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Poet/spoken word performer Carl Hancock Rux was born and raised in Harlem, NY; a product of the city's foster care system, he later attended Columbia University. Named "One of 30 Artists Under the Age of 30 Most Likely to Influence Culture Over the Next 30 Years" in 1994 by The New York Times, over time Rux increasingly began incorporating elements of hip-hop, jazz, and R&B into his live poetry readings, and in 1999 he released his debut album, Rux Revue. Apothecary RX followed five years later on the Giant Step label. Good Bread Alley from 2006 found him on Thirsty Ear.
Carl Hancock Rux (born March 24, in Harlem, New York City) is an American interdisciplinary performative artist, published poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright. He is best known as the author of the OBIE Award-winning play Talk; the dystopian fiction Asphalt and several music recordings. Rux is one of the original contributing writers of the triannual Nka Journal of Contemporary African Art (founded by fellow art critics Okwui Enwezor, Chika Okeke-Agulu and Salah Hassan) and his writings have appeared in numerous journals, catalogues, books, and magazines including Interview magazine, Essence magazine, the New York Times, aRude Magazine, and American Theater Magazine. His archives are housed at the Billy Rose Theater Division of the New York Public Library, The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art as well as the Film and Video/Theater and Dance Library of the California Institute of the Arts. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Alpert Award in the Arts.
Early life and influences
Born Carl Stephen Hancock in Harlem, New York, Rux's biological mother (Carol Jean Hancock) suffered from schizophrenia and was institutionalized shortly after his birth. The identity of his biological father is unknown. When he was four years old his maternal grandmother died (due to alcoholism). He entered the New York City foster care system and eventually, lived under the guardianship of his great uncle, James Henry Rux (a WWII veteran) and his wife Arsula (née Cottrell). Legally adopted by the couple at the age of fifteen, his surname was changed to Rux, though his U.S. passport identifies him as Carl Stephen Hancock Rux. As a teenager, Carl Rux was exposed to jazz music by his adoptive parents, including the work of Oscar Brown Jr., John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln. While heavily influenced by jazz music traditions, he also became a member of the Harlem Writers Workshop, a summer journalism training program for inner city youth founded by African-American journalists, sponsored by Columbia University and The Xerox Corporation. Unable to decide between music, literature, and theater he entered the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts where he studied visual art and eventually double majored in voice, during which time he sang with the Boys Choir of Harlem and Hezekiah Walker's Love Fellowship gospel choir. Upon graduation from high school he took private acting classes at both HB studios, Gertrude Jeanette's Hadley Players as well as privately with actor Robert Earl Jones (father of actor James Earl Jones). He is a graduate of Columbia University, and also studied at the American University of Paris as well as the University of Ghana at Legon. After graduating college, Rux wrote theater, film and music criticism for several magazines and publications including Essence magazine, Interview magazine (and later) American Theater magazine. During this time Rux also became influenced by the Lower East Side poetry scene and exposed to the work of poets Miguel Algarin, Bob Holman, Jayne Cortez, Sekou Sundiata, Ntozake Shange; experimental musicians David Murray, Mal Waldron, Butch Morris, Craig Harris, singer Jeanne Lee; experimental theater artists Laurie Carlos, Robbie McCauley, Ruth Maleczech and Lee Breuer."Carl Hancock Rux". eMusic. Retrieved May 30, 2013. Lewis, John (June 6, 2001). From birth to the age of four he lived with his maternal grandmother, Geneva Hancock (née Rux), great-uncle and extended family members in an apartment they had occupied since the early 20th-century great migration of African Americans to Harlem "Skin Deep: Carl Hancock Rux's Tales of Black Male". Baltimore City Paper. Stapleton, Lara (January 21, 2009). "Carl Hancock Rux With Lara Stapleton",. The Brooklyn Rail. "Forward And Back". The New York Times. October 5, 2003. "Carl Hancock Rux". National Book Foundation. Archived from the original on September 7, 2008.
