White Snake Projects (WSP) is an activist opera company making mission-driven work that unites artmaking with civic practice. We envision a world where the power of opera expands our collective understanding of community and transforms lives through creative storytelling. Our most recent efforts have been devoted to the live digital productions of the Pandemic Trilogy: Alice in the Pandemic addressed the disproportionate strain of COVID-19 on communities of color and essential workers; Death by Life explored long-term incarceration and institutionalized racism; and the upcoming A Survivor’s Odyssey deals with the ongoing crisis of sexual and intimate partner violence. A critical element in our exploration of these themes is the establishment of authentic connections with thought leaders in social justice to ensure that our work lives in an ecosystem of activism. We see opera not just as performance, but as performance with purpose, a vibrant and vital art form that is also a champion of change. Read our statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
We’re committed to producing original opera that explores current issues relevant to our times. Our inaugural production, on the theme of multiculturalism, was Ouroborous Trilogy: Naga, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Madame White Snake, and Gilgamesh. In subsequent seasons we premiered REV. 23, concerning religious pluralism; PermaDeath, concerning inclusion, disability, and representation; I Am A Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams, addressing the subject of immigration and the plight of Dreamers; and the digital opera Alice in the Pandemic, a technologically groundbreaking exploration of the effects of COVID-19 on front-line workers and BIPOC. The digital opera Death By Life, which explores systemic racism and long-term incarceration, premieres in May 2021. Plans for the post-pandemic return of live theater include the colonization opera Cosmic Cowboy and MONKEY: A Kung Fu Puppet Parable, which explores faith and transformation in a multicultural setting. They are slated for 2022 and 2023 respectively, along with new digital offerings.
Our shows are also getting second lives. Madame White Snake has toured to Beijing, Taiwan and Hong Kong; and a new production of REV. 23 premiered at the Prototype Festival in New York in 2020.
We’re committed to transmedia work, which tells stories across multiple platforms and formats using 21st-century digital technologies, including the use of the game engine Unreal to create immersive 3D sets and avatars, and the development of an audio plugin that enables live synchronous performance from remote locations. We’ve tapped the expertise of area colleges to make opera with us, engaging young adults in the creative process. Our partners are Rhode Island School of Design (concept art and design), Lesley Art + Design (art, fabrication, and animation) and Becker College (virtual/augmented reality, real-time motion capture, 3D modeling, and animation). Our operas are programmed into the schools’ curricula and our designers guide students to produce assets for our shows. The thrill of seeing their work onstage invests students in this art form.
Sing Out Strong (SOS) is an ongoing song-commissioning and recital project that pairs emerging composers with everyday writers – such as cooks, students, engineers and doctors – to create songs based on themes that flow from our operas. SOS is a groundbreaking initiative as it’s integrated (in non-pandemic years) with the opera that inspired it: the program tours in Boston’s diverse neighborhoods before being performed as a thematically related curtain-raiser to the mainstage production. In 2019, SOS’s inaugural year, Sing Out Strong: Immigrant Voices focused on immigration, the theme of I Am A Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we moved the scheduled world premiere of Sing Out Strong: DeColonized Voices online in May 2020, simultaneously streaming it live on Zoom and Facebook. The third SOS installment, Sing Out Strong: Essential Voices, premiered online in December 2020.
Our Ticket Access Program (TAP) gives away one-third of all our seats to underserved communities, diversifying our audience across all demographics – age, income, ethnicity, and race.
White Snake Projects is an Opera America Professional Company Member.
White Snake Projects is supported by a grant from the National Foundation for the Arts CARES Act Fund