Edgar Arceneaux presents a screening and discussion of Until, Until, Until…, a short feature film which originated as a theatrical play. In this work, Arceneaux examines Broadway legend Ben Vereen’s controversial blackface performance at Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inaugural celebration. Vereen’s musical number, an homage to trailblazing black vaudeville performer Bert Williams, delivered a provocative critique to the Republican audience. Shown on television a day later in a truncated version that omitted the last five minutes and subverted his critical intentions, the broadcast triggered a heated backlash and derailed Vereen’s career for decades. Arceneaux’s film restages the entire performance and restores Vereen’s original ending, reflecting on the power of media (mis)representation as well as on what can happen when an artist is completely misunderstood.
This program is co-presented by the Ruth Carl J. Shapiro Film Program at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston at Tufts University in conjunction with the List Center’s exhibition Edgar Arceneaux: Written in Smoke and Fire.
The screening takes place at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Remis Auditorium.
Free tickets will be available at any MFA ticket desk starting at 10 am on the day of the screening. Seating is limited; admission is not guaranteed.