ContentsWorks1.1 Bibliography1.1.1 Poetry1.1.2 Literary fiction1.1.3 Selected plays1.1.4 Selected anthologies in which work appears1.1.5 Libretti1.2 Discography1.2.1 Solo Albums1.2.2 Appearances1.3 Contemporary Dance (Text &Music)
Rux is one of several poets (including Paul Beatty, Tracie Morris, Dael Orlandersmith, Willie Perdomo, Kevin Powell, Maggie Estep, Reg E. Gaines, Edwin Torres and Saul Williams) to emerge from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, most of whom were included in the poetry anthology Aloud, Voices From the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, winner of the 1994 American Book Award. His first book of poetry, Pagan Operetta, received the Village Voice Literary prize and was featured on the weekly's cover story: "Eight Writers on the Verge of (Impacting) the Literary Landscape". Rux is the author of the novel Asphalt and the author of several plays. His first play, Song of Sad Young Men (written in response to his older brother's death from AIDS), was directed by Trazana Beverly and starred Isaiah Washington and received eleven AUDELCO nominations. His most notable play is the OBIE Award-winning Talk, first produced at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in 2002 and directed by Marion McClinton. The play won seven OBIE awards. Rux is also a recording artist, first featured on Reg E. Gaines CD Sweeper Don't Clean My Streets (Polygram). As a musician, his work is known to encompass an eclectic mixture of blues, rock, vintage R&B, classical music, futuristic pop, soul, poetry, folk, psychedelic music and jazz. His debut CD, Cornbread, Cognac & Collard Green Revolution (unreleased) was produced by Nona Hendryx and Mark Batson, featuring musicians Craig Harris, Ronnie Drayton and Lonnie Plaxico. His CD Rux Revue was recorded and produced in Los Angeles by the Dust Brothers, Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf. Rux recorded a follow up album, Apothecary Rx, (selected by French writer Phillippe Robert for his 2008 publication "Great Black Music": an exhaustive tribute of 110 albums including 1954's "Lady Sings The Blues" by Billie Holiday, the work of Jazz artists Oliver Nelson, Max Roach, John Coltrane, rhythm and blues artists Otis Redding, Ike & Tina Turner, Curtis Mayfield, George Clinton; as well as individual impressions of Fela Kuti, Jimi Hendrix, and Mos Def.) His fourth studio CD, Good Bread Alley, was released by Thirsty Ear Records, and his fifth "Homeostasis" (CD Baby) was released in May 2013. Rux has written and performed (or contributed music) to a proportionate number of dance companies including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company; Jane Comfort & Co. and Ronald K. Brown's "Evidence" among others.
PoetryElmina Blues (poetry) 1995Pagan Operetta (poetry/Short Fiction/SemioText) 1998
Literary fictionAsphalt (novel/Atria, Simon & Schuster) 2004The Exalted (novel) forthcoming
Selected playsSong of Sad Young MenTalkGeneva Cottrell, Waiting for the Dog to DieSmoke, Lilies and JadeSong of Sad Young MenChapter & VersePipePork Dream in the American House of ImageNot the Flesh of OthersSinging In the Womb of AngelsBetter Dayz JonesThe (No) Black Male Show (adapted from a section of Pagan Operetta)MycenaeanAsphaltEtudes (for the Sleep of Other Sleepers)Steel Hammer (co-written by Will Power, Kia Corthran and Regina Taylor for the SITI company, directed by Anne Bogart).The Exalted
Selected anthologies in which work appearsExperiments in a Jazz Aesthetic: Art, Activism, Academia, and the Austin Project University of Texas PressSoul: Black Power, Politics, and Pleasure NYU PressHeights of the Marvelous NYU PressJuncture: 25 Very Good Stories and 12 Excellent Drawings Soft Skull PressDa Capo Best Music Writing 2004: The Year's Finest Writing on Rock, Hip-hop, Jazz, Pop, Country, and More, DeCapo Press
LibrettiMakandal (music by Yosvaney Terry, stage design and costumes by Edouard Duval Carrie, directed by Lars Jan) Harlem StageBlackamoor Angel (music by Deidre Murray; directed by Karin Coonrod) Bard Spiegeltent.
