Sandra Bland’s Only Infraction: She Dared to Return the Gaze. Now, She’s Dead!

Sandra Bland’s refusal to be subservient in the face of her impending arrest was behavior too defiant for the Texas Trooper who arrested her. Truth be told, had Sandra Bland been white her refusal to put her cigarette out while smoking in the privacy of her own car in a public space would have been a non-issue, quarrelsome at best, but not criminal in act or intent. Instead, Ms. Bland’s confident response arguing that there was no lawful basis for her to extinguish her cigarette as she was not under arrest proved more an affront to the officer. The result, an “adrenaline testosterone” cocktail rush that caused a trained State Trooper to lose it.

Clearly the officer could not handle her returned feminine gaze, a black female challenging the one demographic entitled to own and execute the male gaze of machismo patriarchy. Sandra had pushed a “good ole boy’s” wrong button, she had over-stepped that invisible but hallowed line of “white male privilege,” the cherished perceived authority and privilege that was not to be challenged irrespective of any degree of civility heard in her initial objection. The viral video of Bland’s arrest shows that 30-year-old Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia lost it; for totally ambiguous and seemingly irrational reasons. Bland Image excel sandra-bland and arrest image

Tragically, Sandra Bland, at age 28, is now dead, her death classified a suicide. Certainly there is no cause and effect suggested or inferred. Ensuing investigations will take weeks if not months. What is immediately apparent, however, is that instead of accepting Ms. Bland’s explanation of why the officer might perceive her to appear irritated, he himself then became annoyed as though she had no right to feel such an emotion. Certainly one would think that such agitation or annoyance is a fairly common reaction, given the millions of summonses regularly issued (lawfully or unjustified).

Apparently Ms. Bland being issued a questionable warning ticket for a minor traffic infraction carried no such privilege to harbor feelings of being either irate or irritated. The presumably highly trained Texas State Trooper overreacted to an ordinary citizen’s very common and human response to a hostile, intimidating, and brutal manner that only escalated an avoidably tense situation. Houston we have a problem! It’s up to us as a nation to fix it!   D.Day 2015

New Jazz Play THE COOL, Featuring the Music and Life of Legendary Trumpeter Chet Baker, to Open in East Coast Premier

PRESS CONTACT                                                                                             FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 7/8/2015
Philip Watt, Producer
/ (646) 322-6901
New Jazz Play THE COOL, Featuring the Music and Life of Legendary Trumpeter Chet Baker, to Open in East Coast Premier

Original Play Premiers at The Back Room at Jimmy’s No. 43 for One Weekend Run

NEW YORK (July 8, 2015) – Philip Watt returns to New York City in the role as Chet Baker in a one act play, The Cool, written by San Francisco playwright and journalist Barry Eitel. The play opens its New York City premier in The Back Room at Jimmy’s No 43 on Manhattans’ East side, and runs from July 10-12.

As an actor, Watt’s credits are extensive; his repertoire covers stage and screen. Last week, the Warner Brother’s documentary Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World, opened at New York’s Angelica theater and numerous movie theaters nationally. Watt, a classically trained actor with a BFA from Cincinnati Conservatory of Music was cast as Batkid’s arch rival, The Riddler, in a civic effort that galvanized the entire City of San Francisco, by helping a 5-year-old leukemia patient to live out his dream as superhero Batkid, who, with the aid of Batman, saved the City by the Bay in one of the biggest human-interest stories of 2013, seen by an estimated one billion people, worldwide.

As a 19-year-old aspiring actor, Philip made his screen debut in one of Michael Jackson’s early ground-breaking videos, the 1996 Stranger in Moscow. He spent five years in Los Angeles, appearing on stage with Theodore Bikel, Patrick Cassidy, Don Swayze, Jenny Lewis, and onscreen with Katie Holmes (Eve 6), Brendan Fraser (Monkeybone), among others.

Watt adapted the works of Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, in a solo play that toured from New Jersey through Kansas, to Las Vegas, and finally to San Francisco, approved by Thomas’s agent, David Higham Assoc. He is currently adapting the work of Stephen Crane, and his one-act play, Stephen Crane, 25, appeared along with the premiere of The Cool last month in San Francisco.

Watt began playing trumpet at age 10 and can be heard on the sound track of Don’s Plum and two albums with Rilo Kiley and The Elected, and has recorded trumpet with Elliott Smith, Mike Bloom, Blake Sennett, and others.

Philip CU trumpt color exce_Cool The Cool Philip Jazz Play PW trump_piano excelTHE COOL:

Set in a New York City rehearsal studio in 1959, The Cool occurs during a tense practice session for Baker and his band while Baker attempts to find a nightclub to host a comeback show, following Baker’s served time at Riker’s Island for drug charges stemming from his struggle with heroin addiction. During the session, the musicians listen to Miles Davis’s classic Kind of Blue for the first time. They play six jazz standards and have heated debates about the future of jazz, and the influence of race, culture, and identity in American life. As they explore questions of the musicianship of saxophonist Charlie Parker and star trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, Baker’s own identity as an innovator in the world of jazz becomes increasingly clear even in the midst of his painful, personal often public struggle with heroine dependency.Cjharlie Parker _Chet Baker wxcel

Both Eitel and Watt consider the workshop production at Jimmy’s No. 43 as the next step on the road to developing the piece into a full-length jazz musical. With funding from a Titan grant from Theater Bay Area for Watt, he and Eitel co-produced a staged reading of The Cool at San Francisco’s PianoFight one month ago.

Other works from BARRY EITEL: Headwriter for Boxcar Theatre’s The Speakeasy, about a Prohibition-era speakeasy.. His 10-minute play “Minutiae” has been produced in Chicago, Oakland, and published by Smith & Kraus in its Best 10 Minute Plays of 2013 compilation. His short plays have been produced in a handful of cities.


[July 10 @8, 11th @8 and July 12th @ 2]

The Back Room at Jimmy’s No. 43
43 E 7th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 982-3006

For press invite or more information, please contact Philip Watt at