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Edgar Arceneaux

Until, Until, Until…

20 October 2017 - 21 January 2018

Until, Until, Until… is a look back at Broadway legend Ben Vereen’s controversial performance at Ronald Reagan’s inaugural celebration in 1981. At this event, Vereen staged a musical number in homage to the trailblasing vaudeville performer Bert Williams who, because of racist laws dictating who could appear on stage, always performed in ‘blackface’ makeup.

For his performance, Vereen also donned ‘blackface’ to access the vulnerability and reality of Williams’ legacy. Unfortunately, the television audience never saw the second half of Vereen’s performance, where the actor attended to the issue of race and blackface in Williams’ own words. The incomplete broadcast triggered a devastating backlash amongst Vereen’s audience and followers and completely derailed his career.

Until Until Until… re-stages Vereen’s original performance in its entirety. Both a celebration of Vereen’s performance and a powerful re-visitation of an important historical event, the work reflects on the power of the media, its ability to manipulate reality, and the devastating consequences for the public. .