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PRELUDE—WE BEGIN WITH PLAY considers the phantoms of public space and the paradox of Black political representation. In We Begin with Play PRISONER #25 runs away to the [political] circus—a place that entertains ideas of democracy, merit, and justice. Using magic, daredevil tricks, and games of chance, PRISONER #25 manifests a radical counterpublics, a Black surrealist heterotopia for discourse and exchange.

Sited from August to November 2020 during the heightened attention of the U.S. presidential campaign, the circus will play in “fugitive” space and in plain sight. The work is sited in appropriated places, temporal spaces, and everyday sites of the mundane. In some sites, such as Black social spaces, Collaborators will work with organizers, elders/memory keepers, and community-identified leadership to compose, design, perform and install immersive guerilla theatre, direct actions, and/or environmental landscapes. The [political] circus will also play in locations of direct contradiction and contention.


In these sites Collaborators will work as an ensemble to compose, design, perform and install immersive guerilla theatre, direct actions, and environmental landscapes. In each location, the circus will highlight the core tensions in the current political, economic, cultural, and ecological moment, while amplifying the Black surreal within the space/time/place continuum and returning to the central question Hortense Spillers raises in her work, The Idea of Black Culture. "If Black culture is critical culture," Spillers posits, "perhaps it is an unfinished project."




libretto excerpt:

Trapped in a long-standing intergalactic game of chance, a TRIXSTA and an EMPIRE face-off once again in their 500+ year battle to win the bodies, minds and souls of MARVELOUS. From one era to the next they cross multiple spaces, places, and ecosystems, and still, neither a TRICKSTER nor an EMPIRE can claim complete victory. The rise of a new kourt, a band of nitwits, heightens the stakes. A TRICKSTER must devise a winning strategy…

principled artists:

this project is made possible by :

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