Gelsey Bell, voice, metallophone, and sound design
Erik Ruin, shadow puppets and projections
Rick Burkhardt, director
Prisoner’s Song is a performance created by composer Gelsey Bell and visual artist Erik Ruin about the prison experience. Using shadow puppets and projections alongside a variety of musical idioms, the piece draws on historic ballads, poetry, audio interviews with people who have spent time in prison, and other primary sources to create a fragmentary encounter with the states of mind and heart prison engenders.
Gelsey Bell (composer, performer) is a singer, songwriter, and scholar. She has been described by the New York Times as a “winning soprano” whose performance of her own music is “virtuosic” and “glorious noise.” She has released multiple albums and her work has been presented internationally. She is a core member of thingNY and Varispeed. She has also worked with numerous composers, choreographers, and performance creators including Robert Ashley, Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler, Kimberly Bartosik, Ne(x)tworks, Dave Malloy, Rachel Chavkin, John King, Chris Cochrane and Fast Forward, Gregory Whitehead, Kate Soper, and Rick Burkhardt, among others. www.gelseybell.com
Erik Ruin (visual artist, performer) is a Michigan-raised, Philadelphia-based printmaker, shadow puppeteer, paper-cut artist, etc. His work oscillates between the poles of apocalyptic anxieties and utopian yearnings, with an emphasis on empathy, transcendence and obsessive detail. He frequently works collaboratively with musicians, theater performers, other artists and activist campaigns. He is a founding member of the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative. www.erikruin.com
Rick Burkhardt (director) is an Obie-award-winning playwright, performer, composer, songwriter, and director whose original chamber music, theater, and text pieces have been performed in over 40 US cities, as well as in Europe, Mexico, Canada, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand. He is a founding member of the Nonsense Company, a touring experimental music/theater trio, and songwriter/accordionist for the Prince Myshkins, a political cabaret/folk duo.
Gelsey Bell: Prisoner’s Song is made possible, in part, by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and by the Jerome Foundation. This is the second presentation of three concerts as part of Bell’s Artist Residency at Roulette.
Over the last 33 years the Jerome Foundation has awarded Roulette almost $1 million, supporting hundreds of emerging artists through Roulette commissions, residencies and presentations. This sustained support has helped Roulette welcome successive generations of experimental artists into our community and onto our stage.