• The Whole Shebang (map)
  • 1813 South 11th Street
  • Philadelphia, PA, 19148
  • United States

October 18th, 2017 at The Whole Shebang and FringeArt
presented by The Institute for Somatics and Social Justice
co-sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace - Philadelphia

The Judaica project (Ben Spatz, US; Nazlıhan Eda Erçin, Turkey; Agnieszka Mendel, Poland) is a laboratory for new embodied technique at the crossroads of experimental performance, critical identity politics, and ethnomusicological archives. We work with jewish songs from all over the world in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, Turkish, Luganda, English, and other languages. In Philadelphia we will present all facets of our research through a live lecture performance as well as a practical workshop and video screenings. Come explore songwork, theatrical creation, and embodied research in this multi-faceted theatre/laboratory event.

Workshop: Introduction to Songwork at The Whole Shebang, 10am-1pm, suggested donation sliding scale $15-$35 (no one will be turned away)

This workshop will introduce the extended songwork practice developed by the Judaica project. Participants will work with jewish songs in a variety of languages and discover how the act of singing can transform bodies and spaces. We will explore relationships between harmony and rhythm, body and voice, individual and group, identity and technique. Based on the interests and backgrounds of the participants we may also investigate issues of cultural authority and appropriation, intellectual property, and participatory coauthorship in the digital age.

Screenings: The Video Way of Thinking at The Whole Shebang, 1-4pm, (come and go as you please), $5-$15 suggested sliding scale donation (no one will be turned away)

The Judaica project has developed new approaches to videomaking that center embodiment and embodied knowledge. We will screen excerpts from our extensive Songwork Catalogue as well as a series of ‘illuminated’ video essays that juxtapose text and image to get underneath the skin of the audiovisual and articulate new ways of thinking through video.

Performance: What is a Song? at FringeArts, 7-8pm, $10-15 suggested donation

The Judaica project team comes to Philadelphia after six weeks of continuous travel and events in Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Our theatrical performance lecture combines embodied practice with critical analysis and structured participation in radically new ways that explore the role of audiovisual recording in the contemporary ethics and politics of embodiment. Responding to the vision of the Institute for Somatics and Social Justice, we will ask how embodied research both within and beyond the university can contribute to a more just and sustainable world. Movement, voice, language, and video will be woven together in this unique event.

Panel Discussion with The Institute for Somatics and Social Justice at FringeArts, 8-9pm, Free

Fatima Adamu, Dan Blacksberg, Lela Aisha Jones and Ezra Berkley Nepon will respond to the issues raised by the Judaica project concerning the politics of identity, and the body as archive in the digital era, moderated by Nicole Bindler.


Ben Spatz is Senior Lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Performance at University of Huddersfield; author of What a Body Can Do: Technique as Knowledge, Practice as Research (Routledge 2015); editor of the new videographic Journal of Embodied Research; and 2016-2018 UK Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellow with the project ‘Judaica: An Embodied Laboratory for Song-Action’. Recent talks and workshops include ‘What is a song?’ (The British Library), ‘Beyond Performer Training’ (University of Kent), ‘Reading Grotowski in the Anthropocene’ (University of the Arts Helsinki), and ‘Future Documents: Video Epistemology and Embodied Research’ (University of Manchester; University of Aberdeen).

Nazlıhan Eda Erçin is a performer, researcher and educator, working at the intersection of practice as research, physical theatre, non-stylized somatic movement, gender and performance studies. She holds a BA degree in Sociology with a Minor in Political Science from Middle East Technical University (Ankara, Turkey), an MA degree in Performance Studies from Southern Illinois University Carbondale (USA) as a Fulbright Alumni, and is currently a PhD candidate in Drama/Performance Practice at the University of Exeter (UK) funded by College of Humanities International Studentship. Prior to her PhD research, she worked with ODTU Oyuncuları / METU Players (Ankara), Ankara Sanat Tiyatrosu / Ankara Art Theatre (Ankara), Cornerstone Theater Company (LA) and Double Edge Theatre (Massachusetts) where she developed a growing interest in body-centered performance methodologies.

Agnieszka Mendel is a singer, actress, ethnologist, voice and theatre teacher. She is fascinated by the possibilities of the human voice and uses songs from many cultures to search for vocal techniques and emotionality. She has trained in Hindustani Vocal Music at Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra in New Delhi and at the Natural Voice Perfection Institute. For 15 years she was closely associated with the Gardzienice Centre for Theatre Practices in Poland where she played leading roles in the performances Metamorphosis, Elektra, Ifigenia in A..., Ifigenia in T...,and Pythian Oratorio, and conducted many workshop sessions for actors and singers from around the world. Poet and composer, co-author and performer of her own music and theater projects, she is the beneficiary of several artistic scholarships and awards for achievements in the arts and the protection and promotion of cultural goods.

For more information, additional events, and multimedia documentation, please visit: www.urbanresearchtheater.com



Fatima Adamu has worked in the fields of city planning, yoga, personal training and dance. As a woman who grew up in Nigeria, West Africa with a Nigerian, Muslim father and African-American mother, she is curious about the intersections of race, American concepts of diversity, access to opportunity, health outcomes and gender dynamics.

Nicole Bindler is a body-based performing artist, writer, activist, and founder/director of The Institute for Somatics and Social Justice. Bindler recently toured her piece WOMEN, in collaboration with Diyar Theater, a company based in Palestine. She teaches Somatics and Yoga at Temple University, is a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace artist council, and writes for thINKingDANCE.

Dan Blacksberg is a trombonist carving out new paths in both Jewish and experimental music. From performing and recording with klezmer musicians like Elaine Hoffman Watts and Adrienne Cooper, to experimentalists George Lewis and Anthony Braxton, his work spans from the traditional to the avant-garde and radical spaces in between. His newest album Radiant Others will be the first klezmer album to feature the trombone as the lead instrument.

Lela Aisha Jones is a movement artist that archives and performs lived experiences of blackness by intertwining personal history, diasporic movement, and social commentary. As lead organizer for the Dancing for Justice Philadelphia Initiative, she offers individual and collective processing spaces that build racial consciousness and make visible oppressive systems.

Ezra Berkley Nepon, author of Dazzle Camouflage: Spectacular Theatrical Strategies for Resistance and Resilience (2016), is a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace artist council and a recipient of the Leeway Transformation Award (2014). Based in Philadelphia, Ezra is passionate about collective liberation and musical theater.