Award-winning stage director Charlotte Brathwaite joins forces with eclectic composer/pianist Courtney Bryan and celebrated installation artist Abigail DeVille in a sonically stimulating, visually spectacular experience.
Part theatrical event, part visual art installation, part ritual ceremony, Prophetika: An Oratorio proposes a mythical cosmology of colliding reflections on freedom and a view of the current state of our world. Inspired by Harriet Tubman’s journey from enslavement to liberation; the cosmic philosophies and improvisational style of Sun Ra; Alice Coltrane’s consciousness rising devotional music and the mysterious invading black monoliths in Stanley Kubrick’s classic sci-fi film 2001: Space Odyssey. It unfolds as a countdown to tomorrow, a road map to human destiny, a quest for the infinite from within.
Follow on social with: #ProphetikaLive
Featuring – Jadele McPherson, Brandee Younger, Courtney Bryan, Justin Hicks
Concept/Direction – Charlotte Brathwaite
Composer/Pianist – Courtney Bryan
Installation/Costume – Abigail DeVille
Actor/Singer – Jadele McPherson
Harpist – Brandee Younger
Sound Design – Justin Hicks
Lighting Design – Kent Barrett
Video Art – Cauleen Smith
Production Assistant – Hao Bai
Graphic Design – Nontsikelelo Mutiti
Image: Abigail DeVille, Gaze in the Mirror, 2015, chicken wire, light bulbs, zip ties, gaft tape
Photo credit: Sofia Berinstein
Press Contact – Fatima Kafele & Torya Beard: email@example.com
ABOUT THE TEAM
A native of Toronto, Canada, Charlotte Brathwaite (concept/direction) joined the internationally renowned La MaMa E.T.C’s Great Jones Repertory as an actor at the age of 16 and performed in New York and in over 12 countries with the company. An independent director, her works presented in the Americas, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia, range in subject matter from the historical past to the distant future illuminating issues of race, sex, power and the complexities of the human condition without adhering to limitation of genre. A director of classical and unconventional texts, operas, dance, multi-media, site-specific, installations and concerts her work has been commissioned and presented by Central Park SummerStage, DC Arts Commission, 651 Arts, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, Aarshi Theater Company Kolkata, Test! Festival Zagreb, Het Veem Theater Amsterdam, Scarlett Project Trinidad, The Living Theater, Joe’s Pub, La MaMa E.T.C, JACK Brooklyn, Studio Museum Harlem and HAU Berlin among others. Recent: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL at MIT; SHARKS & DOLPHINS for The Fire This Time Festival. Upcoming: LA PALOMA PRISONER by Raquel Almazan at Signature Theater; THE GENEVA PROJECT with 651 Arts. Awards/ Honors: Princess Grace Foundation Award; Julian Milton Kaufman Prize for Directing; Rockefeller Residency (A.I.M); National Performing Network Creation Fund. Visiting Artist Williams College; Visiting Professor Amherst College. BA, Amsterdam School for the Arts, the Netherlands; MFA, Yale School of Drama. Brathwaite is currently Assistant Professor of Theater Arts at MIT. www.charlottebrathwaite.com
Courtney Bryan (composer/pianist) a native of New Orleans, La, is “a pianist and composer of panoramic interests” (New York Times). Her music ranges from solo works to large ensembles in the new music and jazz idioms, film scores, and collaborations with dancers, visual artists, writers, and actors. She performs around the New York area, and is the Director of the Institute of Sacred Music at Bethany Baptist Church of Newark, NJ. Dr. Bryan has academic degrees from Oberlin Conservatory (BM), Rutgers University (MM), and recently completed a DMA in music composition at Columbia University of New York, with advisor George Lewis. Bryan has been an instructor at Columbia University and Oberlin Conservatory, and is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University. She has two independent recordings, “Quest for Freedom” (2007) and “This Little Light of Mine” (2010). Bryan’s work has been presented in a wide range of venues, including Lincoln Center, Miller Theatre, The Stone, Roulette Intermedium, National Gallery of Art, Blue Note Jazz Club, Jazz Gallery, and Bethany and Abyssinian Baptist Churches. Upcoming commissions include an orchestra piece for the American Composers Orchestra and a collaborative piece with Urban Bush Women. www.courtneybryan.com
Abigail DeVille (visual artist/costume design) received her MFA from Yale University 2011 and her BFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2007. DeVille has exhibited a growing constellation of site-specific installations throughout the United States and Europe. Her work has most recently been exhibited at the Sculpture Center (2014); El Museo del Barrio (2014); Contemporary Art Museum Houston (2014), the Bronx Museum of the Arts (2013), The 55th Venice Biennale (2013), The Studio Museum in Harlem (2012), ICA, Philadelphia (2012) and the New Museum (2012) Stedelijk Museum, s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands (2011). Her work has been written about in New York Magazine, The New York Times, Washington Post, Artforum.com, Time Out New York, CAPITAL, Philadelphia Weekly, Interview, Black Book, Nylon, Art News and Paper Magazine. She has designed sets for theatrical productions—directed by Peter Sellers and Charlotte Brathwaite—at venues such as the Stratford Festival (2014), JACK (2014), Joe’s Pub (2014), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2015). DeVille is a 2012 Joan Mitchell Foundation grant recipient and a 2014-15 fellow at The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.
