World Premiere of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of Sower by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon

Press Release

The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD)’s co-commissioned piece – Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower will have its world premiere on Thursday, November 9 at 8pm at the Red Theater. The show will run through the weekend, until Saturday, November 11.

Based on the post-apocalyptic novel by the late Afro-futurist and science fiction author Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower is a mesmerizing, genre-defying work of political theater that harnesses three hundred years of Black music. Written and performed by Toshi Reagon and her mother Bernice Johnson Reagon, Parable explores and experiments with the form of an opera to tell the story of the spiritual awakening of young Lauren Olamina. The piece is set in a dystopian America wracked by the violence brought on by climate change that has driven society to the brink. 
The concert version of Parable opened the inaugural season of The Arts Center as a work in progress to wide acclaim and this November will see the piece fully developed and performed in its entirety at its world premiere. Parable brings together deep insights into gender and race with African-American spiritualism and climate activism to create a thought-provoking performance that reflects on the future of human civilization.

Toshi Reagon is an American musician of folk, blues, sacred, rock, and funk genres; and the founder of her band BIGLovely, which will perform at The Arts Center on November 2.

“In Parable of The Sower, Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon draw on their mutual histories of creating inspiring and thought-provoking American vernacular music to reinvent the work of pioneering Afrofuturist writer Octavia Butler,” explained Arts Center Executive Artistic Director Bill Bragin. “The novel, and the new opera, tell a remarkably prescient story about the impact of climate change on human relationships and societal violence, on the role of empathy, and planting seeds for a new future. It’s an enormous honor that Toshi has entrusted The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi as the site to premiere this major new work.” 

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.