JIG SHOW, A new film by TRIBES, helps preserve an American entertainment legacy
TRIBES Entertainment News- Oct. 10, 2014 – DURHAM, N.C. — The last remaining of the great entertainers from one of America’s most successful traveling shows are finally telling their stories in a new documentary by TRIBES Entertainment Films titled, JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana.
A compelling historical document produced and directed by Leslie Cunningham, the film delves into the legend and truth behind top road show producer Leon Claxton’s epic black and Cuban stage revue, Harlem in Havana– a so-called ‘colored jig show’ that helped launch the careers of entertainment heavyweights Chuck Berry, Rufus Thomas, Redd Foxx, Fontella Bass and Merceditas Valdes. One of the leading attractions on the world’s largest carnival midway in the 1930‘s, 40s, 50s and 60s, Harlem in Havana had profound impact on American entertainment and popular culture in ways that still exist today.
Part of a larger work known as the Harlem in Havana Project, Leslie Cunningham (creator of TRIBES Magazine and Leon Claxton’s granddaughter) has been working to archive this explosive chapter in American entertainment through a diversity of mediums including the film, a photography book and traveling photography exhibit and harleminhavana.com, the project’s official website.
“The carnival stage is often overlooked when recalling the history of black and latin entertainers and their impact on American popular culture,” says Leslie Cunningham. “This is a never-before-told story of a little-known legacy that will enrich the whole of our cultural knowledge…We are engaged in the necessary work of cultural preservation. If we don’t talk to these entertainers now and mediate the telling of this story, the history will die with their memories and their generation.”
Slated for release in late 2015, JIG SHOW is currently in the early stages of production as Cunningham works to collect stories from the last of the living performers to grace her grandfather’s stage. Interviews are being conducted with subjects across the American South and West focusing on Tampa, Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis followed shortly by Western Canada as the search for production funding sources is underway. You can help TRIBES preserve American entertainment history- Donate to the documentary film project at jigshow.com or harleminhavana.com.
TRIBES Entertainment Films