Jackson R. Berkley and Clarissa Marie Ligon are the creators and producers of an up-and-coming variety show called, “The Show!” After a successful debut performance at Bushwick’s Fine Time in December and a follow-up show in February, that was love and eroticism themed, the duo will return this coming April for their third installment under the theme of renewal and transformation.
The two have very different origin stories but ultimately it has brought them to the same place. Ligon is a born and bred Brooklynite currently residing in Bushwick, and Berkley is originally from Northern Virginia having lived in Portland, Oregon for three years after college before starting the next chapter of his life in New York City, “I was ready to start building a life in New York—not ‘settling down,’ but actually committing to being part of a community.”
The duo’s relationship and approach to art are the same: they both value collaboration and they respect one another as artists and humans. They are interested in learning about the world through listening and connection. Having first connected on the Tinder app, the two decided to grab drinks one night after exchanging texts messages back and forth for a few days.
“We ordered a few drinks and tray of fried pickles at Koda in Bushwick and stayed out way too late discussing his background, my background, and why he loved scenes of movies and I loved the overall arch! The rest is history!” said Ligon.
“Before we met up she made it clear that it was not going to be a hook-up, which I appreciated because I had the same idea in mind, and we could just talk,” added Berkley.
The conversation of building and producing a show together began almost immediately for the pair. Both being equally immersed in their own creative endeavors really sparked the connection and interest in collaborating. Ligon is currently a freelance Stage Manager Off-Broadway with a background in music and theatre. She believes that as a theatre maker it is her responsibility to always seek out opportunities to create art, “The most attractive thing about Jackson was his desire to create and build new interesting projects.”
On the flipside, Berkley is a stand-up comedian and writer and hit the pavement after arriving in New York. He performed stand-up any chance he could get and participated in various bringer shows (pay for play performance opportunities) that ultimately offered nothing to him than three minutes of stage time.
“As I got to know Clarissa, I realized I had not met too many other people who were as proud and confident in their talents and sensibilities, while still being very open about their anxieties, fears, and vulnerabilities in that space,” he said. “I fell in love with that duality and knowing it has made me more confident in being a creative ‘Jack-of-all-trades’ with a lot of energy who jumps from thing to thing pretty often.”
“The Show!” began after many brainstorming sessions about what exactly they wanted to create. They both agreed that a variety show would be best. The format allowed artists to come with their own original act, allowing audiences to be surprised with the diversity of each show.
“Once things started to come together, I fell in love with the process because it combined so many things that I love: performance, graphic design, lighting, writing, etc,” said Berkley.
“We look for heart when booking acts! This is definitely a show built on passion, love, and fun and we want all our acts to reflect that model because honestly, those things make the world go round,” Ligon added.
Their desire to make every performer feel special and acknowledged bleeds right into their future mission, which involves developing the event into a full-scale immersive celebration, with design elements and performances that stretch through space, giving audiences the ability to be included.
The duo also ends each show with a duet, which serves as a “thank you and goodnight” to the audience and performers, “We end each show with an act because who wouldn’t want to see their favorite hosts sign off in a fun way?”
The future of “The Show!” looks bright so make sure to catch it, April 7 at 9 p.m at Bushwick’s Fine and Time on Central Ave. The lineup will include musicians, rappers, poets, and dancers. Keep up with their story here.
All photos courtesy of The Show!