Etcetera Theatre

BlackBox: Mr Mineshaft

BlackBox: Mr Mineshaft

Bio-piece on controversial composer Julius Eastman

Mr Mineshaft by Ben Miller

’Mr Mineshaft’ explores and exposes the extraordinary life and work of forgotten black composer, Julius Eastman, articulating his pitiful fall from the heights of the American avant grade to the depths of drug addiction, vagrancy, and early death.

Eastman is a lost genius - a virtuoso musician, classical composer, vocalist, dancer, and gay rights activist lost by posterity. At the height of his career he toured across Europe and played with eminent artists like John Cage, Arthur Russell, and Meredith Monk, whilst simultaneously embracing the heady New York gay scene centred around the meat-packing district, sometimes arriving for classical music rehearsals wearing army boots, a military jacket and vest, and holding a bottle of scotch.

However, after his increasing dependence on alcohol and drugs, and his growing frustration with lack of artistic opportunities for black and gay men, his life fell apart. He was evicted from his apartment, losing many of his scores, he failed to gain a promised lectureship at Cornell University, and he eventually became a vagrant in Tompkins Square Park, New York. He died alone several years later in 1990 (at the age of 49), of reported ’cardiac arrest’, possibly due to complications related to HIV.

’Mr Mineshaft’ rediscovers and celebrates his remarkable life and fall from grace - something never more relevant today. #Blacklivesmatter


Limited double bill £15 tickets for Mr Mineshaft  & Bararella’s Bang Bang, an incredible European Gypsy Jazz Punk band fronted by Frida Kahlo meets Gwen Stefani virtuoso singer available here:


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