Charlotte Brathwaite’s Bee Boy
2017 CAST Faculty Grant
Bee Boy is an interdisciplinary artistic response to the violent murders of black men and women around the country, to bee colony collapse disorder, to #Blacklivesmatter, to an unjust prison/industrial complex, to human-animal-technological hybridization, to life in urban streets, and the emotional toil it takes to turn hate to love. It is a meditation on struggle and change in a world of chaos.
Composer/musician/performer Guillermo E. Brown, a rising star on the avant-garde pop-music scene, and stage director, Princess Grace award-winner and MIT assistant professor of theater arts Charlotte Brathwaite collaborate on this original piece, workshopped at MIT in fall 2016 and spring 2017.
Bee Boy is inspired by the Alexander Pushkin poem The Tale of Tsar Sultan, which became an opera by Rimsky-Korsakov called Tale of Tsar Saltan. In the opera’s third act, a banished knight/prince is transformed by a magic swan-bird into a bumblebee so that he can fly home to his father, who does not know he’s alive. The opera’s famous excerpt “Flight of the Bumblebee” is the basis of this experimental work. Structurally the musical interlude is divided, slowed down, chopped up, remixed, reassembled, and collaged with text, sounds, bodies, and choral voices. Bee Boy’s story line is ripped from science, the blogosphere, and our real everyday lives.
In Bee Boy, the survival of the body and the survival of the planet conflate. The plight of bees (bee colony collapse disorder) and the decline of the ecosystem speak to the dissolution of black communities in light of police brutality as seen in the murders of Laquan Davis, Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, others. #Blacklivesmatter asks what can be done to end injustice, to ensure the rights of all humans to live safely, free, without fear of violence or retribution. Bee Boy delves into the emotional toil it takes to turn hate to love.
Work-in-Progress Showing & Community Discussion
May 4, 2017 / 8:00pm
MIT Kirsch Auditorium
Stata Center, Building 32, room 123
32 Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
Open to the public, no tickets required
Bee Boy is an artistic response to violence in our times. Inspired by the destruction of human lives
by institutional injustice, murder, oppression, incarceration, and the parallel destruction of the
environment, and the disappearance of bees (bee colony collapse disorder).
Bee Boy is a meditation on struggle and change in a world of chaos. It reflects on the emotional toil it
takes to turn hate to love.
The beginning stages of the project’s development were shared in a work-in-progress showing and conversation —the unveiling of a new instrument prototype, soul songs about the end of our world, words and food, in conversation with greater Boston/Cambridge community activists.
DIRECTOR & CO-CREATOR Charlotte Brathwaite, MIT Theater Arts Faculty
ARTIST, PERFORMER & CO-CREATOR Guillermo E. Brown (aka Pegasus Warning)
INSTRUMENT & SOUND INTERACTION DESIGNER Rucyl
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER Obehi Janice
COSTUME & INSTALLATION/SET DESIGNER Abigail Deville
COMMUNITY PANELISTS: Brandon Green, Catherine T. Morris (BAMS Fest), DS4SI: Design Studio for Social Intervention, Marsha Parrilla (Danza Orgánica), Ashley Rose, James Ramsey, Thabiti Brown (Codman Academy Charter Public School), Erin Kay Anderson, Nia Evans (Boston Ujima Project) and Cliff Notez (Hip Story).
February 13, 2016
All the World’s a Stage
October 7-16, 2016
Kenneth Bailey (ds4si) was inspired to cofound the Design Studio for Social Intervention in 2006 while a fellow at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning’s Center for Reflective Community Practice. Since then, he has put DS4SI at the forefront of sharing design tools with communities of color to help them take on complex problems like social violence, food deserts, climate change, school closings, etc. His community-based social intervention work has included Action Lab (2012-2014), Public Kitchen (2011-2013), School Lab (2012-2013), Making Planning Processes Public (2013), STREETLAB: Upham’s (2013), M/B/T/A Lab (2013), and more. His work has included collaborations with SenseLab (Montreal), Theatrum Mundi, MIT’s Center for Civic Media and Community Labor United. His recent speaking engagements have included Creative Time (2013), Hand in Glove (2013), New England Foundation for the Arts (2013), Encuentro (Brazil) 2013 and more. www.ds4si.org
Thabiti Brown is the Head of School at Codman Academy. He joined the school as the founding Humanities teacher in 2001 before serving as Academic Dean and Codman’s first Principal. Prior to joining Codman, he taught at the Beacon School in New York and at the International School of Panama. Thabiti is a recipient of a 2005 Milken Educator Award. In 2011, he was awarded a Lynch Fellowship for Boston school leaders affiliated with Boston College Graduate School of Education.
