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THE ARTSEMERSON BLOG

What did you think of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower?

Thank you for joining us for Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower! We are honored that you joined the circle to hear the musical exploration of this important and insightful story.

What brought you to this piece? Are you familiar with the work of Octavia E. Butler and/or Toshi Reagon?

What will you need to survive the future?

7 Comments

  1. It’s hard to imagine an adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Parable series that does justice to Butler but this production DOES. If Butler predicted the deep social divisions, economic inequities, and cruelty of the Trump era, Toshi Reagon and company predict the possibility of a profound anti-racist social revolution with the “common good” once again a key civic value. And climate change is right there wrapped up in questions of social justice, as it is and will be. I loved this production. Thank you creators and performers. I am a teacher and want to know how I can get some version of this to my students?!

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  2. Karen SontagMarch 24, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    This was a wonderful piece that introduced me to the power and vision of Octavia Butler’s work. The beautiful music and incredible performances softened the apocalyptic message in such a way that it could be taken in and pondered. Toshi Reagon is a genius; she deserves a Macarthur grant or some backing to develop this into a fully staged production. I believe it would be as popular Rent or even Hamilton. It evokes many great musicals including Porgy and Bess and Jesus Christ Superstar but is also very fresh and original. All of the performers were in beautiful voice and made a wonderful ensemble.

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  3. Sean PolreisMarch 26, 2017 at 11:28 am

    Ditto to the previous 2 posts. Outstanding music, story, & all-around vision. Singing was absolutely wonderful & evoked emotion throughout. I can’t wait to see the full production once it is complete & hope to buy the music asap. Thanks to Toshi & everyone else who put this excellent production together.

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  4. The 3/25 performance had powerful moments and talented, impressive performers. I haven’t read Octavia Butler, but this piece intrigues me to explore her work. I noticed, however, that several times, especially in the first half, I started to nod off, as did my wife and a couple friends who joined us. I think there were several reasons: (a) a sameness and over amplification in the drum and bass foundations for the songs that became hypnotic; (b) a sound mix that made some vocals too bright and shrill; (c) song-writing built around chanting styles that made several songs too long, with minimal chord changes; (d) static staging. As a work in progress, it has promise, but needs further development and tightening.

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  5. Linda RenziMarch 27, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Magnificent. How could I survive all this time not knowing about Toshi Reagon? Her singing the parable at the end brought tears (and that doesn’t happen often). How can I get a recording of the the performance or at least the parable? Thank you, Arts Emerson, for giving us the amazing gift of THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER!

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  6. I read the book last year, that’s what led me to see it. Very powerful performance, and incredible voices. I was also very taken with the structure, with Reagon speaking at the beginning and near the end. It was somewhere between concert and theatre performance. If she does develop it further, I’d like to see a little more about the stories of the characters she meets along the way. I don’t think it needs to be a traditional theatre performance, maybe just a step further toward a full staging. Is there or any plans for a recording of the music? I also did nod off a few times, briefly, but I don’t think it had anything to do with the performance. My husnband and I have this problem frequently, due to the high temperature in the theatre. I’ve had this in other theatres as well.

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  7. Ronda MartinezMarch 27, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    I was engaged from beginning to end. Toshi was able to bring this piece to life. I did find myself nodding off…I believe the music was hypnotic; but I was able to recover. The voices were beautiful and hope there is a sound track. If this comes back to Boston, I will return and bring a couple of friends.

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