Production is based on novels by Octavia Butler in partnership with Woolly Mammoth Theatre
Mona M. Rock
(NORTH BETHESDA, MD) – Strathmore and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company proudly present Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, a fully staged opera based on the novel of the same name, April 28 and 29 in Strathmore’s Music Center. Created by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon, this compelling work gives life to Butler’s acclaimed science fiction novel.
Parable of the Sower is a human story that illuminates deep insights on gender, race, and the future of human civilization. The show tells the story of Lauren Olamina and her community, who fight to survive in dire circumstances. The unforgettable score draws inspiration from hundreds of years of African American music.
“It’s 200 years of Black music in the show, and it’s everything,” said Toshi Reagon. “It’s a story that takes place in 2024 but its roots go way before that…we had to move through time.”
The adaptation takes place in a not-so-distant America where violence, greed, and disregard for the planet’s resources collide with the 21st century’s climate crisis, driving society to the brink of extinction.
“Being able to play a part in bringing Toshi’s and Bernice’s opera adaptation of this extraordinary work to our region is important for Strathmore,” said Monica Jeffries Hazangeles, Strathmore’s President and CEO. “Offering conversations and productions inspired by this historically significant work aligns directly with our artistic mission of offering Strathmore as a venue for discovery and a canvas for expression.”
In the months leading up to the performances, as well as the weekend of the shows, there will be lectures, conversations with the artists, and resource guides to give guests a chance to dive into the many fascinating elements of Reagon’s and Butler’s work - the “Parable Path.”
“I’m thrilled to join forces and unite our audiences to witness this visceral and mesmerizing new operatic work that beautifully reveals Butler’s stunningly prophetic insights on the future of American civilization,” said Maria Manuela Goyanes, Woolly’s Artistic Director.
Click here for a complete list of pre-show events including an exploration of Butler’s overall legacy, as well as the books’ themes and their context in Black feminism, Afrofuturism, and social change.
Parable is generously sponsored in part by Karen Lefkowitz and Al Neyman.
PARABLE PATH FELLOWSHIP
Strathmore and Woolly have launched a program as part of the Parable Path that will empower young people to use their artistry for positive change. The new Arts and Social Justice Fellowship for high schoolers launched in February, inspired by the themes of Parable and the women who created it. The first class of fellows are studying Butler’s legacy, Reagon and Johnson Reagon’s musical interpretation, and different ways that artist-activists can use their voices to create change. The fellowship is for 14–18-year-olds at any artistic skill level, and students will get financial and production support to develop their own creative projects.
The Arts and Social Justice Fellowship is made possible with generous support from the Dr. Allen A.B. Herman Fund, which was established by Dr. Herman’s widow, Strathmore Board member Deborah M. Smith, and their family and friends.
ABOUT THE CREATORS
TOSHI REAGON (Librettist, Composer, Music Director) is a versatile singer, composer, musician, curator and producer with a profound ear for sonic Americana—from folk to funk, from blues to rock. She has collaborated with many artists including Carl Hancock Rux, Ani DiFranco, Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Costello and Nona Hendryx. As a composer, she has worked with Katori Hall, Urban Bush Women and The Jane Comfort Dance Co., among others. She is currently touring Bessie Award-winning The Blues Project with tap dancer Michelle Dorrance and Dorrance Dance. She founded WORD*ROCK*& SWORD, a community festival that takes place throughout New York City every September. Together with her mother Bernice Johnson Reagon, she has created two operas with director Robert Wilson, The Temptation of St. Anthony and Zinnias, The Life of Clementine Hunter.
BERNICE JOHNSON REAGON (Librettist, Composer) is a scholar, singer/song leader and activist. For over half a century she has been a profound contributor to African American and American culture. Born in southwest Georgia, her singing style and traditional repertoire are grounded in her experiences in church, school and political activism. As a composer, she has created a narrative of her social and political activism through her songs and larger compositions. She performed as a member of the SNCC Freedom Singers, The Harambee Singers, and the internationally acclaimed Sweet Honey in the Rock. Paralleling her work in music, Reagon is one of the leading authorities in African American Cultural History. She is a recipient of the Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities, a MacArthur Fellowship and the Presidential Medal and Charles E. Frankel Prize for Contributions to the Public Understanding of Humanities.
ERIC TING is an Obie Award-winning director. Recent directing credits include Sam Hunter’s A Great Wilderness and Rising Son by Dick Lee. As Long Wharf’s Associate Artistic Director, Ting has directed the world premieres of Laura Jacqmin’s January Joiner, Aditi Brennan Kapil’s Agnes Under The Big Top and Hemingway’s The Old Man & The Sea. Other credits include Donald Margulies’s Shipwrecked! An Entertainment; Anna Deavere Smith’s Let Me Down Easy and puppet design for Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers.
See the Parable trailer - here.
ABOUT WOOLLY MAMMOTH THEATRE COMPANY
Woolly Mammoth creates badass theatre that highlights the stunning, challenging, and tremendous complexity of our world. For over 40 years, Woolly has maintained a high standard of artistic rigor while simultaneously daring to take risks, innovate, and push beyond perceived boundaries. One of the few remaining theatres in the country to maintain a company of artists, Woolly serves an essential research and development role within the American theatre. Plays premiered here have gone on to productions at hundreds of theatres all over the world and have had lasting impacts on the field. Co-led by Artistic Director Maria Manuela Goyanes and Managing Director Emika Abe, Woolly is located in Washington, DC, equidistant from the Capitol Building and the White House. This unique location influences Woolly’s investment in actively working towards an equitable, participatory, and creative democracy. www.woollymammoth.net
Woolly Mammoth stands upon occupied, unceded territory: the ancestral homeland of the Nacotchtank whose descendants belong to the Piscataway peoples. Furthermore, the foundation of this city, and most of the original buildings in Washington, DC, were funded by the sale of enslaved people of African descent and built by their hands.
Strathmore presents and produces exemplary visual and performing arts programs for diverse audiences; creates dynamic arts education experiences; and nurtures creative ideas and conversations that advance the future of the arts.
All of Strathmore’s facilities are Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) STAR™ accredited.
Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, and facemasks are required to attend any performance or event inside any of its buildings.
For further information or tickets, call (301) 581-5100 or visit www.strathmore.org.