The Breath Project, led by Artistic Director and Co-Founder, Gamal Abdel Chasten (founding member of the ensemble theater company UNIVERSES), in partnership with theater companies across the country, was formed to select, curate and archive 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 in their region. All submissions to the archive must be a recording of a live performance of original work, created by an artist of color, and must be 8 minutes and 46 seconds in length.
A theater piece entitled 08:46, written and performed by Chasten, is available to view on The Breath Project website, thebreathproject2020.com, and was the impetus behind creating the archive.
After George Flyod was murdered, Marieke (my future Breath Project co-founder), asked if I would consider writing a piece that was 8 minutes and 46 seconds long. My initial reaction was, ‘no!’ While sheltering in and witnessing daily injustice, I had already written my share of work on the topic, so the last thing I wanted to do was that! As an African American artist/activist I am always writing about or around the topic of racism and injustice…hell, I live with it every day. But, I realized that there is value in directly addressing this moment, and there is a vital need for creating a sort of time capsule to document this historical time we are surviving through. This time has also created an opportunity to actively address the systemic racism that has been ever present in American Theater. We can only accomplish this in partnership. – Gamal Abdel Chasten
The Breath Project is planned to roll-out in three phases:
Phase 1: Call for entries to the Breath Project Archive, and a 2020 presentation of selected works in a virtual festival. 100% of any funds raised in connection with the 2020 virtual festival will be given directly to the curating and presenting artists;
Phase 2: Works produced for live audiences, in association with Partner Theaters across the country (as social safety guidelines allow);
Phase 3: The Breath Project is utilized as a tool for activism and education, as an ongoing and living archive of this time in history.
The submission process for the archive is now open, and is currently open-ended, while submissions for the 2020 Virtual Festival (scheduled for Fall 2020) must be received by August 31, 2020.
It is moving and gratifying, to be working with theater companies across the country who want to create real change….when we contacted Artistic and Managing leaders of theaters across the country, many of them responded immediately, opening their hearts and their doors to this project. – Gamal Abdel Chasten
Theaters partnering with The Breath Project include Pillsbury House Theatre (Minneapolis, MN), located just blocks from where George Floyd was murdered, along with Alumni Theater Company (Pittsburg, PA), Cherry Lane Theatre (New York, NY), Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (Cincinnati, Ohio), City Theatre Company (Pittsburgh, PA), Cornerstone Theater Company (Los Angeles, CA), Curious Theatre Company (Denver, CO), Detroit Public Theatre (Detroit, MI), Dorset Theatre Festival (Dorset, VT), Face Off Theatre (Kalamazoo, MI), Marin Theatre Company (Mill Valley, CA), Rude Mechs (Austin, TX) , San Diego Repertory Theatre (San Diego, CA), Southern Rep Theatre (New Orleans, LA), Two River Theater (Red Bank, NJ), and Western Michigan Theatre Department (Kalamazoo, MI). Each partner theater will be represented by an artist of color in the process of selecting works for the 2020 Virtual Festival. Managing Artistic Director, Judge Luckey of Palo Alto Children’s Theatre in California will lead a national theater-for-young- audiences panel that will review and select works submitted by youth and teen artists.
For more information about The Breath Project, and to submit a work to the archive, please visit thebreathproject2020.com.