Annenberg Center Live Presents The World Premiere Of The Theatrical Performance VESSELS
Annenberg Center Live presents the world premiere of Vessels, March 7-10. In this theatrical performance, seven women explore the transcendental possibilities of song as a survival tool during the slave trade's Middle Passage. Set in an interactive, sculptural environment that invokes the infamous slave ships, this interdisciplinary performance considers the question "What does freedom sound like in a space of confinement?" Each performance will be followed by an opportunity for audience members to process the experience in an interactive setting with the performers. Vessels is co-commissioned by Annenberg Center Live in partnership with Junebug Productions and National Performance Network/Visual Artists Network (NPN/VAN). Tickets are available at AnnenbergCenter.org or 215.898.3900.
Co-producers Rebecca Mwase and Ron Regin say of the production, "Vessels has been guided by spirit and our ancestors from the beginning. The idea arrived in response to a query from poet Nikki Giovanni about how millions of enslaved ancestors arrived on this shore sane. We believe it was the singing, particularly women singing, that helped make those arrivals possible."
"With our many collaborators, we've co-created Vessels as an exercise in speculative history. We do not seek to re-stage the Middle Passage, and we know that most accounts and histories of the Middle Passage come directly from the mouths and hands of white men, who sought to uphold or dismantle the institution of slavery. Through performance creation, an act of embodied remembrance and imagination, we've attempted to transmute a part of the Middle Passage's cultural, psychic, and spiritual wounds, and to contribute to intergenerational healing. We want that healing to extend to the stories, places, spaces, and bodies swept into the currents of the Transatlantic Slave Trade."
About the Artists
Rebecca Mwase (Instigator, Co-Shaper, Co-Producer & Ensemble Member) is a Zimbabwean-American multi-disciplinary theatre and performance artist, creative consultant, producer, and cultural organizer working at the intersection of art and social justice. In both creative process and performance, Mwase works to discover physical methods to release the toxic, stagnant energies of systemic oppression while transforming and transmuting that energy into joy, desire, love, self-worth, adoration and esteem. They have cultivated their craft with ArtSpot Productions, Dah Theater, the Highlander Center for Research & Education, Urban Bush Women and Junebug Productions in cultural organizing, devising and storytelling.
Ron Ragin (Co-Shaper & Co-Producer) writes, sings, composes, and makes interdisciplinary performance work that integrates sound, text, and movement. Their creative interests include music of the African Diaspora, embodied ancestral memory, improvisational creative processes, liberation aesthetics, and the development and maintenance of spiritual technologies. They grew up in Perry, Georgia and received musical training at the Saint James Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, later performing with Amara Tabor-Smith and Grisha Coleman, studying with Joy Harjo and Brenda Wong Aoki, and performing as soloist on Christopher Tin's Grammy Award-winning album Calling All Dawns.
The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts serves as a major cultural destination and crossroads connecting Penn and the greater Philadelphia region through innovative human expression in theatre, music, dance, and film, serving an annual audience of almost 50,000. The Annenberg Center also serves as a key resource for the arts at Penn, connecting master artists with Penn students in support of and as an enhancement to the arts curriculum. Student performing arts groups are also key users of the Annenberg Center's multiple performance and rehearsal spaces, while also staffing many operational roles throughout the academic year. In reflection of Penn's core values as a world-respected academic institution, the Annenberg Center emphasizes artistic and intellectual excellence, diversity, and rigor in its presentations; prioritizes broad inclusiveness in the artists, audiences, and groups it serves; manages outstanding performance, conference, and meeting facilities; and stresses comprehensive event planning, production support, and customer service. The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is a major provider of performing arts access for school children and actively engages a broad range of primary, secondary, and post-secondary student audiences and inclusive constituencies from the campus, community, and greater Philadelphia region. Visit www.AnnenbergCenter.org.