REFUGE // SINGING IN THE DARK
If your curiosity has led you here, then we’re sure your presence is essential in what we’re making.
Who are you?
We’re a group of interdisciplinary artists brought together in the theater department by Associate Professor Charlotte Brathwaite, Justin Hicks, June Cross, Sunder Ganglani, Janani Balasubramanian, and Ak Jansen. We’re experimenting with creative ways of being together in transformative, radical ways filled with quiet and deep joy. Our investigation has begun with singing together in the dark.
I don’t really sing.
As a group, we don’t have expertise in singing either - but we’re committed to collective vocal practice as a way of calming the spirit and imagening the future. Singing with people is widely known to be an effective way to treat PTSD and instigate different kinds of healing. We are not invested in sounding a particular way, we are invested in being together as sounding bodies and listening bodies. Speaking is also singing in the vocal assembly - so chances are, you do sing.
Why are you doing it in the dark?
Because we’ve found that lifting our voices in shifting darkness with other people unburdens our eyes and opens our ears, which is a great relief. We can hear each other with more clarity, improvise with more rigor, and practice listening as an art form.
What are you singing?
We asked members of the Boston Ujima Project to offer us texts they hold sacred in their community. They’ve shared hundreds of pages on liberation, freedom, assembly, community, and creativity. We’re singing sections of these texts which constitute a kind of tool kit on how to change the world and do our part, lovingly, to bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice.
When can I come sing with you?
Monday - Thursday, 7-9PM in MIT building W97, Now thru Friday, November 5th
Is this process leading towards something specific?
Yes. We’re going to build a tent inside the theater in W97 that we will inhabit. We’ve been asking questions about monuments and monumentality, and wondering how we can honor great work in the present tense instead of glorifying the conquests of the past like monuments do. Tents are the opposite of monuments, they provide temporary refuge for the living, and create a home that can travel, appear, and disappear. Our tent is inspired by the liberatory, and justice practices that govern the daily life of the Ujima Project’s members.
Can I bring my musical instrument?
Yes, if you play a musical instrument you're welcome to explore improvisatory practice along with us with whatever you play. A person’s willingness and ability to improvise is a measure of one's well-being - in this sense the Vocal Assembly offers a space to rehearse being well. Improvisation is about taking creative risks, failing, and recovering over and over again until recovery becomes second nature, but we digress.
This sounds strange, intense, and beautiful.
Thank you. We’ll hear you soon, we hope.
For more information or questions: stop by W97 or contact Charlotte Brathwaite at email@example.com.
This project is created with support from MIT Center for Art, Science and Technology [CAST]. Brought to you by MIT Theater Arts department.