The Kennedy Center and the National Black Theatre to Present A COLLECTIVE SONIC RING SHOUT

Running May 26 - June 2, 2024.

By: Apr. 18, 2024
The Kennedy Center and the National Black Theatre to Present A COLLECTIVE SONIC RING SHOUT
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Join Nona Hendryx, Abby Dobson, Toshi Reagon, Joel Thompson, Carlos Simon, Courtney Bryan, Troy Anthony, and more as they take you on a sonic quest to The Gathering. With virtual host Mahogany L. Browne as our guide—along with the American Composers Orchestra and NEWorks Voices of Inspiration—this experience is meant to be our space to collectively center the social impact issue of our time to awaken joy as a source of liberation and to find love as our form of possibility and resistance. 

Through orchestral, choral, gospel, and soul choral music, this one-night-only event is the signature celebration for the Kennedy Center’s Conflux partnership with the National Black Theatre (NBT) running May 26 - June 2, 2024. The Gathering: A Collective Sonic Ring Shout will take us on a sonic quest produced by National Black Theatre & The Apollo. Taking place in the Opera House at the Kennedy Center, The Gathering will center the soul of Black folks and the heart of America's brilliant and bitter present. With Creative Concept and Direction by NBT’s Executive Artistic Director, Jonathan McCrory, and featuring 80 members of the American Composers Orchestra, conducted by Chelsea Tipton, II and 48 members of NEWorks Voices of Inspiration chorale under the leadership of Nolan Williams, Jr., this night will feature the D.C. premiere of Seven Last Words of the Unarmed by Joel Thompson alongside Carlos Simon’s Amen! and Courtney Bryan’s Sanctum. In conjunction with these pieces, the night has been curated in the African tradition of call and response to include original works by genre-defying Black artists such as Abby Dobson, Toshi Reagon, Troy Anthony, and Nona Hendryx.  

The Gathering: A Collective Sonic Ring Shout was originally performed to a sold-out audience at The Apollo in Harlem, New York 2022.

“Technology, along with social media have not just invited but commanded the world to join the ongoing conversation about American police brutality and our nation’s flawed criminal justice system. For generations, we’ve borne the brunt of America’s unrelenting ways and in response, NBT has continually answered this call by empowering artists, fostering community, prioritizing advocacy, and creating a space for a spectrum of voices to be heard. The Gathering is the coming together of all of these elements. What Jonathan McCrory has conceived is nothing short of a miracle; a sonic and spiritual salve to help our communities and our country to see itself healed and whole.  Much gratitude to our long-time collaborators and neighbors at The Apollo and Art For Justice for joining us as partners to bring this powerful work to the Kennedy Center.”

Sade Lythcott, CEO of the National Black Theatre

“The Ring Shout is historically an open space to grieve, awaken joy as a source of liberation, and use love as a form of resistance. The Gathering embodies that through all of the distinct and moving pieces of the evening, which at times may be emotionally difficult as we confront the horrors of injustice we’ve had to walk through,” said Apollo Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes. “But The Gathering also allows us to lean into a journey of the spirit that will leave audiences feeling healed and rejuvenated for the future. I’m thrilled that the Kennedy Center offers another chance for viewers to engage with this vital production.”

From May 26–June 2, experience a week of family-friendly programming curated by National Black Theatre to provide a central space for folk to be in dialogue with each other and to unearth the compounded/dynamic narratives that rest in the Black Diaspora existence in America. Seeking to uplift 

the need for narrative change surrounding Black Culture, NBT has curated a roster of dynamic programming that includes performances, social practice demonstrations, classes, and discussions throughout the week. All programming will take place on the Kennedy Center campus to help inform, inspire, and engage our community in civic and creative discourse. This all leads up to the signature event happening June 1, 2024, The Gathering: A Collective Sonic Ring Shout.

Schedule of Events:

May 26– “Dance Sanctuary” Movement

May 27–June 2 - Quilt Making Art Installation & Workshop

May 27–June 2 - “An Acknowledgement to Foggy Bottoms” installation by Mahogany L. Browne 

May 30–The Gathering: Carving The Path from Activism to Liberation (Panel Discussion)

May 31–The Gathering: “Traditional” Ring Shout curated by Rashida Bumbray

June 1–The Gathering: A Collective Sonic Ring Shout Performance

June 2–The Gathering: Learn To Love Yourself: Silent Disco and Portrait Series

All events and artists are subject to change without prior notice.


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