By Jaymes Jorsling
Inspired by Sam Stephenson's The Jazz Loft Project: Photographs and Tapes of W. Eugene Smith from 821 Sixth Avenue, 1957-1965
Directed by: Christopher McElroen
Music by: Tony Jarvis
Sound Designer: Matt Kraus
Video Designer: Alex Koch
Cast: Joseph Adams, McCaleb Burnett, Raul Castillo, Florencia Lozano, Christopher Mirto, Julian Rozzell Jr, Chris Stack, Keith Randolph Smith, PJ Sosko and Julia Watt.
December 12, 2013 | A reading at The WNYC Greene Space | New York City
(A)Loft Modulation, by Jaymes Jorsling, has been described as a cross between August Wilson's Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, Samuel Beckett's Krapp’s Last Tape, and John Logan's Red.
In January 1955 W. Eugene Smith, a celebrated photographer at Life magazine, quit his longtime well-paying job in search of greater freedom and artistic license.
Two years later, in 1957, he moved into a dilapidated, five-story loft building at 821 Sixth Avenue in New York City’s wholesale flower district. The building was a late-night haunt of some of the biggest names in jazz—Charles Mingus, Zoot Sims, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk—and countless fascinating, underground characters.
From 1957 to 1965, Smith exposed 1,447 rolls of film at the loft, making roughly 40,000 pictures. He wired the building like a surreptitious recording studio and made 1,740 reels (4,500 hours) of audiotape, capturing hundreds of musicians, icons and obscure figures alike.
(A)Loft Modulation traces the roiling obsessions of the artists in the building against the backdrop of the social chaos growing in American culture at large.