Open Call: JJJJJerome Ellis

JUL 28 – 30, 2022
A concert imagining what Black ancestors witnessed in the landscapes of Virginia

About this commission

JJJJJerome Ellis’s BENEDICTION is a musical ceremony honoring plant kin and Black movement. During the ceremony, Ellis and vocalist Starr Busby sing the names of plants Black ancestors may have seen blooming or fruiting as they moved through the landscapes of 19th-century Virginia.


A photo of the artist JJJJJerome Ellis, who has a beard, wears a white t-shirt, and looks into the camera against a pale green background.
Photo: Bailey Carr.
JJJJJerome Ellis
JJJJJerome Ellis
JJJJJerome Ellis is an animal, stutterer, and artist. He was raised by Jamaican and Grenadian immigrants in Tidewater, Virginia, where he prays, gardens, and resides among the egrets and asters. He dreams of building a sonic bath house!
S T A R R Busby

S T A R R Busby (who receives all pronouns said with respect) is a Black experimental artist who sings, acts, composes, educates, and is committed to the liberation of all people. Raised in the southern Black church and a graduate of Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) and Northwestern University, S T A R R’s creative expression carries varied influences from South African hymns to ‘90s alt-rock to funk to Sprechgesang. S T A R R has supported and collaborated with artists such as The Gorillaz, Esperanza Spalding, X Ambassadors, Kimbra, Alice Smith, and Quelle Chris.

S T A R R has also performed extensively in the New York theater scene where they were awarded a 2020 Special Drama Desk Ensemble Award for their work in Octet at Signature Theatre. They were an Ars Nova 2020 – 21 Vision Resident, which culminated with the release of her latest EP and accompanying film 9 C u p s i n t h e M o o N. According to EEarl Douglas, “[H]er otherworldly voice beautifully blurring the lines of R&B, avant-garde and the experimental that soothes and stuns” (Interrobang). Visit S T A R R’s website.

Shed Production Team

Itohan Edoloyi, Lighting Design Coordinator
DJ Potts, Audio Design Coordinator
You-Shin Chen, Scenic Design Coordinator
Josh Galitzer, Head Carpenter
Maytté Martinez and Stuart Burgess, Head Electricians
Seth Haling, Head Audio
Micah Zucker, Head Video
Caren Celine Morris, Stage Coordinator

ASL Interpretation: Body Language Productions

Brandon Kazen-Maddox


Brandon Kazen-Maddox is a grandchild of Deaf adults (GODA) and third-generation native signer of American Sign Language (ASL) who identifies as a nonbinary, Black Indigenous person of color and a member of the LGBTQAI+ community. Kazen-Maddox holds an MFA in dance and new Technology from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and currently works as a professional artist, choreographer, director, editor, and nationally certified ASL interpreter both in New York City and remotely.

In the summer of 2020, Kazen-Maddox became a co-founder of Up Until Now Collective, a newly established nonprofit organization focused on radical empathy and inclusion. Within their commitment to creating work for and with the Deaf community, Kazen-Maddox also highlights and empowers BIPOC and LGBTQAI+ artists, building multicultural bridges of collaboration and community for artists of all backgrounds and abilities.

Body Language Productions, their professional ASL performance interpreting company, has served as the lead liaison for providing ASL services at The Shed, Little Island, Lincoln Center, and the Park Avenue Armory, where they are bringing Deaf directors of ASL into the inner workings of arts organizations themselves and integrating both the Deaf perspective and Deaf performers onstage, on camera, and behind the scenes.

For more information, follow their instagram and Twitter accounts @bkazenmaddox, visit their websites,,,, or email them at or

Shelly Guy

Director of Community Engagement, Events Coordinator, and Director of Artistic Sign Language

Shelly Guy is originally from Haifa, Israel, and is fluent in ISL, Hebrew, ASL, and English. She has a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in Deaf education from the University of Northern Colorado. Guy has taught at Sign Language Center for 10 years in NYC and at Excellence School. Aside from her work as an ASL teacher, Guy works as an actor and ASl consultant/producer for numerous theatrical companies and productions. She has served on the staff of New York Deaf Theater and has worked in collaboration with the New York Deaf Theater and The Public Theater/Shakespeare in the Park. Guy has worked with Body Language Productions as a director of community engagement, events coordinator, and Deaf director of artistic Sign Language. BLP emphasizes working with all aspects of the arts and giving Deaf people opportunities to own the stage. Her goal and passion is to spread awareness within the hearing community of ASL and Deaf culture.