Jadele McPherson (performer) is a performance artist, singer, actress, scholar, and cultural organizer. After completing the EMERGE program at NYU’s Institute for Performance & Politics she was in the original cast of PARTY PEOPLE at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and is an ensemble member of UNIVERSES. She is the founder of Lukumi Arts Association, and experimental theater company based in Brooklyn, NY. She has performed recently at HERE Arts, La Mama Experimental Theater Club, Zinc Bar, Teatro Latea, El Fogón Center for the Arts, Hostos College, Brooklyn School of Music, Nuyorican Poets Café, 651 Arts, and 92Y. Infusing Afro-Cuban genres into interdisciplinary arts projects, as a teacher and performer she is committed to arts education, and traditional arts as a healing response to trauma and division in multicultural communities. M.A. Social Sciences, University of Chicago.
Brandee Younger (harpist) A versatile artist whose work defies genres and labels, Brandee Younger has created a niche for herself in both traditional and progressive harp circles. Classically trained, Ms. Younger builds on the musical legacies of the legendary harpists Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby while creating a contemporary voice that is distinctively her own. She has made her mark as a groundbreaking artist having worked across genres in jazz, classical and popular realms. She is noted for her with Ravi Coltrane, Jack Dejohnette, Reggie Workman, Charlie Haden, Bill Lee and Butch Morris as well as in hip hop with artists and producers including Common, John Legend, Ryan Leslie and Ski Beatz. A graduate of the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, and New York University’s Steinhardt School, Ms. Younger currently leads the Brandee Younger Jazz Harp Quartet and is the instructor of harp at the Greenwich House Music School.
Justin Hicks (sound design) Using music, text, sound, video, and food, aims to create work that reaches toward dialogue and the corroboration of instinctual values (and their variations) held by the diaspora of working people (despite disparate classifications of class and socioeconomic statuses). By incorporating several practices into his creative process, he is able to explore themes of identity, race, economics, marriage, working, and religion using several vantage points, all the while focusing on what he believes to be universal emotional aspects of existence, that few are exempt from (regardless of class, gender, race, etc.).
Cauleen Smith (video artist) is an acclaimed filmmaker and video artist whose work reflects on the everyday possibilities of the black imagination. In narrative features and experimental shorts, multi-channel film and video installations, incorporating sculptural objects and text, and in other innovative work across a variety of media and forms, Smith has pursued wide-ranging interests roaming from her roots in structuralist filmmaking to Afrofuturist narrative strategies. Her work has garnered numerous awards, grants, and residencies, and been featured at festivals and museums including Sundance, SXSW, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, MOCA Los Angeles, MCA Chicago, and the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Hao Bai (production assistant) is happy to work with Charlotte Brathwaite and Abigail DeVille again! Hao works as a director, a designer (light, sound, video, set, and other), a technician, and theatre maker. Originally from China, she attended college at Hampshire, where she studied theatre and studio art among the Five Colleges in Massachusetts. She recently completed her thesis project, WE, in December, a show she wrote, directed, and designed. Her upcoming design projects include: co-lighting design for In The Next Room, or The Vibrator Play (Northampton), and sound design for Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Amherst).
Sundays March 22nd & 29th
Directly following these 6pm performances of Prophetika: an Oratorio the collaborators invite experts in the humanities and the arts, to participate in informal conversations on core themes of this original work including: Afro-futurism, spirituality, politics, activism, science, representation and the arts. The duration of all conversations will be 50 minutes.
March 22: “Transcendence”
Discussion topics: Spirituality, Politics, and the Arts
Speakers: Kara Lynch, Dr. Matthew Morrison, Dr. Imani Perry, Imani Uzuri
Moderator: Dr. Courtney Bryan
March 29: “Dark Matter”
Discussion topics: Science, Technology, and the Arts
Speakers: Greg Tate, Didier Sylvain, Abigail DeVille
Moderator: Charlotte Brathwaite