Carl Hancock Rux
Carl Hancock Rux, Harlem Stage Gala, May, 2012
|Born||Carl Stephen Hancock|
New York City, United States
|Occupation||Poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, recording artist, actor, director|
|Literary movement||Afro-Futurism, speculative and dystopian fiction|
|Notable works||Asphalt, Rux Revue, Talk, Pagan Operetta|
|Notable awards||Alpert Award in the Arts, NYFA Prize, Village Voice Literary prize, Obie Award, Bessie Award, (BAX) Arts & Artists in Progress Award|
Carl Hancock Rux is an American poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, actor, director, singer/ songwriter. He is the author of several books including the Village Voice Literary Prize-winning "Pagan Operetta," the novel, Asphalt, and the Obie Award-winning play, Talk. Rux is also a singer/songwriter with four CDs to his credit, as well as a frequent collaborator in the fields of dance, theater, film, and contemporary art . Notable collaborators include Nona Hendryx, Toshi Reagon, Bill T. Jones, Ronald K. Brown, Nick Cave, Anne Bogart, Robert Wilson, Kenny Leon, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Jonathan Demme, Stanley Nelson Jr., Carrie Mae Weems, Glenn Ligon and others. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Doris Duke Award for New Works, the Doris Duke Charitable Fund, the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Prize, the Bessie Award and the Alpert Award in the Arts, and a 2019 Global Change Maker award by WeMakeChange.Org. His archives are housed at the Billy Rose Theater Division of the New York Public Library, the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution as well as the Film and Video/Theater and Dance Library of the California Institute of the Arts.
Rux was born Carl Stephen Hancock in Harlem, New York. His biological mother, Carol Jean Hancock, suffered from chronic mental illness, diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, and was institutionalized shortly after the birth of his older brother. Rux was born the result of an illegitimate pregnancy (while his mother was under the care of a New York City psychiatric institution). The identity of Rux's biological father is unknown. Rux was placed under the guardianship of his maternal grandmother, Geneva Hancock (née Rux), until her death of cirrhosis of the liver due to alcoholism. At four years of age he entered the New York City foster care system where he remained until he was eventually placed under the legal guardianship of his great uncle (grandmother's brother) James Henry Rux and his wife Arsula (née Cottrell) and raised on a step street in the Highbridge section of the Bronx, later used as the filming location for the stairway dance scene in the 2019 film Joker.
Rux attended PS 73, Roberto Clemente Junior High School and received a scholarship to the Horace Mann School, an independent Ivy college preparatory school in the Riverdale section of the Bronx before transferring to the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts where he studied visual art. Exposed to jazz music by his legal guardians, including the work of Oscar Brown Jr., John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln, Rux eventually double-majored in music/voice, and sang with the Boys Choir of Harlem. 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. At the age of 15, Rux was legally adopted by his guardians and his surname changed to Rux. Upon graduation from high school he entered Columbia College where he studied in the Creative Writing Program; took private acting classes at both HB studios; and trained with Gertrude Jeanette's Hadley Players as well as actor Robert Earl Jones (father of actor James Earl Jones). Rux continued his studies at Columbia University, American University of Paris, as well as the University of Ghana at Legon.
Working as a Social Work Trainer while moonlighting as a freelance art and music critic, Rux became a founding member of Hezekiah Walker's Love Fellowship gospel choir and later found himself influenced by the Lower East Side poetry and experimental theater scene, collaborating with poets Miguel Algarin, Bob Holman, Jayne Cortez, Sekou Sundiata, Ntozake Shange; experimental musicians David Murray, Mal Waldron, Butch Morris, Craig Harris, Jeanne Lee, Leroy Jenkins, Odetta, Steve Earle, Jim Carroll as well as experimental theater artists Laurie Carlos, Robbie McCauley, Ruth Maleczech, Lee Breuer, Reza Abdoh and others.
He 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 actor Isaiah Washington. The play received eleven AUDELCO nominations. His most notable play is the OBIE Award-winning Talk, first produced at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in 2002. Directed by Marion McClinton and starring actor Anthony Mackie, 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.