Solo AlbumsCornbread, Cognac, Collard Green Revolution (unreleased/1997)Rux Revue Sony/550 Music (1999)Apothecary Rx Giant Step (2004)Good Bread Alley Thirsty Ear (2006)Homeostasis CD Baby (2013)
AppearancesSweeper Don't Clean My Streets Polygram (1995)Eargasms Vol. 1 (1996)70 Years Coming R. L. Burnside Bongload/Acid Blues Records (1998)Bow Down To The Exit Sign David Holmes Go! Beat (2000)Love Each Other Yukihiro Fukutomi Sony/ Japan (2001)Optometry DJ Spooky Thirsty Ear Recordings (2002)McKay Stephanie Mckay Go! Beat Records/Polydor Records/Universal Records (2003)The Temptation of Saint Anthony (Studio Cast Recording) (2004)Poetry On Record: 98 Poets Read Their Work, 1888-2006 Box Set Shout! Factory (2006)More Than Posthuman-Rise of the Mojosexual Cotillion Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber, TruGROID (2006)The Dogs Are Parading David Holmes Universal (2010)Life Forum Gerald Clayton Concord Jazz (2013)
Contemporary Dance (Text &Music)"Kick The Boot, Raise the Dust An' Fly; A Recipe for Buckin" (chor: Marlies Yearby, chor., Sekou Sundiata, Laurie Carlos,co-authors, music: Craig Harris composer) Performance Space 122, Maison des arts de Créteil (France)"Totin' Business & Carryin' Bones" (chor. Marlies Yearby), Performance Space 122, Maison des arts de Créteil (France)"The Beautiful" (chor: Marlies Yearby, co-author:Laurie Carlos), Judson Church, Tribeca Performing Arts Center*"Yanga", (chor: Anita Gonzalez, music: Cooper-Moore, composer), Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Montclair State College"Asphalt" (dir/chor:Jane Comfort; vocal score: Toshi Reagon, music: DJ Spooky, David Pleasant, Foosh, dramaturgy:Morgan Jenness, costumes: Liz Prince, lighting design: David Ferri ), Joyce Theater, National Tour"Soul Deep" (chor: Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, composer: David Murray), Walker Arts Center, National Tour"Of Urban Intimacies" (chor: Marlies Yearby), Lincoln Center Serious Fun!, Central Park Summerstage, National Tour"That Was Like This/ This Was Like That" (chor: Marlies Yearby, music: Grisha Coleman), Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Central Park Summerstage, National Tour"Shelter" (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater/chor: Jawole Willo Jo Zollar, music: Junior Gabbu Wedderburn)City Center, International Tour"Sweet In The Morning" (chor: Kevin Iega Jeff; Jubilation! Dance Co)"Hair Stories"(chor: Jawole Willa jo Zollar) BAM Theater/Esplanade Theater (Singapore) Hong Kong Arts Festival"Uptown" (chor: Matthew Rushing) Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater"Four Corners" (chor: Ronald K. Brown) Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater"Seeds" (Ailey II; chor: Kevin Iega Jeff) Aaron Davis Hall, Apollo Theater, National Tour"The Artificial Nigger" (chor: Bill T. Jones) Arnie Zane Bill T. Jones Dance Co; music: Daniel Bernard Roumain National Tour"Certo!" (chor: Roberta Garrison, music: Mathew Garrison) Scuola di Danza Mimma Testa in Trastevere (Rome, Italy) Teatro de natal infantil Raffaelly Beligni (Naples, Italy)"Seeking Pyramidic Balance/Flipmode" 2000 (chor: Maia Claire Garrison) 651 Arts"Nevabawarldapece"; Robert Moses Kin/Yerba Buena Performing Arts Center 2012"Helen"; Robert Moses Kin/Yerba Buena Performing Arts Center 2013 "Bookstore". Nuyorican Poet's Bookstore. Retrieved May 30, 2013. Hill, Anthony D.; Barnett, Douglas Q. (2008). Historical Dictionary of African American Theater. Scarecrow Press. p. 428. ISBN 9780810862760. Wishna, Victor (2006). In Their Company: Portraits of American Playwrights. Consortium Book Sales & Dist. ISBN 9781884167546. "Off-Broadway". New York Magazine (New York Media) 23 (32): 145. August 20, 1990. "Isaiah Washington Biography (1963-)". Film Reference. Retrieved May 30, 2013. Rux, Carl Hancock (2004). Talk. Theatre Communications Gr. ISBN 9781559362269. "Carl Hancock Rux, Renaissance Man". Weekend Edition Sunday. NPR. June 27, 2004.