Jamie Rose Hays

Director of Programming, Events Coordinator, Administrator, and ASL Performance Interpreter

Jamie Rose Hays started her journey with the Deaf and hard of hearing community over a decade ago through her volunteer work with New York Deaf Theatre (NYDT). She later became a pro-bono staff member with NYDT and worked alongside Shelly Guy and Seth Gore developing work with Playwrights Horizons, Broken Box Mime, and The Public. In 2018 she led a collaboration with The Public Theater’s Public Works production of Twelfth Night directed by Oskar Eustis. Hays met Brandon Kazen-Maddox at a wedding of a Deaf couple in NYC, and insisted they become a lead interpreter for Twelfth Night. Hays has been working as an ASL/English interpreter for eight years in the medical, business, education, and arts field. She joined the Body Language Production team at Little Island NYC in 2021 and appreciates the ongoing opportunity to create accessible moments for the Deaf and hard of hearing community. She is grateful to continue these close knit relationships with Kazen-Maddox, Guy, and Gore, and this common drive to showcase more Deaf artists.

Seth Gore

Technical Director and Director of Artistic Sign Language

Seth Gore is a Deaf bilingual creative house. Specializing in interplay between English and ASL languages, arts, teaching, and technology, Gore allows his deafness to permeate and influence his work. His work is centered around signed language and effective and authentic human communications. As director of ASL and ASL coach for several Hollywood and Broadway productions, including Paramount’s A Quiet Place 2, Freestyle Love Supreme, and To Kill a Mockingbird in MSG, Gore ensures the signed message gets through to the audience. He lives in New York City and currently is developing signed script collaboration solutions (Visual Script) and English grammar learning (Grammar Shapes) and teaching workshops (Unlearning Words) that aim to unlock people’s signed thought and make their communications more whole. Gore has worked with Body Language Productions as the technical director since 2022 and provides his expertise in website design, social media, and coding knowledge to the infrastructure of Body Language Productions.



Each performance includes accessible seating. Please let our ushers know if you are staying in a wheelchair for a performance or using a theater seat.

Assistive Listening

Assistive listening is available at The Shed via the free Listen Everywhere app on your personal device. To find directions on how to download the app, visit the Accessibility page.

Devices are available for you to borrow at the ticketing desk if you do not want to use your own smartphone.

The Shed offers free Wi-Fi to facilitate your use of Listen Everywhere. Connect to the network TheShedFreeWiFi.

ASL Interpretation and Audio Description

ASL interpretation will be available on Friday, July 29.

For ASL interpretation, there will be a reserved section of seats if you would like to sit in proximity to an interpreter.

Audio description is delivered via the free Listen Everywhere app. Some performances will include prerecorded audio description, also available via the Listen Everywhere app.

Purchasing Tickets

The Shed’s online ticketing system includes the option to submit accommodation requests beyond the access points detailed here.

Contact Us

For questions or other requests, visit the Accessibility page, email, or call (646) 455-3494.


This event takes place in Level 4 Overlook.

What to Expect

Arriving at The Shed


Thank you for planning a visit to The Shed. We’re looking forward to welcoming you for Open Call. You are welcome to enter the building through one of three different entrances. These are located off of The Shed’s Plaza, at 545 West 30th Street, or on the Hudson Yards Public Square.

Arriving by Public Transportation

The closest accessible subway station is the 34 St–Hudson Yards/7 train station. It’s the final stop on the 7 subway line in Manhattan arriving from the east side and Queens.

The bus lines with stops closest to The Shed include the M11 along 10th Avenue, the M12 along 11th Avenue, and the M34 SBS, which provides select bus service to Hudson Yards along 34th Street.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority operates the Access-A-Ride program as a service for people with disabilities. Please visit the MTA’s Access-A-Ride webpage for more information.

Arriving by Car

This entrance provides an accessible passenger loading zone allowing for automobile pick-up and drop-off access to the building.

There are two parking garages in close proximity to The Shed on West 30th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. One is on the north side of the block, beneath Hudson Yards. An additional garage is located across the street from The Shed at 552 West 30th Street.


Tickets to Open Call will be checked by a staff member at the entrance to the theater or performance space, once you are inside. You should have received your tickets in an email. You can find them by searching for the address

Masks and Vaccination

Currently, visitors must wear a properly fitting mask covering their nose and mouth at all times while in The Shed, except when dining or drinking at Cedric’s, a bar in the lobby. Please noteL proof of vaccination is required for Yo-Yo Lin’s performances (July 8 – 9) and Kinetic Light’s performances (August 25 – 27).

Additional Information

For additional information about accessibility at The Shed, visit our Accessibility page. For any additional access needs or requests, please email or call (646) 455-3494.

Entering Through The Plaza

Outside The Shed

The Plaza is adjacent to the High Line, on the same level as the Hudson Yards Public Square and the 34 St–Hudson Yards/7 train subway station, which is serviced by an elevator.

On Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 pm to sunset, The Shed’s Plaza will be lively, with visitors enjoying DJs, dance, and music performances outside. There will be wooden structures covered in soft, recycled rubber that you can sit or lounge on to rest or enjoy the evening.

