The Virtual Breath Project Festival Features 24 8-Minute-and-46-Second World Premieres by Theater Artists of Color

Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park was one of 23 partner theaters across America who curated submissions for the virtual fall 2020 festival — taking place this weekend, Oct. 24 and Oct. 25

click to enlarge Gamal Abdel Chasten in "08:46" for The Breath Project - Photo: YouTube screengrab
Photo: YouTube screengrab
Gamal Abdel Chasten in "08:46" for The Breath Project

The Breath Project is a new theater initiative with the stated mission of selecting, curating and archiving "work from multidisciplinary theater artists of color who are responding to our current moment in history, and to build relationships between artists of color and producers of live theater."

Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park was one of 23 partner theaters across America who sought submissions to be included in a virtual fall 2020 festival — taking place this weekend, Oct. 24 and Oct. 25 — with a goal of creating a national archive of these works.

Each work included in the fest is 8 minutes and 46 seconds in length, the amount of time Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of unarmed, handcuffed Black citizen George Floyd before he died.

Two Cincinnati artists have works premiering in the fest: 

  • Candice Handy — “Black Quarantine Date”
  • Derek J. Snow — “The Ballad of the Dying Body or The Breath to Say”

In all, 24 works will get their world premiere this weekend. The fest is free, but anything donated will go to support the contributing artists and volunteers. 

RSVP for The Breath Project Virtual Festival here.

The Breath Project was co-founded by Gamal Abdel Chasten, a founding member of New York Based-collective Universes Theater Ensemble, who debuted americUS at the Playhouse in February; and Marieke Gaboury, a theatre specialist for the City of Palo Alto, California.

“We received many inspiring submissions from around the country to be housed in our archive, and a third of those will be featured at the virtual festival,” said Chasten in a release about the fest. “The range of works we received was vast and included more traditional theatrical presentations and those that challenged the idea of what is theater in this moment of isolation. It is my hope that when people visit our website, attend the virtual festival, or follow and support our vision, they will have their boundaries pushed and their ideas challenged, and that, in the process, we change the face of American theater.”

Piper N. Davis, the local Cincinnati-based curator, said of the project: “Theater has the incredible power to heal and bring people together. We believe the powerful pieces being presented by BIPOC artists as part of this virtual festival should be seen by everyone. We are excited that the work of some very talented Cincinnati-based artists, who have Playhouse connections, will be included.”

The 24 works, selected from 65 submissions, range from monologues to dance activism to puppetry: 

  • Mhir Agrawal / Gamal Chasten – “Say Hello Stewart”
  • Aldo Billingslea — “3 Story Walk Up”
  • Alumni Theater Company — “Perspectives”
  • Ananya Dance Theatre — “Just Breathe”
  • James Brunt — “Waiting for Death”
  • Giovanny Camarena — “Don’t Be Afraid”
  • The Char’Actors — “The Cycle”
  • Tyharra Cozier — “Breath”
  • El Colectivo de Dramaturgos de Puerto Rico – “inhala – exhala”
  • Henri Franklin — “Views of Color in 8:46”
  • Yetta Gottesman — “Oh, Maria”
  • Ilasiea Gray — “Acting While Black”
  • David Guster — “Nice to Meet You”
  • Candice Handy — “Black Quarantine Date”
  • Harvey — “Breonna’s Prayer”
  • Gabrielle Jackson — “The Ballad of Jacob Blake”
  • Angela G. King — “8:46”
  • Bruce Lemon, Jr. — “The Act of Ownership”
  • Anthony Sky Ng-Thow-Hing — “Transcending Isolation: Hope”
  • Josh Richardson — “Choosing Sides”
  • Derek J. Snow — “The Ballad of the Dying Body or The Breath to Say”
  • Jessica Gabrielle Thomas — “Glow | Eternal”
  • Bil Wright — “Pulse”
  • David Zayas / Gamal Chasten — “I Just Don’t Know”

For more information on The Breath Project, visit thebreathproject2020.com

Watch "08:46" below, written and performed by Chasten and directed by Gaboury.

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