Rux studied acting at the Hagen Institute (under Uta Hagen); the Luleå National Theatre School (Luleå, Sweden) and at the National Theater of Ghana (Accra). Rux has appeared in several theater projects, most notably originating the title role in the folk opera production of The Temptation of St. Anthony, based on the Gustave Flaubert novel, directed by Robert Wilson with book, libretto and music by Bernice Johnson Reagon and costumes by Geoffrey Holder. The production debuted as part of the RuhrTriennale festival in Duisburg Germany with subsequent performances at the Greek Theater in Siracusa, Italy; the Festival di Peralada in Peralada, Spain; the Palacio de Festivales de Cantabria in Santander, Spain; and Sadler's Wells in London, Great Britain; the Teatro Piccinni in Bari, Italy; the Het Muziektheater in Amsterdam, Netherlands; the Teatro Arriaga in Bilbao and the Teatro Espanol in Madrid, Spain. The opera made its American premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music / BAM Next Wave Festival in October 2004 and official "world premiere" at the Paris Opera, becoming the first all African American opera to perform on its stage since the inauguration of the Académie Nationale de Musique - Théâtre de l'Opéra. He also appeared in "Blessing The Boats" by Sekou Sundiata, directed by Rhodessa Jones (River to River Festival, Under The Radar Festival, Joseph Papp Public Theater, Segrestrom Center for the Performing Arts) and appears in the films*The Grand Inquisitor (directed by Tony Torn, screenplay by Ruth Margraff), The Bratz as well as the documentary films "Brooklyn Boheme" (co-directed by Diane Paragas and Nelson George) as well as "Gill Scott Heron: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" (directed by Don Letts for BBC television).
Carl Hancock Rux was the host and artistic programming director of the WBAI radio show, Live from The Nuyorican Poets Cafe; contributing correspondent for XM radio's The Bob Edwards Show and frequent guest host on WNYC.Cite error: The named reference NBF was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
Curator (Art, Activism, Music, Literature, and Performance)The Whitney MuseumSolomon R. Guggenheim MuseumThread Waxing SpaceThe Foundry TheaterThe KitchenHarlem StageThe Jerome L. Greene Performance Space
Rux is formally the Head of the MFA Writing for Performance Program at the California Institute of Arts and has taught and or been an artist in residence at Brown University, Hollins University, UMass at Amhurst, Duke University, Stanford University, University of Iowa, and University of Wisconsin at Madison, among others.
Personal Life & Activism
Rux joined New Yorkers Against Fracking, a new coalition of organizations calling for a fracking ban on natural gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing, lead by actors Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo and musicians Natalie Merchant, Joan Osborne, Tracy Bonham, and numerous others. He was a co-producer ( through a partnership between MAPP International and Harlem Stage) and curator of WeDaPeoples Cabaret, an annual event regarding citizens without borders in a globally interdependent world.A longtime resident of Fort Greene Brooklyn, Carl Rux worked with the Fort Greene association and New York philanthropist Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel to erect a cultural medallion at the Carlton Avenue home where novelist Richard Wright lived between May and October, 1938, and penned his seminal work, Native Son. Rux is a member of Take Back the Night, a foundation seeking to end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence.Brooklyn Boheme. FilmBuff. January 1, 2011. Villarosa, Linda (March 20, 2012). "Group Helps You Find Mr. Wright". The Local. Fort Green/Clinton Hill.