The Fire Ensemble led by Troy Anthony, The Revival: It Is Our Duty, 2022, The Shed, New York, June 18, 2022. Photo: Tori Mumtaz.
On December 10, weekly choir rehearsals at The Shed will culminate in a public sharing of a musical ritual.
Today, The Shed announced the continuation of its three-year partnership with Artistic Director Troy Anthony and The Fire Ensemble to foster community-building, intersectional artistic practice, and resource sharing with a new musical work, To Feel A Thing: A Ritual For Emergence by award-winning author and resident artist adrienne maree brown (Emergent Strategy, Pleasure Activism). With aims to expand the canon of musical works that place community, ritual, and collective liberation at their center, The Fire Ensemble is a choir community where singers of all backgrounds, identities, and abilities gather for weekly rehearsals at The Shed. This fall, The Fire Ensemble, in collaboration with brown, workshopped songs from their new work To Feel A Thing: A Ritual For Emergence. Featuring original music and text from brown, this work acknowledges the spirit inside each of us that is a wild creature of Earth, along with the feelings that lead us to adapt for survival and to come together to care for ourselves and our communities. Tickets are free and will be available here.
On Saturday, December 10, these rehearsals culminate in a free public performance in The Shed’s Tisch Skylights. This developmental concert sharing of To Feel A Thing: A Ritual For Emergence, featuring the choir and a gospel band, is directed by Charlotte Braithwaite and co-produced with Oregon Shakespeare Festival. To Feel A Thing: A Ritual For Emergence is co-commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) and The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and will be performed in the OSF 2023 season.
“I created The Fire Ensemble with the self-understanding that I am a better creative and human when I am collaborating within a community, and I have a deep desire to share this fundamental truth with other creatives,” said Troy Anthony. “I also believe that you should not have to dedicate your entire life to the arts in order to work at the highest levels of artistic expression. This is why I am beyond grateful that I’ve found a true collaborator in adrienne maree brown as our inaugural resident artist. Like me, adrienne understands the healing and transformative power that can be found in communal singing and ritual practice. I am grateful that she’s chosen to workshop To Feel A Thing with our choir community as the first stop on what is sure to be a long and fruitful creation journey. Her songs are already working their magic on us in rehearsal and we are excited to share them with a larger audience.”
“Taking inspiration from his spiritual and church technology roots, Troy Anthony creates new ways of making, expressing, and building community—reconnecting people with themselves and each other,” said Tamara McCaw, Chief Civic Program Officer at The Shed. “Over 100 voices gather each week to uplift one another through music rituals that celebrate both process and intention. On December 10, we invite the larger community to join in this collective voice and experience the transformative and healing power of The Fire Ensemble.”
“To Feel A Thing: A Ritual for Emergence is a musical ritual rooted in emergent strategy, the sound and spirit of gospel, and creating more possibilities for our species by awakening our capacity to feel what is, and feel each other,” said adrienne maree brown. “It is being developed with the idea that anyone will be able to use the score and lyrics to create their own Ritual for Emergence.”
In April 2022, The Shed and Troy Anthony’s The Fire Ensemble announced their three-year creative partnership. During the inaugural year, The Shed co-produced the choir’s first public performance, The Revival: It Is Our Duty, on June 18 in celebration of Juneteenth.
Anthony welcomes choir members to rehearse, workshop, and perform in transformative, large-scale music theater works and rituals rooted in predominantly Black musical styles including gospel, R&B, and musical theater. The emphasis of The Fire Ensemble’s sessions is on the process of rehearsing, community-building through the weekly gatherings, and the end-of-session performances as public celebrations. As part of this collaboration, The Shed provides the intergenerational choir community with rehearsal space, production support, resources, and strategic consultation to develop projects and support its members.
To Feel A Thing: A Ritual For Emergence is supported by M & T Bank
The creation of new work at The Shed is generously supported by the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Commissioning Fund and the Shed Commissioners. Major support for live productions at The Shed is provided by the Charina Endowment Fund.
