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ArtsEmerson Announces Exclusive Livestream IN THE ABSENCE OF THINGS

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The piece will be available on demand December 01 @ 9:30PM ET – December 08 @ 6:00PM ET.

ArtsEmerson Announces Exclusive Livestream IN THE ABSENCE OF THINGS

ArtsEmerson, Boston's leading presenter of contemporary world theatre and the professional presenting and producing organization at Emerson College, is excited to partner with Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and Baryshnikov Arts Center to commission vocalist-composer and writer Somi Kakoma's in the absence of things and present a free, virtual, exclusive livestream at the short film on Tuesday, December 01 at 8:00PM ET, in partnership with National Black Theatre and Salon Africana.

Vocalist-composer and writer Somi Kakoma forges new ground with an experimental short film about the spiritual consequence of the global pandemic on creative practice. COVID-19 hit while Somi was on the road, so instead of returning to her residence in New York City, she decided to head to Illinois to shelter in place with her mother in the Midwestern town where she grew up. That town is also home to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and its Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Like most people, Somi's professional life and plans were dramatically interrupted by the pandemic and she found herself reflecting on the deep sense of personal vacancy she was feeling in the absence of live performance.

In exploring this theme, commissioners from Krannert Center, Baryshnikov Arts Center (New York, NY), and ArtsEmerson (Boston, MA), have joined forces to support the creation of in the absence of things. Partially narrated by Somi's mother, this meditative film registers what Somi calls "the emotional vibration and undemocratic fragility of cultural space and the living stage." The piece also aims to frame the disruption of otherwise quieted cultural spaces as a larger metaphor for the work most American arts institutions still need to do in service of Black storytelling.

Over the course of an intensive three-day workshop in Krannert Center for the Performing Arts' renowned Foellinger Great Hall in the fall of 2020, Somi and her collaborators, carefully adhering to all established Covid health and safety protocols, wrote and filmed an experimental piece that blends spoken word, art song, and movement with deconstructed concert recordings from Somi's new live album, Holy Room - Live at Alte Oper with Frankfurt Radio Big Band.

David Dower, ArtsEmerson's Artistic Director, shares, "We've been looking forward to introducing Somi to ArtsEmerson audiences for years now, and this short film gives a real peek into why. There's a beautiful ache at the center of her performance that perfectly captures the moment for all of us, and a vulnerability that gives us direct access to her private sense of loss as well as her determination to hope. in the absence of things should whet the appetite for the day we can welcome her to an ArtsEmerson stage."

Following the exclusive December 01 screening, Somi and the director of the film, Mariona Lloreta, will be joined by Obie Award-winning Artistic Director of New York City's National Black Theatre (NBT), Jonathan McCrory, for a live conversation about the meaning of the film, the collaborators' creative process, and the role of Black artists during and beyond COVID-19. This event is also presented in partnership with NBT and Salon Africana.

The screening and conversation are FREE, and tickets to the event can be reserved here.

This performance and conversation will last approximately one hour. Following the livestream, the piece will be available on demand December 01 @ 9:30PM ET - December 08 @ 6:00PM ET.

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