Commissioned and Produced by White Snake Projects
Cerise Lim Jacobs, Creator and Librettist
White Snake Projects’ 2021-2022 programming is supported in part by grants from the Amphion Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
This project is made possible by a Live Arts Boston grant from the Boston Foundation.
Key Art is titled "Prison Fish" by artist Carole Alden
Photo by Sarah Rogers
Prison Fish grew out of my frustration with the system that keeps inconvenient women down in Utah.
After experiencing abuse in my first marriage, I vowed to never put up with it again. Decades later I found myself enmeshed with an individual who had obscured a violent, criminal past. My attempts to seek aid through law enforcement were met with cavalier derision. This attitude emboldened him further. After six months of physical and emotional torture, which included being forced to watch while he burned pets alive, he cornered me and I shot him.
Women, myself included, have been imprisoned by the male gaze; a gaze that has created stories that we are weak, emotional, childlike, born-victims, submissive, hysterical, witches, manipulative, angelic or whorish. You know the myths, you live these myths — myths that become self-fulfilling prophecies.
This has to stop.
***** CONTENT NOTE: this piece contains depictions of sexual violence and domestic violence, and it also focuses on trauma. Please know that support is available at barcc.org/chat, and please practice any form of self-care that keeps you safe.
But the darkness is not just about the virus. It’s also about the fissures in American society that have turned into gaping chasms as the pandemic forced longstanding economic disparities, racism, and violence against women (and some men) into crises. I’ve fought the isolation of pandemic times by working to shine a light on these issues through opera. That’s the only way I can remain grounded. Inspiration
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