at The Performing Garage
2016 November 9-19: Work-in-progress showings of THE B-SIDE at The Performing Garage
2017 September 8-10: Performances at the Wellspring Theatre, Taipei Arts Festival, Taiwan
2017 September 23-24: Performances at the Asia Culture Center, Gwangju, Republic of Korea
Performances in Taipei and Gwangju were supported by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation through USArtists International in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Howard Gilman Foundation.

2017 October 25-November 19: Performances of THE B-SIDE at The Performing Garage