Miles Davis and life upon the wicked stage

miles-art If you happen to find your self in Iowa City this weekend then by all means try to check out Seven Days: a Fantasia on the Life of Miles Davis, a play written by Greg Machlin and running tonight and Saturday at 8 pm in the UI Theatre Building.

The play follows a seven-day stint in 1954 during which Miles Davis returns to Illinois to try to kick his heroin addiction. The narrative bounces between events leading up to his addiction and after he quits. While the events are as accurate as possible, this play “is an imaginative examination of a musical genius,” according to the notes.

UI graduate student Ethan Henry will portray the jazz legend. “I’ve always been fascinated by Miles Davis since I was in my teens,” said Henry. “I thought that I could [make this] my thesis role, [because] I have always wanted to play Miles Davis.”

Heroin addiction is a constant theme throughout the story with Davis unintentionally turning on John Coltrane, (played by Jordan Keith Thomas), and Davis recognizing that his band-mate Bill Evans (played by UI student Derrick VanDerMillen) has become a junkie and is forced to kick the pianist out of the band.

“[The play] is about his getting control of [his life],” Joe Luis Cedillo, the play’s director, said. “It’s about his being able to create and go back to music.”

The life and times of Miles Davis is fertile ground for both stage and screen, so it’s great to see an important chapter of his life presented in a theatre setting. Should be a lot of fun and quite moving.


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