The Community College of Rhode Island’s student-run theater group, the CCRI Players, is teaming with The Wilbury Theatre Group and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities to present a free outdoor screening of renowned poet Christopher Johnson’s powerful solo work Invoice for Emotional Labor, which was filmed at CCRI’s Bobby Hackett Theater before premiering online in April.

The free screening will be held at the WaterFire Theater Under the Stars in Providence from Thursday, May 20–Saturday, May 22 at 8 pm. Viewers must register in advance online. Outdoor seating will be available, though audience members are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or watch from the comfort of their vehicles. 

Christopher Johnson (credit: Oliver ‘Syde-Sho’ Arrias)

Each presentation will feature a brief introduction by Johnson, the lone playwright and performer of Invoice for Emotional Labor, a Wilbury Theatre Group’s Playwright-in-Residence, and internationally-known Poetry Slam champion.  

In Invoice for Emotional Labor, Johnson relives his personal experiences as an African American growing up in New Jersey and living in Providence, educating and inviting viewers into the process by challenging them to rethink preconceived notions on racial etiquette, unconscious bias, and cultural differences through his own unique lens. 

Johnson filmed In Invoice for Emotional Labor in 16 hours over the span of two days, calling it his most “powerful” piece to date. Invoice for Emotional Labor premiered April 8 to critical acclaim. Motif Magazine, a publication dedicated to arts and entertainment in Rhode Island, wrote: “Christopher’s poems are breaths in between each lesson and tale, and it is amazing to consider how Christopher, with great agility in both emotion and craft, pivots from each mode of delivery and each deep piece of content shared. … If audiences viewing Invoice for Emotional Labor were expecting to feel warm and fuzzy, to feel comfortable learning these lessons, they may have been disappointed. These lessons are a gift, though; one that can help white people to understand and empathize more with the history of race and the lived experience of anti-Black racism.”

The WaterFire Theater Under the Stars is the second-largest outdoor theater in Rhode Island and the first of its kind in Providence. Launched in collaboration with The Wilbury Group in the spirit of former Gov. Gina Raimondo’s “Take It Outside” initiative, the theater offers visitors a safe “drive-in” experience featuring experimental theatre, original works, films, concerts, dance, and visual presentations. Visitors can view all presentations from the warmth and safety of their vehicle. Audio is available by tuning into 102.9 FM and images are projected onto a 40-foot screen with state-of-the-art projection capacity.


Free Screening of Invoice for Emotional Labor at WaterFire – May 20-22

The Wilbury Theatre Group announced the screening with the following information.

The Wilbury Theatre Group & The Community College of Rhode Island with support from Rhode Island Council for the Humanities presents a free outdoor screening of Christopher Johnson’s powerful solo work Invoice for Emotional Labor, at the WaterFire Arts Center – May 20, 21 and 22. Troop PVD will be at each screening with beer and wine available for purchase. Admission is free, however audience members must register, in advance, at https://thewilburygroup.org/invoice.html

Each evening will feature a brief introduction to the piece and performance by playwright, performer and Wilbury Theatre Group’s Playwright-in-Residence, Christopher Johnson – an internationally-known Poetry Slam champion and former Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) playwright fellow.  Johnson will also be signing copies of his book Select Essays from the play: Invoice for Emotional Labor before and after each screening.

In Invoice for Emotional Labor, Johnson relives his personal experiences as an African American growing up in New Jersey and living in Providence, educating and inviting viewers into the process by challenging them to rethink preconceived notions on racial etiquette, unconscious bias, and cultural differences through his own unique lens.

Johnson recorded Invoice for Emotional Labor in 16 hours over the span of two days, comparing the process to that of an actor or actress “getting into character” for a specific role, the difference being his performance is based on reality, forcing Johnson to relive uncomfortable, traumatizing moments during the production.  This performance was filmed at the Bobby Hackett Theater at the Community College of Rhode Island in collaboration with The CCRI Players and CCRI Office of Student Life.

Johnson wrote Invoice for Emotional Labor more than a year ago as an “interactive piece” and performed it virtually for the first time in March of 2020 as a live workshop production for The Wilbury Group. Since then, notes Wilbury Group Artistic Director Josh Short, “the piece has evolved so much and recent events have informed the work in such a beautiful and powerful way.”

Since teaming with The Wilbury Group in 2017, Johnson has produced several original works, including Invisible UpSouth and New and Dangerous Ideas, and performed in Decameron, Providence, an outdoor series presented at Providence’s WaterFire Arts Center. Johnson is one of 17 resident artists at The Wilbury Group, which, since its inception in 2010, has provided a platform for many of the area’s groundbreaking artists to engage in both original works and reimagined classics.

This free showing of INVOICE FOR EMOTIONAL LABOR is made possible through major funding support from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Council seeds, supports, and strengthens public history, cultural heritage, civic education, and community engagement by and for all Rhode Islanders.

About Christopher Johnson

An internationally known Poetry Slam champion, Christopher is known for his constant evolving style that without complaint, combines the experience discord of his past, the wisdom of now and the hope of the future to give voice to a universal message of human spark that connects us all. Using the intricate combination of academia, hip hop, traditional storytelling, theater, and just plain old common sense, Christopher provides a soulful, uplifting experience guaranteed to move his audience through several states of equilibrium, challenging the listener to remain in an emotional stagnant state. He organizes spoken word events, gives workshops on writing, performing, and public speaking, as well as growth and empowerment for youth and adults through words. He has been an active community member of Brown University’s student spoken word/poetry organization Word! since 2006. In 2010, Christopher was commissioned by Providence’s Department of Art Culture and Tourism to write the poem Providence Divine to commemorate the city’s 375th birthday, and by Brown University in 2012 in celebration of the inauguration of the university’s 19th president.

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