Artist Daniel Alexander Jones Expands His Black Queer Galaxy with Two New Books and an Immersive Digital Music Project Including a New Al

“Daniel is a boundary breaking visionary, an extraordinary artist-shaman…He is what the world needs now.” – Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director, The Public Theater

“In difficult times Jomama Jones is an artist whose company you want.” – Village Voice

“A true theatrical original” – Backstage

New York City, NY — Long at the vanguard of Black Queer performance art, celebrated theater artist/playwright/songwriter Daniel Alexander Jones today announced a plethora of upcoming projects solidifying his influence as one of today’s foremost voices. On the heels of winning the 2021 PEN America Laura Pels Foundation Theatre Award, Jones releases two books (53rd State Press): Love Like Light, a landmark collection of his plays and performance texts from the last 25 years, and Particle and Wave, a conversation with leading Black Feminist scholar Alexis Pauline Gumbs. Due to COVID-19 pandemic restraints, Jones exploded his live performance series, Aten, into a digital universe while he was Resident Artist at CalArts Center for New Performance. Starting with a September 22nd digital album release, Aten features Jones and his soul sonic superstar alter-ego Jomama Jones exploring our solar system one heavenly body at a time. The interactive website www.aten.life will feature music videos for each of the 15 songs along with creative prompts for visitors to use in their daily lives, and a podcast series of “Constellation Conversations” with a range of artists, scholars, and activists, discussing the core questions each celestial object contains. (Scroll below for a complete schedule of 2021 happenings.)

Hailed for his transformational and transcendental performance and writing, Jones continues to change lives with his mere presence. According to Jones, now is the time to guide ourselves with works of beauty, spirit, strength, and truth. “With increased urgency and focus, our ever-fragmented world needs communal rites of passage, and the celebration of the fullness of human capacity and agency. We are collectively made, shaped by communities of others who influence us with their gravity. I strive to create work that reminds, recenters, reignites, through artistic ritual practice, a lived experience-in-time of vulnerable presence, integral intelligence, radical imagination, and boundless creativity. I always work to get us all free.”

This Fall marks the release of two of Jones’s books: Love Like Light and its companion volume Particle and Wave. The former is a collection of Jones’s revolutionary work of the past 25 years comprising seven plays and performance texts: Bel CantoBlack Light, clayangelsDuatPhoenix FabrikThe Book of Daniel, and Blood: Shock: Boogie. Each play is a provocation to the possibility of a more just world with love as civic practice at its center. According to award-winning American playwright Sarah Ruhl, Jones is a poet of mighty theatrical proportions. “Seeing his plays is like getting baptized. With depth and mercurial ease, Daniel’s plays and performances widen the human circle and help us see each other more fully. I am so happy to be able to hold Daniel’s plays in my hands in this volume. They are a true gift, particularly during this bleak moment in history. Daniel is a transmitter of light.” The companion book, Particle and Wave, features a compelling conversation between Jones and poet, scholar, and activist Alexis Pauline Gumbs about Love Like Light and the way that love, like light, suffuses everything and is the condition and power of change in the world.

In addition to his new books and complementary author talks and panel discussions, Jones releases a new digital project this season. Inspired by the Sun’s radiance and its sustaining light, Aten is a musical meditation on our Sun, planets, and Earth’s moon. “Each of the planetary bodies have undergone and continue to undergo changes both visible and not, yet they are still recognizably themselves,” explains Jones. “So, too, we are each shaped and held by the gravity of our experiences and marked by our relationships as we move through our lives, never in the same place or time twice, but somehow, ourselves.” Originally a live performance series commissioned by The Public Theater, created with support from New York Live Arts, and produced and presented with CalArts Center for New Performance, Jones leapt into new territory and reimagined the project as a music album with 15 new original songs composed with multi-instrumentalist Josh Quat, a series of accompanying music videos directed by Jones with Nicolas Savignano, and a series of conversations with thought leaders who engage the questions each planet contains. Jones is joined on the album and in the videos by guest artists Rhonda Ross (daughter of Diana Ross) and Lady Krishna (Natasha Shulman) among others.

About Daniel Alexander Jones          

Daniel Alexander Jones exemplifies the artist-as-energy worker. His wildflower body of original work includes plays, performance pieces, recorded music, concerts, music theatre events, essays, and long-form improvisations. He explores the esoteric and the everyday through his own distinctive dramaturgy. Jones’s critically acclaimed pieces include Radiate (Soho Rep and National Tour; Black Light (Public Theater, Greenwich House Theatre, American Repertory Theatre, Penumbra Theatre); Duat (Soho Rep); An Integrator’s Manual (La MaMa, etc. and Fusebox Festival). Jones has recorded six albums of original songs as his alter-ego, Jomama Jones. Daniel’s current project, http://www.aten.life, significantly expands his digital media presence. He has been a part of arts communities in New York City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Austin, Boston, and Los Angeles, where he bases his practice. Jones directed world-premieres of new plays and performance pieces by E. Patrick Johnson, Erik Ehn, Renita Martin, and Shay Youngblood, among others. He is a company member of Penumbra Theatre Company in St. Paul; an associate company member of Pillsbury House Theatre in Minneapolis; an alumnus of New Dramatists and was a company member of Frontera@Hyde Park Theatre in Austin.

