PROVIDENCE, RI (August 17, 2021) – The Haus of Glitter Dance Company presents The Historical Fantasy of Esek Hopkins – an original activist dance opera that reimagines the narrative of Esek Hopkins and rehearses the future for our community, the future of public space, and the future we will leave behind. The cast for this community workshop performance features The Haus of Glitter Dance Company + Performance Lab, April Brown, Becky Bass, Shey ‘Rí Acu’ Rivera Ríos, Anjel Newman (Medusah Black), Satta Jallah, Sidy Maiga & over 35+ local contributing artists. Produced by The Haus of Glitter Dance Company + Performance Lab, The Wilbury Theatre Group, PRONK! Fest, and PVDFest, with support from Partnership for Providence Parks, & The RI Foundation, the production runs September 9-17, outdoors, at the former home of Esek Hopkins.
Audience members may register for performances at www.thewilburygroup.org. For more information on The Haus of Glitter’s historic intervention and a full list of project partners, visit www.hausofglitter.org.
This production is the culmination of the City of Providence’s two-year PARKIST Artist Residency. Since Jan 1, 2020, The Haus of Glitter has been living in the former home of Esek Hopkins (1718-1802), widely known as the first commander-in-chief of the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War. During his term as commander-in-chief, Hopkins tortured British prisoners of war, disobeyed orders in order to profit off of the American Revolution. However, before the American Revolution, Esek Hopkins was hired by the Brown Brothers of Brown University to command the slave ship Sally to purchase kidnapped humans from the coast of Africa & bring them to America, land of the free, to be sold into slavery. Hopkins was not only corrupt and entitled, but he was complicit in RI merchants’ eventual control of between 60 and 90 percent of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
A “fabulation” created to imagine the missing stories from the legacy of Esek Hopkins’ disastrous slaving voyage on Sally, The Historical Fantasy of Esek Hopkins, imagines what would life would be like today if colonization or slavery never happened by telling the story of a single Black person lost on the voyage, imagining her story, family, emotions, and legacy.
Matt Garza, creative director for this project, hopes The Historical Fantasy of Esek Hopkins will lead to a community awakening; “Why is there a middle school named after Hopkins down the street? Why is there still a statue of Esek Hopkins in Providence? Why is his former house worth preserving when it could be transformed into a space that feels supportive of all humans? What does it mean for our Queer BIPOC Glitter Family to be living, creating, liberating, fighting, feeling, & healing here in his home? Our activist dance opera is a rehearsal for the future. We are not going to think our way out of racism. We are going to feel our way out of racism.”
“This dance opera we’ve created – a story of mermaids, revolution, and resilience – exposes how our BIPOC lineages intersect with Hopkins’ legacy of white supremacy. With this show, we are subverting the truth we inherited by imagining nameless, underrepresented & erased Queer/Femme/BIPOC lives as fully realized humans with bodies & stories & movement existing on what used to be his land.”
– The Haus of Glitter Co-Directors: Anthony Andrade, Assitan Coulibaly, Steven Choummalaithong, Matt Garza & Trent Lee
“As a theater company, we can only hope to elevate voices that have long been silenced,” said Josh Short, Artistic Director of Wilbury Theatre Group. “We are honored to be able to work with The Haus of Glitter on The Historical Fantasy of Esek Hopkins. This incredibly exciting production not only pushes the boundaries of theatre and storytelling, it challenges our understanding of our community’s history so we might work towards a better one.”
“After nearly two years of incredible research, prototyping, and artistic exploration made possible through the City’s first ever Parkist in Residence program, The Haus of Glitter has created something truly masterful” said Stephanie Fortunato, Director of Arts, Culture + Tourism. “Through this presenting partnership with PVDFest, Wilbury and PRONK! Fest, ‘Historical Fantasy’ celebrates the culmination of our incredible Parkist program while simultaneously infusing PVDFest magic into the Wanskuck neighborhood.”
The Lady J” Jess Brown, PRONK!’s Creative Director, Founder of The Clam Jam Brass Band, and originator of the lead role for a workshop performance of the activist dance opera at PRONK! 2020 said, “This is PRONK!’s second year with a 100% BIPOC leadership team and we are so grateful for the ways The Haus of Glitter has pushed PRONK! to evolve into a more intentional, BIPOC-centered artist-activism collective + season of programming. The Haus of Glitter’s activist dance opera is such a FIERCE + POWERFUL opener for PRONK!’s 14th season of brass, beats, and JUSTICE!”
The Historical Fantasy of Esek Hopkins is the first production of The Wilbury Theatre Group’s 2021-22 Season and a headliner of this year’s PRONK! Fest + PVDFest. For more information on other upcoming performances + community events, visit www.thewilburygroup.org + www.pvdfest.com + www.providencehonkfest.org.