Entering the Building

The Plaza entrance at the southwest corner of the building is staffed by a friendly member of our Visitor Experience team who will greet you. They’ll be wearing a black t-shirt and ID badge on a purple lanyard. At this entrance, there are two glass doors that open outward. The floor inside the building is level with The Plaza as you enter.

Escalators and Elevators

Once inside, the building feels airy with high ceilings and large windows along the escalator bank a short distance down the hall from the entrance. Immediately on your left after entering will be an elevator if you would prefer to ride it to Level 4 for The Overlook or to Level 6 for The Griffin Theater. The escalators and elevators both open onto the hallway on each level where you will find the entrances to the performance spaces.


There are restrooms on the floor below in the lobby and on the floors above. The closest accessible and all gender restrooms are on Level 4, up one level.

Entering Through the Hudson Yards Public Square Entrance

Outside The Shed

This entrance is located along Hudson Yards Boulevard. The entrance is marked with The Shed’s name above it in white letters.

Entering the Building

This entrance is equipped with a push button to open the door, with a friendly staff member to greet you as you enter the building. They’ll be wearing a black t-shirt and ID badge on a purple lanyard.


From the entrance doorway, continue straight ahead, past the video screens and staircase , and then turn left. Down a short hallway you will find three restrooms: one with stalls, one with stalls and urinals, and a private, all gender restroom.


The staircase leads down into the main 30th Street Lobby. Behind the staircase to the right is an elevator that you can use to reach the lobby or to go up to Level 2 (Gallery), 4 (The Overlook), or 6 (The Griffin Theater).

Open Call performances take place in either the Level 4 Overlook or The Griffin Theater on Level 6.

Entering Through The 30th Street Lobby


The 30th Street Lobby entrance, between 10th and 11th Avenues, is on the street level beneath the Plaza level (beneath the High Line on West 30th Street). The 30th Street Lobby entrance is equipped with a push button to open the door, with a friendly staff member to greet you as you enter the building. They’ll be wearing a black t-shirt and ID badge on a purple lanyard.

The Bar

Before a performance, the Lobby may be lively. Cedric’s, a bar, is located in the lobby. Friends and visitors may be sharing drinks and snacks while music plays on overhead speakers. When less crowded, Cedric’s offers a calm, cool spot to sit and relax before or after a performance.

Escalators and Elevators

At the back of the lobby, you will find the escalator and elevators to the upper floors. The escalator is directly across from the main lobby doors, behind a transparent glass wall. Two elevators are located at either back corner of the Lobby, on the same wall as the escalator. One to the left and one to the right. The escalators and elevators both take you up to the main hallway on each level where you will find the entrances to the performance spaces.

Open Call performances take place in either the Level 4 Overlook or The Griffin Theater on Level 6.


Accessible restrooms are located in the back corner of the lobby, behind the escalators and adjacent to the bar. These restrooms include one with stalls and one with stalls and urinals. The nearest private, all gender restroom is located on Level 4.

Entering The Overlook

Once you’re on Level 4, a staff member will be standing outside the performance space to greet you and check tickets. If you have any questions, there will be a solution station with another staff member to help you.

Once inside The Overlook performance space, seating for performances is general admission, and will vary per production. If you would like help in finding a seat, a staff member at the entrance can guide you. If ASL interpretation is available the day of your performance, a staff member will be available to direct you to a reserved section of seats close to the interpreter.

The nearest restrooms are located on this floor, to your right as you exit The Overlook. Follow the hallway away from the escalators on the other side of the floor. You will find one restroom with stalls and one with stalls and urinals, as well as a private, all gender restroom.

This Production


As you move into The Overlook, welcoming music plays as you find a seat. The stage is level with the floor, and seats are arranged in a semicircle around it. You will have the choice of cushions, benches, or chairs. If you’d like to remain in a wheelchair, a staff member at the entrance can direct you to the best position in the theater.

ASL Interpretation

Staff members can also direct you to a position in proximity to an ASL interpreter on Friday, July 29.

During the Performance

The stage includes a piano, other instruments, and microphones for the two performers. During the musical performance, rich piano intertwines with the strong vocals of the two performers. The music is all acoustic. The performers alternate their singing, while also singing together at moments.

This is a relaxed performance. There is no need to remain silent, and you are free to participate or make sound in the ways you need to. The atmosphere is calm and meditative while also feeling energized and restorative. The performance lasts up to two hours.

For any additional access needs or requests, please email or call (646) 455-3494.

Thank you to our partners

The Lead Sponsor of Open Call is
Support for Open Call is generously provided by

Additional support for Open Call is provided by Warner Bros. Discovery 150, The Wescustogo Foundation, and Jody and John Arnhold | Arnhold Foundation.

The creation of new work at The Shed is generously supported by the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Commissioning Fund and the Shed Commissioners. Major support for live productions at The Shed is provided by the Charina Endowment Fund, with additional support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.