Jones was honored with the PEN America Laura Pels Foundation Theatre Award in 2021. Daniel is a TED Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and the recipient of the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award, a Doris Duke Artist Award, an Alpert Award in the Arts, a USA Artist Fellowship, an Arts Matters grant, an inaugural Creative Capital Grant, a McKnight National Residency and Commission, a Howard Foundation Fellowship, a NEA/TCG Playwriting Residency, a Jerome Fellowship, and a Many Voices Playwriting Fellowship. Jones was the lead artist on five projects awarded support by the MAP Fund and is a NEFA National Theatre Project grantee. Daniel has been a Mellon Creative Research Fellow at the University of Washington, a Hume Fellow at Occidental College, a Fellow at the Hemispheric Institute at NYU, and has been in residence at several colleges and universities across the country including CalArts and UCLA’s Center for New Performance. Jones received a Bistro Award for Outstanding Performance Artistry for Jomama Jones, and a Franky Award from the Prelude Festival in recognition of long-term, extraordinary impact on contemporary theatre and performance.

Daniel Alexander Jones completed his undergraduate study at Vassar College in Africana Studies with a focus on literature and the arts under the guidance of Dr. Constance E. Berkley, and his graduate study at Brown University in Theatre where he worked with Rites and Reason Theatre and was mentored by Aishah Rahman. He is a widely respected, innovative educator who has taught across the United States and held faculty positions at Goddard College, The University of Texas at Austin, and most recently at Fordham University, where he is a Full Professor in the Department of Theatre and Visual Arts. He is a frequent essayist, with contributions published by Theater magazine and HowlRound. danielalexanderjones.com

Upcoming Events                                                                                       

Sep 3 @ 7:00 p.m. EST | TCG Virtual Talk

A virtual talk with Daniel Alexander Jones hosted by The Theatre Communications Group

The Theatre Communications Group (TCG) hosts First Fridays with Daniel Alexander Jones, an up close and personal conversation with Jones discussing his forthcoming publication of Love Like Light with frequent collaborator and artistic director of New Dramatists Emily Morse, presented in partnership with publisher 53rd State Press. Tune in to TCG Facebook Page: Facebook.com/TCG.org. Tickets: FREE.

Sep 15 | Particle and Wave Book Release

Particle and Wave (53rd State Press) is a reflection collection on Jones’s Love Like Light book. In a roving, shimmering conversation that took place in May 2021, scholar, poet, and activist Alexis Pauline Gumbs and playwright, songwriter, performance artist, and educator Daniel Alexander Jones discuss love as a foundational principle of artistic practice and societal change. 

Purchase: 53rdStatePress.org.

Sep 20 | Love Like Light Book Release

Love Like Light (53rd State Press) is a collection of Jones’s seven plays and performance texts from the past 25 years. This volume offers a panoramic view of Jones’s shifting, glimmering, transformational body of work. Love Like Light is also a reunion of collaborators and friends, featuring essays by Vicky Boone, Jacques Colimon, Eisa Davis, Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, korde arrington tuttle, Aaron Landsman, Deborah Paredez, and Shay Youngblood and an interview with Faye Price. Purchase: 53rdStatePress.org.

Sep 22 | Aten Album Release

A project of CalArts Center for New Performance, the digital release of Aten (Aries Records) marks Jones’s sixth album. The digital version is slated for 9.22 followed by a vinyl release later in 2021. Composed and performed by Daniel Alexander Jones and his alter-ego Jomama Jones, this 15-song cycle features guest artists Lady Krishna and Rhonda Ross. Aten is commissioned by The Public Theater and created with support from CalArts Center for New Performance and New York Live Arts’ Live Feed Residency, with funding from Rockefeller Brothers Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and the Partners for New Performance.  Purchase Download: FREE at ATEN.life and all major online retailers.

Sep 22-Dec 1 | Aten Video Releases “Constellation Conversations” Podcast Series

A project of CalArts Center for New Performance, the digital release of Aten (Aries Records) will be accompanied by weekly music video releases and “Constellation Conversations” podcast series featuring intimate, profound talks between Jones and guest artists starting with Black, Queer shamanic practitioner Langston Kahn. The ATEN.life website serves as an interactive platform for audiences to continue and participate in the conversations online. Aten is commissioned by The Public Theater and created with support from CalArts Center for New Performance and New York Live Arts’ Live Feed Residency, with funding from Rockefeller Brothers Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and the Partners for New Performance.  Learn more and tune in at ATEN.life.

Oct 2 @ 12:00 p.m. EST | DAJ’s Saturday Morning Book Release Party

The 53rd State Press publishing company, along with National Black Theatre, Penumbra Theater, and New Dramatists, hosts a virtual celebration of the launch of Love Like Light with readings and  conversation with Daniel Alexander Jones. Participants include Rhonda Ross, Vinie Burrows, Eisa Davis, Jason Phelps, Sarah Bellamy, Jonathan McCrory, and Omi Osun Joni L. Jones. Tickets: FREE. Watch Facebook Live at 53rd State Press’s Facebook Page.

Dec 3 @ 5:00 p.m. EST | Jomama Jones’s Celestial Holiday Spectacular

Location: New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street, New York City

Join Jomama Jones and friends for a celebratory in-person gathering. Along with a live musical set and some exciting games and prizes, Jones will guide everyone together to create a real-time altar in honor of the shifting of the season and the completion of a challenging year. The first 50 folks to reserve a spot will receive a voucher for a complimentary copy of the vinyl release of Aten.

Tickets: On Sale Sep 22 at newyorklivearts.org.