Monday, 29 March 2021

Opera, systemic racism, mass incarceration: White Snake Projects' Death by Life

White Snake Projects: Death by Life - Artwork by Renaldo Hudson
Artwork by Renaldo Hudson
White Snake Projects, a USA-based activist opera company founded by Singapore-born, USA-based Cerise Jacobs, is presenting a new digital opera in May. Death by Life was conceived as a monument of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The opera explores the intersection of systemic racism and mass incarceration using texts written by incarcerated writers and their families, with a score by five Black composers—Jacinth Greywoode, Leila Adu-Gilmore, Jonathan Bailey Holland, David Sanford and Mary D. Watkins—representing a broad range of ages and styles.

In the run up to the opera's premiere, White Snake Projects is presenting three on-line events exploring themes raised in the opera. The interactive forum Art as Transformation: Music and Drama for Incarcerated Youth (30 March 2021) explores art as a means of transformation for people who have experienced or are experiencing incarceration with Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble, Oakdale Community Choir which provides choral singing experiences for men at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center (Oakdale Prison) and Storycatchers Theatre, which helps youth in the juvenile justice system tell their stories through musical theatre.

Art and Imagination Inside Prisons (6 April 2020) is a roundtable discussion with formerly incarcerated artists about the creative processes involved in making, learning, and teaching art in prisons and a virtual gallery of art by incarcerated artists will be hosted on White Snake Projects’ website. The final event is also a panel discussion Freedom-Making in an Age of Mass Incarceration featuring a number of activists and academics and which will be followed by at Q&A. Both discussions will be moderated by Alice Kim, Director of Human Rights Practice at the University of Chicago’s Pozen Center.

Death by Life will be presented on-line on 20, 22, and 25 May 2021, with Tiana Sorenson, soprano, Lucia Bradford, mezzo-soprano, Aaron Blake, tenor and Nicholas Davis, baritone, directed by Kimille Howard with Tian Hui Ng, music director. The sets are immersive 3D environments created in Unreal Engine by Curvin Huber, White Snake’s Director of Innovation.

Full details from the White Snake Projects website.

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