About adrienne maree brown:
Creator adrienne maree brown grows healing ideas in public through her multigenre writing, her music, and her podcasts. Informed by 25 years of movement facilitation, somatics, Octavia E. Butler scholarship, and her work as a doula, brown has nurtured Emergent Strategy, Pleasure Activism, Radical Imagination, and Transformative Justice as ideas and practices for transformation. She is the author/editor of several published texts and the founder of the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute, where she is now the writer-in-residence. To Feel A Thing: A Ritual For Emergence is brown’s first long-form commissioned work in the realm of theatrical arts. Her intention is to build a musical ritual that communities will be able to use for their own emergence, awakening, embodiment, and transformation. brown believes this is a time when art needs to enliven and connect people to themselves and their capacity to shape the future through their own fractal choices.
About Troy Anthony:
Troy Anthony is a Kentucky-born composer/lyricist, director, and theater-maker based in NYC practicing Black queer joy. His work lives at the intersection of art, social justice, and community practice. In this spirit, he recently founded The Fire Ensemble as a home to develop new work and to share the joy of singing in community, which is currently being incubated by The Shed.
He has received commissions from The 5th Avenue Theater, The Civilians, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Public Theater, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and The Shed. He’s enjoyed residencies with BLKSPACE, The O’Neill Theater Center, and Village Theater. Additionally, he’s presented work at Joe’s Pub, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, JACK, Prospect Theater Company, the National Alliance of Musical Theater Conference, and 54 Below. Anthony recently received the Vivace Award from the Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation and is currently an artist-in-residence at The Chelsea Factory.
About Charlotte Braithwaite:
Creator/director Charlotte Braithwaite’s genre-defying work illuminates the realities and dreams of marginalized people—people whose stories have been silenced, disappeared, and ignored. Dealing with subject matter from the historical past to the distant future, her work brings to light issues of social justice, race, sex, power, and the complexities of the human condition.
A director of classical texts, multimedia, site-specific works, dance performances, operas, concerts, film, and installations, Brathwaite’s transdisciplinary inquiry manifests in spectacles of color and music. Her works live in the deep time of aural/oral history and create an immersive experience for audience and performer alike which offers new perspectives in both form and content. Brathwaite’s live art has been presented across the globe from North and South America to Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. She is the recipient of an Art Matters Award, Creative Capital Award, Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Fellowship Grant, a United States Artist Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Fellowship, multiple Map Fund Awards, and the Princess Grace George C. Wolfe Award amongst others. Brathwaite holds an MFA from Yale School of Drama and BA from the Amsterdam School for the Arts (the Netherlands). As an educator she has taught and mentored at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Amherst College, New York University, and CPBA at Stanford University. www.charlottebrathwaite.com
About The Fire Ensemble
The Fire Ensemble, formed in 2021, is an organization that creates revolutionary new work rooted in music, ritual, and revelation by gathering through choirs that foster intergenerational healing and collective liberation. During free, weekly rehearsals, people from different backgrounds and identities come together to explore the power of our individual voices to make music collectively. Though the invitation to participate in collective liberation is open to all, The Fire Ensemble is committed to centering BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.
About The Shed
The Shed is a new cultural institution of and for the 21st century. We produce and welcome innovative art and ideas, across all forms of creativity, to build a shared understanding of our rapidly changing world and a more equitable society. In our highly adaptable building on Manhattan’s west side, The Shed brings together established and emerging artists to create new work in fields ranging from pop to classical music, painting to digital media, theater to literature, and sculpture to dance. We seek opportunities to collaborate with cultural peers and community organizations, work with like-minded partners, and provide unique spaces for private events. As an independent nonprofit that values invention, equity, and generosity, we are committed to advancing art forms, addressing the urgent issues of our time, and making our work impactful, sustainable, and relevant to the local community, the cultural sector, New York City, and beyond.
About Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Led by Artistic Director Nataki Garrett and Executive Director David Schmitz, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) expands access to the transformational power of art and art-making. A global entity and an ever-evolving container for the future that responds to changing tides, the organization is committed to co-liberation through radically inclusive, accessible, and collaborative practices. OSF centers and nurtures artists and multimodal, multidisciplinary work. OSF was founded in 1935 and has grown from a three-day festival of two plays to a nationally renowned theater arts organization that presents a rotating repertory season of up to 8 plays and musicals, including both classics and new work. OSF productions have been presented on Broadway, internationally, and at regional, community, and high school theaters across the country. In 2020, the organization launched O!, its new digital stage featuring performances of groundbreaking art and mind-expanding discussions that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. O! attracts thousands of views per month from audience members in over 50 countries. Learn more at osfashland.org.