In 2014, Thabiti was awarded EL Education’s inaugural Silverberg Leadership Award and was named by the Boston Chamber of Commerce as one of Ten Outstanding Young Leaders. Thabiti’s special interest is in schools as community centers. He is a member of the Codman Square Health Center board of directors. Thabiti is a graduate of Brown University (BA in American Civilizations) and Teachers College – Columbia University (MA in Social Studies).
Brandon G. Green is a creative and educator from Selma, AL, currently residing in Boston, MA. He was recently seen as Mr. Tambo in SpeakEasy Stage’s production of The Scottsboro Boys (IRNE Winner/Elliot Norton Nom – Best Ensemble) and as BJJ in Company One/ArtsEmerson’s production of An Octoroon (Elliot Norton Winner/IRNE Nom- Best Actor). Other credits include work with the Lyric Stage Company, 3050 Music Group, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Brand New Classic, Huntington Theatre Company, Nora/Underground Railway, Cape Rep Theatre & Fresh Ink. Brandon is currently voicing the roles of Marcus and Benedict in the upcoming podcast, The Ordinary Epic. A proud graduate of Alabama State University’s Theatre Arts program, he holds an MFA in Acting from Brandeis University where he now teaches the Suzuki Method of Actor Training. Brandon also teaches with Daniel Beaty’s IDream Project. He can be seen this summer as Benvolio in CSC’s production of Romeo & Juliet.
Ashley Rose is a Haitian-American award-winning artist and educator from Boston. After Northeastern University, Ashley Rose pursued a career working in schools, prisons and community centers teaching art, activism and education. In 2014 Ashley-Rose was given the Onein3 Impact Award and named one of the most influential people under age 35 in Boston. In 2016 Mayor Marty Walsh named her one of Boston’s Extraordinary Women for her work with within arts, education, organizing and community. She has gone on to win countless awards including the 2017 City Works Journal National Poetry Competition. Her work is featured in numerous poetry collections and anthologies including The Anthohogy of Liberation Poetry. Her past acting experience includes roles in For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuff, Having Our Say and various roles in Boston’s One Minute Play Festival. Ashley-Rose has an extensive background as a community organizer and has worked at at civic focused organizations like Americorps and LISC. She led the first youth Participatory Budgeting process in the USA. Currently she works as the Arts and Wellness Coordinator at Community Academy Of Science and Health High School and continues to use poetry, science and activism as way to empower young people.
