The Royal Opera House has announced Insurrection: A work in progress – a collection of semi-staged sharings within the Linbury Theatre, based on a brand new work presently in development that explores how we come together to know the legacy of enslavement. The occasions will run from Tuesday 21 – Saturday 25 March 2023 which is International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Over 200 years on from the Barbados Rebellion (16 April 1816) – an rebellion organised by enslaved men and women who labored on the island’s many estates and plantations – baritone, artist and broadcaster Peter Brathwaite is growing Insurrection – investigating his own ancestors, who have been enslaved workers and enslavers on sugar plantations in Barbados. Insurrection charts the story of rebellion and resistance in Barbados, and celebrates the human need to collect, move, make music, and inform tales, amid, and in response to, oppression.

Insurrection might be workshopped and rehearsed within the Linbury Theatre throughout March, culminating in a series of sharings introduced in the round to schools, community groups and the public. At these sharings, viewers members shall be requested to reflect on the work, focus on the tales advised and explore the music’s impression.

Taking its cue from the unconventional folk traditions of enslaved Black employees in Barbados, the work will feature a musical playlist of folks songs sung by enslaved staff and their descendants. This contains rebel music banned on plantations as a outcome of worry of hidden messages, British pro-slavery propaganda songs, abolitionist hymns, and 19th century opera enjoyed by enslavers.

Peter Brathwaite explains: ‘As somebody with Caribbean heritage, exploring these stories, songs and traditions has helped me to know the many methods enslaved individuals rebelled in opposition to slavery. Insurrection is impressed by the willpower of enslaved individuals to achieve their freedom. The songs they sang and the way in which they lived are vital examples of endurance for all these fighting for their rights.’

The work is a collaboration between baritone Peter Brathwaite, director Ellen McDougall, writer Emily Aboud, and music director Yshani Perinpanayagam who’s arranging the original materials. The staff might be joined by a soprano, and five musicians together with percussionist Rosie Bergonzi. The work is programmed by the Royal Opera and produced by Fay Jennett, with the assist of Cultural Consultant Dr Stefan Walcott.

Speaking of the venture, creative producers of the Linbury Theatre Kate Wyatt and Sarah Crabtree stated: ‘The Linbury Theatre performs a quantity one role in growing a new opera canon, and as we seek to innovate the shape and narrative of opera, the method we use to make work additionally needs to develop. As an organization it’s important we invest in our artists and enable the interrogation of ideas, by providing space to experiment as they develop themselves and their follow.’

The project will seek to capture the experiences, reflections and questions evoked for audiences via a set of post-sharing Q&As and comply with up workshops. By partnering with six London secondary schools and engaging audiences with Caribbean heritages these workshops will open a dialogue between audience members and the creative group, supporting all involved to discover the position music plays in making us who we are.

On Friday 24 March, Barbadian pianist, composer and tutorial Dr Stefan Walcott shall be in conversation with Linbury Creative Producer Sarah Crabtree in a special Insight within the Linbury Theatre.

Kate Wyatt and Sarah Crabtree add: ‘It’s thrilling to be sharing the event of Insurrection with audiences and welcoming them to take part within the dialogue which is in a position to form the future of the work. Peter is a long-time collaborator of the Linbury, it is a pleasure to bring him and this excellent collection of artists collectively on this way to explore such an important topic, here on the Royal Opera House.’

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