A FirstWorks commissioned project

Phantom Notes, a new work by Vatic Kuumba and Orlando Hernández originally scheduled for Wednesday, June 30, twilight-sunrise, has been postponed. Stay tuned to first-works.org for a new date, to be announced.

Gold, Silver, and Coin make a world of time.
Prayer is in the ear of the river.

Playwright, poet, performer, and activist Vatic Kuumba and tap dancer, theater-maker and writer Orlando Hernández mix movement, poetry, improvisation and rhythm, in a twilight-into-dawn invitational performance that is equal parts ritual and historical portal. Drawing from their various practices of tap dance, percussion, poetry, rap and theater, Hernández and Kuumba investigate the legacy of Rhode Island’s slave trade, unseen history, and phantom labor.

“Phantom notes is an expression of memorial. The work celebrates the unanswerable questions that all living creatures ask. Phantom notes is a portal to the suppressed regions of our imagination. Through our process we have surfaced our own internalized fears. Learning the limitations of our vastness through the capacity of our talent. We invite witnesses to participate in this expression if they are prepared to surface and recognize their connection to mortality.”

A dark image of feet in white sneakers on a board placed on the ground
A young man in a black vest and beard dancing with his eyes closedOrlando Hernández is a tap dancer, theater-maker, and writer based in Rhode Island. He has performed at On the Boards, SPACE Gallery, the Granoff Center at Brown University, Trinity Rep, Movement Research at the Judson Church, DANCE NOW at Joe’s Pub, Inside/Out at Jacob’s Pillow, and the Joyce Theater. He teaches widely at schools, studios, and non-profits, and he works as a teaching artist with Rhode Island Latino Arts. He was the 2019 recipient of the Fellowship in Choreography from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, a 2019 recipient of the Rebecca Blunk Fund Award from the New England Foundation for the Arts, and a 2020 recipient of a Community Development Grant from the Brown Arts Initiative.
A Black man wearing white stands on a yellow box in a spotlight on a dark stageVatic Kuumba is a playwright, poet, performer, and activist based in Rhode Island. His work has been presented at the Wilbury Theatre Group, the Pell Chafee Performance Center, Mixed Magic Theater, the AS220 Black Box, Rites and Reason Theater at Brown University, Trinity Repertory Company, and the Kelly Strayhorn Theatre and Glitter Box Theatre (Pittsburgh, PA). He works as a teaching artist with the Children and Youth Cabinet (CYC) RI; as a Project Team Member with the Racial and Environmental Justice Committee; as Theatre Coordinator with AS220 Youth; and as an Art Facilitator with the Sowing Place Initiative. He was the National Assembly of State Agencies (NASAA) Artist-in-Residence in September 2019, and he was the recipient of the 2018 New Genre Merit Fellowship and the 2017 Playwright Merit Fellowship from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.
FirstWorks Local Artist Commissions
The commissioning of works is FirstWorks’ latest initiative to support Rhode Island’s arts community, and speaks to the organization’s commitment to local artists as essential partners and to supporting “firsts” in the arts. Offering platforms for local artists to create and present their work is a part of FirstWorks’ “Raise Your Voice” programming, a thematic initiative that amplifies diverse voices and celebrates difference through the arts.

This project is supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts through the New England Arts Resilience Fund, part of the United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund, an initiative of the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with major funding from the federal CARES Act from the National Endowment for the Arts. This project is also supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit http://www.arts.gov.

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