This March, we’re bringing an incredible artist named Toshi Reagon to Boston. Reagon, who Vibe Magazine called “one helluva rock’n’roller-coaster ride,” will collaborate with her mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon, the iconic singer, scholar and activist, to create a show titled Parable of the Sower—a mesmerizing theatrical work of rare power and beauty that reveals deep insights on gender, race and the future of human civilization. Parable of the Sower is an adaptation of Ocatvia E. Butler’s novel of the same name, part of a two part series she wrote and published in the nineties.
What’s especially relevant about all of this at this specific moment in the United States is that inside of Butler’s Parable series, she predicted the political catchphrase “Make America Great Again.” A Twitter uses named @oligopistos made the find this summer.
Covering this coincidental find, The Huffington Post noted, “It’s not surprising that Butler, of all dystopian writers, predicted Trump’s campaign slogan to a T. She has a penchant for accurately determining the future — including her own, writing once on the back of a notebook that her books ‘[will be read by millions of people. So be it! See to it!'”
In light of this, with seven days between today until one of the tensest elections in U.S. History, it’s comforting to know just how important artists are to the future of any culture to which they belong. Whether they’re trying to imagine a world where things get better, or offering cautionary tales about how they could become worse, artists do have the power to shape the future with their imaginations. Which futures laid out before us we head towards is a matter of collective choice and action.
Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower runs March 23 – 26 at the Emerson/Paramount Center