--Carl Hancock Rux
Rux has been published as a contributing writer in numerous journals, catalogs, anthologies, and magazines including Interview magazine, Essence magazine, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, aRude Magazine, Nka Journal of Contemporary African Art (founded by fellow art critics Okwui Enwezor, Chika Okeke-Agulu and Salah Hassan) and American Theater Magazine.
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 Ruhr Triennale 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; 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. Combining both his dramatic training and dance movement into his performance, Rux's performance was described by the American press as having "phenomenal charisma and supreme physical expressiveness...(achieving) a near-iconic power, equally evoking El Greco's saints in extremis and images of civil rights protesters besieged by fire hoses." Rux has also appeared in several plays and performance works for theater, as well as in his own work.
|1996||Naked Acts||(Restaurant Patron)|
|1997||Shattering the Silences: The Case for Minority Faculty||(Himself)||Winner - CINE Golden Eagle Award||Finalist - The New York Festivals|
|1999||Carl Hancock Rux: Coming of Age (Voices of America TV Documentary)||(Himself)||Winner (CINE Golden Eagle Award(TM) |
|2004||Originals: The Story Of Gil Scott-Heron (BBC documentary)||(Himself)|
|2007||The Grand Inquisitor||The One|
|2007||Absolute Wilson||Saint Anthony||Winner- Art Basel ART FILM OF THE YEAR award.|
|2007||Bratz||Mr. Whitman/DJ Wax||Nominated-Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Picture||Nominated- Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Actress (Logan Browning, Janel Parrish, Nathalia Ramos, Skyler Shaye)||Nominated- Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Supporting Actor (Jon Voight)||Nominated- Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Screen Couple||Nominated- Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Remake or Rip-off|
|2012||Brooklyn Boheme (Documentary)||(Himself)||Official Selection- Pan African Film Festival||Official Selection - 2nd Annual DocNYC Film Festival||Opening Night Film- 15th Annual Urban World Film Festival||Official Selection- BAM Cinema Tek|
|2017||Tell Them We Are Rising (Documentary)||(Himself)|
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 as well as NPR and co-wrote and performed in the national touring production of NPR Presents Water±, directed by Kenny Leon.
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, University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Eugene Lang New School for Drama, among others.
Rux's great uncle, Rev. Marcellus Carlyle Rux (January 8, 1882 - January 5, 1948) was a graduate of Virginia Union University, and principal of The Keysville Mission Industrial School (later changed to The Bluestone Harmony Academic and Industrial School), a private school founded in 1898 by several African-American Baptist churches in Keysville Virginia at a time when education for African-Americans was scarce to non-existent. For about 50 years the school had the largest enrollment of any black boarding school in the east and sent a large number of graduates on to college. For the first five years, Marcellus Carlyle Rux was a teacher in the institution. Such was the record he made that he was promoted to the principalship in 1917. Under his administration, the school reached its highest enrollment and had its greatest period of prosperity. The post-Civil war school was one of the first of its kind in the nation and was permanently closed in 1950. The school's still existent structure once featured a girl's and boy's dormitory and President's dwelling and is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Marcellus Carlyle Rux is listed in History of the American Negro and his Institutions.
Rux's home, a Victorian Brownstone in the Fort Greene Brooklyn section of New York City, has been photographed by Stefani Georgani and frequently featured in home decor magazines and coffee table books internationally, including Elle Decor UK.
Rux joined New Yorkers Against Fracking, organized by singer Natalie Merchant, calling for a fracking ban on natural gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing. A concert featuring Rux, Merchant, actors Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo and musicians Joan Osborne, Tracy Bonham, Toshi Reagon, Citizen Cope, Meshell Ndegeocello and numerous others was held in Albany, N.Y., and resulted in public protests.
Rux 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 and homeowner in 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 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.
This section does not cite any sources. (June 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Rux was featured in Interview Magazine's "One To Watch" and New York Times Magazine's "Thirty Under Thirty". His essay Eminem: The New White Negro was selected for Da Capo's Best Music Writing 2004. Rux's radio documentary "Walt Whitman: Songs of Myself" was awarded the New York Press Club Journalism award for Entertainment News.