The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi marks Earth Day with a virtual revisit to Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower – The Concert Version

To mark Earth Day The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) will stream Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower – The Concert Version by the extraordinary American singer, songwriter, and guitarist Toshi Reagon and her mother, the pioneering civil rights artistic leader Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon.

The mesmerizing theatrical work-in-progress from 2015 (which later had its World Premiere at The Arts Center, followed by the US Premiere at Carolina Performing Arts, both in November 2017), adapted from Octavia E. Butler’s post-apocalyptic novel Parable of the Sower, will be streamed on Wednesday, April 22 at 8pm (GMT+4) through The Arts Center’s Facebook page.

Toshi Reagon and Executive Artistic Director of The Arts Center at NYUAD Bill Bragin will also join the audience online for a live Q&A immediately following the streamed performance, moderated by Clinical Associate Professor at the Liberal Studies Program in NYU New York and affiliated faculty member at NYUAD Deborah L. Williams.

Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, was the very first show performed at The Arts Center on September 2, 2015. It returns as part of Reconnect. – a series of outstanding performances from The Arts Center’s archive, streamed to audiences all over the world. Reconnect. was launched following the COVID-19 outbreak and aims to bring communities together and inspire audiences through the arts, even in the midst of social distancing.

Blending science fiction with African-American spiritualism, the performance reveals deep insights on gender and race. Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, is a mesmerizing reflection on the future of human civilization. The original novel, written in 1993, is set in our present day and delves into life in a society ravaged by the consequence of corporate greed and climate change.

Reagon’s interpretation, written in collaboration with her mother, the iconic founder of vocal group Sweet Honey in the Rock Bernice Johnson Reagon, is a work of power and beauty that mixes profound philosophy with wild entertainment.

Bragin said: “I cannot think of a more relevant or resonant experience to bring to our audiences on Earth Day. The deeply prophetic narrative is a cautionary tale about the environment, exploring communities born of adversity, the central role of empathy in human relationships, and the building of new societies — Earthseed — during a time of great change. This concert version of the work-in-progress, which The Arts Center later co-commissioned and premiered, was foundational to the creation of our own artistic birth and an inspiration to the NYUAD community back in 2015.”

He continued, “We’re especially honored to have built global partnerships to share the experience in real time for Earth Day with other arts institutions which played significant roles in Parable’s life. Carolina Performing Arts at UNC Chapel Hill is where the full opera had its US premiere immediately after our world premiere in 2017. The artistic director of the Singapore International Festival of the Arts (SIFA) came to our premiere and brought it to their festival in 2018. UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance (CAP) presented Parable in March of this year, where it became the last in-person performance in March, just before they closed due to COVID-19. This planetary collaboration is testament to the piece’s power and resonance.”

Toshi Reagon is a talented and versatile singer, composer, musician, curator and producer with a profound ear for sonic Americana, from folk to funk, and blues to rock. She is also a librettist, composer, and music director. Reagon has collaborated with artists including Lizz Wright, Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Costello, Jason Moran, Climbing PoeTree and Nona Hendryx. As a composer for dance and theater works, she has worked with Michelle Dorrance Katori Hall, Urban Bush Women and The Jane Comfort Dance Co.

The Arts Center at NYUAD is a performing arts center that presents distinguished professional artists from around the world alongside student, faculty, and community productions. For more information, please visit the website. Follow @NYUADArtsCenter on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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