Parable of the Sower program note by co-artistic director, P. Carl.
Collaboration is what makes theatre such a unique artform; you can never make it in isolation and often we make it in dialogue with other artists who have transformed our own creative lives. Over the course of ArtsEmerson’s seven seasons, we have seen a variety of examples of collaboration between some of the most significant artists of our time. Cicely Tyson and Horton Foote; Isabella Rossellini and Jean Claude Carrier; Mikhail Baryshnikov and Annie-B Parson. Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower is the newest opportunity for audiences to witness the result of the work of two great talents in conversation together on stage.
Octavia E. Butler is the mother of the Afrofuturism movement—a mix of black history and culture with science fiction themes that is thriving in our contemporary society. She has a huge following of fans who refer to themselves as “Blerds”—black nerds. Her body of work earned her many awards including being the first science fiction author to win a MacArthur Fellowship for fiction. Butler tells stories from black perspectives in intersectional narratives that bring many underrepresented communities into the imagined future of the United States. You may remember during the election many credited her as the origin of Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” which is spoken by the character and demagogue, Senator Andrew Steele Jarret in Butler’s book Parable of the Talents. Parable of the Sower is equally prescient in its predictions of drought in California and walls that divide us. Her novels give us a chill of foresight but also great hope for human connection against impossible circumstances.
The music of Toshi Reagon is the product of centuries of musical evolution tied to the current precarious experiences of lives marked by difference, whether they be black, female or queer. Reagon’s work defies a singular genre as she creates melodies that combine multiple music traditions with the spirit of activism. She is able to build community and energize her listeners, whether surrounded by her band and regular collaborators or solo with her guitar. Her rhythms are electric and soul-soothing. Reagon’s ability to speak so clearly to the needs and realities of our present moment while remaining aware of generations before her make her the ideal adapter of Butler’s work.
In Parable of the Sower, will see the work of these two virtuosic women come together to create something new. They bring with them the momentum of the past and a vision of our future. The music will draw you in and the circumstances it expresses of a political and environmental climate in chaos will feel familiar. They do not come with answers or instructions for what lies ahead. Instead they offer a deep understanding of humanity and the belief that when people act together to create community across difference, hope for the future is ever present.
Coming to Boston MAR 23 – 26.
Get your tickets today: http://bit.ly/2eamWYy