A native of Toronto, Canada, Charlotte Brathwaite joined the internationally renowned La MaMa E.T.C’s Great Jones Repertory as an actor at the age of 16 and performed in New York and in over 12 countries with the company. An independent director, her works presented in the Americas, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia, range in subject matter from the historical past to the distant future illuminating issues of race, sex, power and the complexities of the human condition without adhering to limitation of genre. A director of classical and unconventional texts, operas, dance, multi-media, site-specific, installations and concerts her work has been commissioned and presented by Central Park SummerStage, DC Arts Commission, 651 Arts, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, Aarshi Theater Company Kolkata, Test! Festival Zagreb, Het Veem Theater Amsterdam, Scarlett Project Trinidad, The Living Theater, Joe’s Pub, La MaMa E.T.C, JACK Brooklyn, Studio Museum Harlem and HAU Berlin among others. Upcoming: Portrait of myself as my Father with choreographer Nora Chipaumire; Prophetika: an oratorio with composer Courtney Bryan and artist Abigail DeVille; La Paloma Prisoner with writer Raquel Almazan and Woman in the Dunes with artist Simone Leigh. Brathwaite has been dramaturge for Kyle Abraham/A.I.M., is co-founder of Naturaleza Humana performance group Berlin, and has assistant directed for Yale Repertory, Lincoln Center, Yale Opera, The Public Theater, Richard Foreman, Robert Wilson, Francesca Zambello and Peter Sellars. Awards/Honors: Princess Grace Foundation Award; Julian Milton Kaufman Prize for Directing; Rockefeller Residency (A.I.M); National Performing Network Creation Fund; Glimmerglass Festival Young Artist Program (2013/14, 2014/15); Princess Grace Foundation New Works grant; Visiting Artist Williams College; Visiting Professor Amherst College. BA, Amsterdam School for the Arts, the Netherlands; MFA, Yale School of Drama. Brathwaite is currently Assistant Professor of Theater Arts at MIT.
Multi-disciplinary performer Guillermo E. Brown’s (aka Pegasus Warning) work includes Soul at the Hands of the Machine, The Beat Kids’ Open Rhythm System and Sound Magazine, Black Dreams 1.0, …Is Arturo Klauft, Handeheld, Shuffle Mode, WOOF TICKET EP, PwEP2, forthcoming full length album Dream&Destroy and performance piece Bee Boy. His one-man theater piece, Robeson In Space, premiered at Luna Stage (2005).
Additional work includes sound installation Crack Unicorns at The Studio Museum in Harlem, performance pieces Postcolonial Bacchanale (
A graduate of Wesleyan University (BA) and Bard College (MFA), he was Adjunct Professor at New York University’s Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music and Gallatin School (2006-2008) and Artist-In-Residence at Pacific Northwest College of Art (2010). He is a recipient of a 2016 Creative Capital award in Performing Arts for Bee Boy, a recipient of Harvestworks New Works residency (2001) and Van Lier Fellowship (2002), and a residency at MIT’s Center for Art, Science, and Technology (2016-2017).
Most recently he appears as the drummer in the house band (called KAREN) of The Late Late Show with James Corden on CBS, with music director Reggie Watts. In addition he is featured on over 45 recordings, and has appeared live, recorded and as drummer/vocalist/collaborator with Vijay Iyer, Mike Ladd, David S. Ware, William Parker, Matthew Shipp, Rob Reddy, Roy Campbell, Spring Heel Jack, Anti-Pop Consortium, Anthony Braxton, DJ Spooky, El-P, Carl Hancock Rux, Vernon Reid, DJ Logic, Latasha Diggs, Dave Burrell, George Lewis, Mendi+Keith Obadike, Victor Gama, David Gunn, Arto Lindsay, Gordon Voidwell, Tecla, Jahcoozi, Robot Koch, Das Racist, Jamie Lidell, Saul Williams, CANT, Mocky, Twin Shadow, Busdriver, Grisha
Abigail DeVille lives and works in the Bronx, New York. She attended Pratt Institute (2000) and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2007), earning a BFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology (2007) and an MFA from Yale University (2011). She has attended residencies at Harvard University (2014-15), the Studio Museum in Harlem (2013-14), and the International Studio and Curatorial Program, Brooklyn (2012). Her awards include grants from the Joan Mitchell Foundation (2012) and The Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund of the New York Community Trust (2012), among others. Her work has been included in the exhibitions Rites of Spring, Contemporary Art Museum Houston (2014); Guts, Abrons Art Center, New York (2013); Black in the Abstract, Contemporary Art Museum Houston (2013); Invisible Men: Beyond the Veil, Galerie Michel Rein, Paris (2013); Gastown Follies, Artspeak, Vancouver (2013); Bronx Calling: The Second AIM Biennial, Bronx Museum (2013); Future Generation Prize Exhibition, the 55th Venice Biennial (2013); They might as well have been remnants of the boat, Calder Foundation, New York (2013); Fore, Studio Museum, New York (2012); Future Generation Prize Exhibition, Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev (2012); First Among Equals, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2012); The Ungovernables, New Museum Triennial, New York (2012); Bosh Young Talent Show, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2011); The (S) Files 2011, El Museo del Barrio, New York (2011); Planet of Slums, Mason Gross Galleries, Rutgers University (2010); Dark Star, Recess Gallery, New York (2010); and Gold Mountain, Marginal Utility, Philadelphia (2010). She has designed sets for theatrical productions—directed by Peter Sellers and Charlotte Brathwaite—at venues such as the Stratford Festival (2014), JACK (2014), and Joe’s Pub (2014).
