by Kendall, age 16
There aren’t many people who can convince me to put aside my studying during finals week. But when I received an invitation to Cerise’s celebration of White Snake Projects’ three years of art + activism for that very same week, I didn’t question my attendance for a moment. I knew that whatever the evening would hold, it would be a fantastic one. My suspicions were proven correct.
As my parents and I arrived at Cerise’s beautiful Brookline abode, I was again struck by the number of people that had come out to support White Snake Projects. Although I don’t have an exact event tally, I would estimate around 150 people had shown up, making time out of their undoubtedly busy schedule to hear about the upcoming opera, I Am A Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams. After cocktails to start the evening, we were instructed to file through the buffet for dinner. Our dinner, a delicious curry and rice dish with a salad, was hand-prepared by none other than Cerise herself. To me, this choice to cook her own meals for the party exemplifies Cerise’s drive and vivacity. Where most would opt to cater an event like this one, she personalizes the dinner in not only the most engaging, but also the tastiest way possible.
White Snake Projects’ commitment to the local community was the focus of the dinner, in ways both intentional and unintentional. After the dinner was over, all attendees congregated to hear Cerise present on behalf of White Snake Projects. She explained the premise behind I Am A Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams, their latest opera about DACA and immigration. We heard a few stunning arias, a sneak peek of fantastic theater to come in the fall, before our attention was directed towards the philanthropic aspect of White Snake Projects. In accordance with themes of immigration, the company went into Boston and the surrounding communities to try and make a difference in the lives of immigrants and families of immigrants. We heard poems from high schoolers and established writers, revealing stories that were at times funny and at times sad. One of the most memorable moments was when Cerise’s housekeeper and her mother shared a bit of their own story as they attempted to bring her mother to America and reunite mother and daughter. Poignant moments such as these underscore a deeper commitment to activism than just bringing awareness. White Snake Projects uses opera to catalyze change, drawing attention to an issue before tackling it tenaciously. It’s a model that emphasizes activism and community.