What is Opera on the Mall?
Each year, Opera Philadelphia hosts Opera on the Mall, a free opera screening attended by thousands of people in Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park. In 2017, more than 6,000 people attended, including many families introducing their children to opera for the first time, with picnic baskets, lawn chairs, and blankets in tow.
This year, we need your support to hold this signature event. Upon the success of this Kickstarter campaign, we will show an HD screening of We Shall Not Be Moved at Opera on the Mall on Saturday, September 29, 2018. We strongly believe that this work should be shared with the Philadelphia community.
Excluding recording and production expenses, Opera on the Mall costs a minimum of $160,000. We have secured $135,000 from corporate and individual supporters. We need your help to raise the last $25,000 to put us over the top and bring We Shall Not Be Moved to Opera on the Mall!
About WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED
Combining spoken word, contemporary dance, video projection, and classical, R&B, and jazz singing with a brooding, often joyful score, We Shall Not Be Moved tells the story of five North Philadelphia teens on the run. Their confrontation with a local police officer, Glenda, rises from the enduring ashes of the Philadelphia Police Department's 1985 bombing of the MOVE compound in West Philadelphia, and raises timely questions about national identity, race, gender, the failure for some in the public education system, and personal responsibility.
This powerful opera was conceptualized more than five years ago, when Haitian-American composer Daniel Bernard Roumain was inspired by the poems of Philadelphia High School students who participated in Opera Philadelphia’s Hip H’opera program. Hip H'opera was a collaborative project in partnership with Art Sanctuary, which encourages students to tell their stories via music, words, hip-hop, and opera. From this poetry, the idea for the opera was born. Opera Philadelphia premiered We Shall Not Be Moved during our O17 festival in September 2017. This poetic, interdisciplinary chamber opera draws on the collective talents of composer Roumain, Haitian-American spoken word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and peerless director, choreographer, and dramaturge Bill T. Jones.
Why Do We Need You?
Opera on the Mall is free to the public and costs Opera Philadelphia at least $160,000 to produce. Costs include:
- A/V and equipment rental such as screens, speakers, generators, electricity, and live image magnification ($83,000)
- Event logistics and labor ($43,000)
- Supertitle (captions) production and supertitle screens ($7,500)
- Event costs such as permits, insurance, and supplies ($6,500)
- Marketing expenses including advertising, printing, signage, program, photography, space rental, and cleaning fee ($20,000)
As a Kickstarter backer, your support will go directly towards making this free, open-to-the-public event possible for thousands to enjoy.
The Creative Team of We Shall Not Be Moved
The Composer: Daniel Bernard Roumain's acclaimed work as a composer and performer spans more than two decades, and has been commissioned by artists and institutions worldwide. “About as omnivorous as a contemporary artist gets” (The New York Times), DBR is perhaps the only composer whose collaborations traverse the worlds of Philip Glass, Bill T. Jones, Savion Glover, and Lady Gaga. Known for his signature violin sounds infused with a myriad of electronic and urban music influences, DBR takes his genre-bending music beyond the proscenium. He has been nominated for an EMMY for Outstanding Musical Composition for his work with ESPN; featured as keynote performer at technology conferences; and written large scale, site-specific music for public parks.
The Librettist: Marc Bamuthi Joseph is a curator of words, ideas, and protagonists. His bold poetically-driven work investigates social issues and cultural identity. He is a steadfast believer in empathy as the most valuable currency in building community, and seeks to spark curiosity and dialogue about freedom, compassion, and fearlessness through pioneering arts stewardship and education. A 2017 TEDGlobal Fellow, Bamuthi graced the cover of Smithsonian Magazine as one of America’s Top Young lnnovators in the Arts and Sciences. He is an inaugural recipient of the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship, which annually recognizes 50 of the country’s greatest living artists. Dance Magazine named him a Top Influencer in 2017.
The Director, Choreographer & Dramaturg: Bill T. Jones is a multi-talented artist, choreographer, dancer, theater director, and writer who has received honors ranging from the Human Rights Campaign’s 2016 Visibility Award, 2013 National Medal of Arts to a 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award and Kennedy Center Honors in 2010. Inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2009, Mr. Jones's ventures into Broadway theater resulted in a 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography in the critically acclaimed FELA!, the new musical he co-conceived, co-wrote, directed, and choreographed. He also earned a 2007 Tony Award for Best Choreography in Spring Awakening as well as an Obie Award for the show’s 2006 off-Broadway run. His choreography for the off-Broadway production of The Seven earned him a 2006 Lucille Lortel Award.
The extraordinary cast includes Lauren Whitehead as Un/Sung; Kirstin Chávez as Glenda; John Holiday as John Blue; Daniel Shirley as John Little; Adam Richardson as John Mack; Aubrey Allicock as John Henry; Michael Bishop; Duane Lee Holland, Jr.; Tendayi Kuumba; and Caci Cole Pritchett as the OGs. We Shall Not Be Moved was conducted by Viswa Subbaraman.
About Opera Philadelphia
Opera Philadelphia is dedicated to embracing innovation and developing opera for the 21st century. We Shall Not Be Moved exemplifies our three-pronged mission:
- Delivering outstanding productions of traditional and new repertoire that engage our public and propel our genre forward
- Identifying extraordinary artists, both established and emerging, and provide opportunities for them to create their most imaginative and inspired work
- Presenting innovative programming relevant to the multi-cultural Philadelphia region that broadens and diversifies the opera audience
Opera Philadelphia is a registered 501 (c)(3) nonprofit.
Check out a sampling of the rewards you will receive as a contributor to the campaign:
Risks and challenges
Opera on the Mall is an outdoors event in Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia. We have reserved the space for Saturday, September 29 however, as with all outdoor events, we are subject to the whims of Mother Nature. In the event of inclement weather, a rain date will be announced.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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