(SAN FRANCISCO, CA) -- The Breath Project—a new theatrical initiative formed by Artistic Director and Co-Founder Gamal Abdel Chasten and Co-Founder Marieke Gaboury in response to the current global spotlight on racial injustice against Black people—announced the lineup for the inaugural The Breath Project Virtual Festival being held on October 24-25.
In partnership with Two River Theater and 23 other theater companies across the country, the free festival will feature 24 world premiere works created by multidisciplinary theater artists of color that are all 8 minutes and 46 seconds in length. In the wake of the death of George Floyd, the 8 minutes and 46 second time frame has become a symbol for the racial injustice faced by countless members of the Black community across the United States.
The festival takes place Saturday, October 24 (5:00pm ET and 8:00pm ET) and Sunday, October 25 at 8:00pm ET. To RSVP for The Breath Project Virtual Festival, click here.
“We received many inspiring submissions from around the country to be housed in our archive, and a third of those will be featured at the virtual festival,” said Chasten. “The range of works we received was vast, and included more traditional theatrical presentations and those that challenged the idea of what is theater in this moment of isolation. It is my hope that when people visit our website, attend the virtual festival, or follow and support our vision, they will have their boundaries pushed and their ideas challenged, and that, in the process, we change the face of American theatre.”
“Two River Theater is thrilled to be working with The Breath Project and the 23 partner organizations on this virtual festival. In this moment of unrest and uncertainty, as is our mission, we look to our artistic communities to direct our gaze to the life of the human spirit. The Breath Project’s commitment to art, action and advocacy aligns with our mission and gives us all an opportunity to use our collective creative energy to shift the American theater towards justice” says Kamilah Bush, Two River Theater Artistic Assistant/Breath Project Partner Curator.
Following a call for entries in August 2020, over 65 original works—ranging from monologues and slam poetry to puppetry and dance activism—were submitted. From those entries, a diverse panel of artists of color selected the 24 works that will comprise the inaugural festival. All works that have met the required submission guidelines will be archived on The Breath Project website.
The 24 selected works (in alphabetical order) are:
· Mhir Agrawal / Gamal Chasten – “Say Hello Stewart”
· Aldo Billingslea — “3 Story Walk Up”
· Alumni Theater Company — “Perspectives”
· Ananya Dance Theatre — “Just Breathe”
· James Brunt — “Waiting for Death”
· Giovanny Camarena — “Don’t Be Afraid”
· The Char’Actors — “The Cycle”
· Tyharra Cozier — “Breath”
· El Colectivo de Dramaturgos de Puerto Rico – “inhala – exhala”
· Henri Franklin — “Views of Color in 8:46”
· Yetta Gottesman — “Oh, Maria”
· Ilasiea Gray — “Acting While Black”
· David Guster — “Nice to Meet You”
· Candice Handy — “Black Quarantine Date”
· Harvey — “Breonna’s Prayer”
· Gabrielle Jackson — “The Ballad of Jacob Blake”
· Angela G. King — “8:46”
· Bruce Lemon, Jr. — “The Act of Ownership”
· Anthony Sky Ng-Thow-Hing — “Transcending Isolation: Hope”
· Josh Richardson — “Choosing Sides”
· Derek J. Snow — “The Ballad of the Dying Body or The Breath to Say”
· Jessica Gabrielle Thomas — “Glow | Eternal”
· Bil Wright — “Pulse”
· David Zayas / Gamal Chasten — “I Just Don’t Know”
The Breath Project seeks to build a more equitable theater community in the country and to actively dismantle structural racism in the American theater through a three-pronged mission: Art, Action, and Advocacy.
ART - In partnership with organizations and artists across the nation, The Breath Project will create, develop, and support original theatrical works, created by BIPOC artists. The work that is housed by The Breath Projectwill be used as a tool for education and advocacy, as a living time capsule of this moment in history.
ACTION - The Breath Project is working to build relationships between local artists and theaters in their community and region, creating more opportunities for BIPOC theater artists, technicians, and administrators throughout the country. Working across national partnerships, The Breath Project will seek to end the notion that plays by BIPOC artists fulfill a quota or check a box for a theater, and instead become an organic and permanent part of the American Theater landscape.
ADVOCACY - The Breath Project will work to support the organizations that produce, fund, and support the American Theater to eliminate the racism and biases that exist in our institutions and business practices.
Theaters partnering with The Breath Project include (in alphabetical order): Alabama Shakespeare Festival(Montgomery, AL); Alumni Theater Company (Pittsburgh, PA); Cherry Lane Theatre (New York, NY); Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (Cincinnati, Ohio); City Theatre Company (Pittsburgh, PA); Cornerstone Theater Company (Los Angeles, CA); Curious Theatre Company (Denver, CO); Detroit Public Theatre (Detroit, MI); Dorset Theatre Festival (Dorset, VT), Face Off Theatre (Kalamazoo, MI), Flat Rock Playhouse (Flat Rock, NC); Flint Repertory Theatre (Flint, MI); Kumu Kahua Theatre (Honolulu, HI); Marin Theatre Company (Mill Valley, CA); Network of Ensemble Theaters (National Service Organization); Palo Alto Children’s Theatre (Palo Alto, CA); Pillsbury House Theatre (Minneapolis, MN); Portland Center Stage (Portland, OR); Rude Mechs (Austin, TX); San Diego Repertory Theatre (San Diego, CA); Southern Rep Theatre (New Orleans, LA); Studio Theatre(Washington DC); Two River Theater (Red Bank, NJ); and Western Michigan University Department of Theatre (Kalamazoo, MI).