Spotlight on Jaki Bradley: Never play it the same way twice

All March and April we’ll be introducing you to the remarkable artists who will be bringing our singular and explosive theatrical event, Playing Hot, to Midtown starting April 18. Today we are pleased to introduce you to Jaki Bradley, co-creator and director, who has been part of the creation of this show from day one. Learn all about Jaki below, and if you’re hungry for even more keep reading with our interviews with co-creator and co-writer Kevin Armento, co-writer C.A. Johnson, and music supervisor Marcus Miller.

Pipeline Theatre Company: Why are you working on this project? What is most exciting to you about being part of Playing Hot?

Jaki Bradley: This show contains everything I’m interested in as an artist – a formally inventive piece, an important untold story, a different way of looking at theater and its audience – but at this point, the show is mostly about the people who have brought it to life. The company is like family, and I’m mostly honored to be bringing the show to life alongside them.

PTC: What do you want the folks reading this to know about Playing Hot? What’s the most important element of this project to you?

JB: When we starting developing Playing Hot, we wanted to honor Buddy Bolden’s story and legacy, and to create a play written in the style of the art form he invented, jazz. The show riffs on the narrative the same way Buddy riffed with notes on the page, which allows us to interrogate aspects of the story as we’re telling it. AND it’s a party!

PTC: If you were to write a tagline for Playing Hot, what would it be?

JB: There’s a note at the beginning of the script that says “Never play it the same way twice,” and that really sums it up for me.

PTC: Talk to us about the very beginning of you work on this? How did it start?

JB: In a way, I started working on this show 15 years ago when I read Michael Oondaatje’s Coming Through Slaughter, a novel loosely based on the story of Buddy Bolden. The story of this man who invented jazz but left no recordings and only one photograph behind captivated and haunted me, and I wanted to find a way to share that story theatrically. But officially, we wrote Pipeline an email with a crazy idea for a brass band-concert-party play in 2015, and have been hard at work on the show since then.

PTC: What drew you to this story in particular? What makes this urgent for you?

JB: I want more people to know about Buddy Bolden because his contribution is in every song we listen to today, and through a combination of bad timing (he played about 15 years before radios were in every household) and white supremacy, most people don’t know his name. I also think Buddy’s story allows us to ask broader questions about the cost of genius and the cycles of appropriation in art and popular culture.

Jaki and Playing Hot co-creator and co-writer Kevin Armento just finished writing a feature film, a horror movie titled Detox. She’s also got a slate of plays and short films on the horizon, you can keep up with all of it on her website, Follow her on Instagram at @jakibradley. And don’t forget to grab those Playing Hot tickets today!