Rucyl was an original member of underground hip-hop group The Goats (Ruffhouse/Columbia Records) from 1992-1994, which toured and performed internationally with bands like Bad Brains, Fishbone, and The Beastie Boys. Her first interactive pieces included the Chakakhantroller, a wearable interface MIDI controller for audio and visual performance, and installation Watch What You Are, in collaboration with Justin Downs, which was featured as part of Eyebeam Interactive Art Gallery’s “Double Take” exhibition in July 2008.
Also in 2008, Rucyl co-founded Saturn Never Sleeps (SNS), a futuretronic label and audiovisual group created during the resurgence of the contemporary Afrofuturism movement, with DJ/producer King Britt. Saturn Never Sleeps was founded on the principles of process as performance, inspired greatly by the media and music of the great experimental jazz musician, Sun Ra. These collaborative, audiovisual live performances were featured at The Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, Painted Bride Art Center, The River To River Festival at the World Financial Center in New York City, Art Basel in Miami, and Moogfest in Asheville, NC. Rucyl traveled internationally with SNS to Istanbul, Berlin, Madrid, Switzerland (Stadtmusik Festival) and Tokyo (Micro-cosmos). Curated performances in Philadelphia and Brooklyn included artists Taylor McFerrin, Ras G, Sarah White, Teebs, Ben Neill, Flying Lotus, Stef Eye, Shabazz Palaces, and Tokimonsta. In June 2010, the Leeway Foundation featured Rucyl on a “Women in Indie Music” panel where she discussed the re-emerging lo-fi/DIY aesthetic in music, digital distribution and the place of activism within her art. In spring 2011, Saturn Never Sleeps opened for TV on the Radio, and appeared with the Sun Ra Arkestra at Eyebeam’s event “Past Futures.” SNS released a series of works and podcasts from under-the-radar POC artists from 2009-2011. SNS’s full-length album, Yesterday’s Machine, was released in summer 2011.
After SNS disbanded in 2011, Rucyl continued with collaborative performances highlighting POC women and artists of the experimental electronic genre under the moniker Woman + Machine. Her most recent work is the Sound Prism (2016), a solar powered sonic performance and installation that explores sound as a physical representation of the transmutation of organic energy.
She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.
Obehi Janice (associate producer) is an award-winning actress, writer and comedian. A graduate of Georgetown University, Obehi was named “Boston’s Best Actress” by The Improper Bostonian in 2014. Her comedic short, BLACK GIRL YOGA, won the Reel 13/AfroPunk Film Competition (WNET/New York Public Media). A leader in the millennial renaissance of socio-political arts and culture, Obehi works extensively on stage, screen and as a voice actress in video games, radio, and commercials. Recent stage credits include Love’s Labour’s Lost, We’re Gonna Die, An Octoroon, Mr g and her solo show FUFU & OREOS. As a comedian and storyteller, she has been featured on You’re the Expert, Story Collider and The Moth. Her potent writing has been featured in Kinfolks: a journal of Black expression. Obehi also works as a director and producer. A gifted public speaker, she enjoys sharing her thoughts on faith, identity, creativity and mental health. She has garnered esteem and recognition from Bustle, WBUR, DigBoston, For Harriet, and The Boston Globe. She is the TCG Fox Foundation Resident Actor at Company One Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts.