The Apollo Theater to Premiere Multidisciplinary Projects Across The Apollo Stages at The Apollo and Victoria Theaters with Curtain to Rise in Winter, 2023




(Rendering of the future Historic Theater lobby photo. Credit: Charcoalblue, Beyer Blinder Belle, and Flyleaf Creative)

The Apollo announced today its 2023 cohort of artists for its Apollo New Works initiative, an initiative which champions artistic development and allows artists across disciplines to incubate and present new works across The Apollo’s stages—its Historic Theater, Soundstage, and The Apollo’s Victoria Theater, which will open this winter. The series of commissions will feature world premiere performances, festivals, and programs rooted in music, dance, theater, poetry, and more, by an award-winning group of artists including: vertical dance company Bandaloop with composer/violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain, composer Billy Childs, playwright Francisca Da Silveira, actor Kevin R. Free, multimedia artist Ebony Noelle Golden, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, photographer Alex Harsley and the E. 4th Street Photo Gallery, choreographer Aku Kadogo and poet jessica Care moore, sculptor Jonathan Payne, American blues and soul singer Martha Redbone,musical duo Soul Science Lab (Chen Lo and Asante Amin), playwright Talvin Wilkes, and playwright Nathan Yungerberg, and The Apollo’s current Master Artist in Residence Kamasi Washington.

Illustration via Apollo Theater.

“Apollo New Works expands our commitment to supporting creative innovation by emerging and established artists whose work challenges, reflects, and is in dialogue with the most pressing issues within our communities,” said Kamilah Forbes, Apollo Theater Executive Producer. “We thank the Ford Foundation and The Mellon Foundation for their incredible support of our Apollo New Works and Master Artist-In-Residence initiatives. I’m excited that these initiatives will be some of the first works at The Apollo’s Victoria Theater, a space where The Apollo will engage, create, experiment, and incubate new work.”

The opening of The Apollo’s Victoria Theater will draw upon the organization’s longstanding role as an anchor inn the Harlem community and enable the organization to increase the number of performances and community and educational programs it offers. The new performance spaces will be integral to Apollo New Works and provide additional resources and space for The Apollo to incubate and develop these commissions. Seculed to open for performances this winter as part of The Victoria Theater Redevelopment Project (a public and private partnership), The Apollo’s Victoria Theater is a 25,000-square-foot facility, featuring two black box theaters designed by Kostow Greenwood Architects, and community programs that build on the cultural heritage of Harlem and celebrate uptown’s enormous well of creativity. It will also provide access to professional quality theater space for local artists, artist collectives, and small and mid-size Harlem and NYC-based arts organizations for the development and presentation of new work. Additional details about inaugural programming in The Apollo’s Victoria Theater will be announced at a later date.

Apollo New Works is generously supported by the Ford Foundation with additional funding from The Mellon Foundation and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Construction board is down, showing the entrance to the renovated Victoria Theatre. This image taken on November 17, 2022.


Bandaloop with composer/violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain
Redemption Too, At Least Some
The Apollo’s Victoria Theater

Redemption Too, At Least Some is a collaboration between vertical dance company, BANDALOOP, and composer/violist Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR). This collaboration explores the themes of home, urban belonging, race, and privilege, charging performers and audiences to see their community in a new light. Drawing from Black and Haitian culture and musical influences, DBR’s contemporary classical voice will merge with BANDALOOP’s perspective-shifting choreography to create impactful public art that physically and creatively elevates predominantly BIPOC artists, while affording a dynamic platform from which place-based stories can be told.

Billy Childs
Kindred, An Operative Adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Kindred
The Apollo’s Victoria Theater

Grammy Award-winning composer, jazz pianist, arranger, and conductor Billy Childs will adapt Octavia Butler’s Kindred into an opera. In Butler’s bestselling novel, protagonist Dana time travels back and forth between 1970s Los Angeles and the pre-Civil War South, where she meets her ancestors. Each visit to the past becomes progressively longer, and her relationships with her family and their enslavers become more complicated. During these visits Dana tries to help her people in antebellum slavery, while still ensuring her safe return to her own time. The musical score will be rooted in the historical traditions of opera, while at the same time be representative of Black American music.

Francisca Da Silveira
barefoot in mindelo
The Apollo’s Victoria Theater 

barefoot in mindelo, a play with music about the life and music of Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Évora who is described as “the voice that lifted Cape Verde’s little-known blues, morna, beyond the island and into the international world of music.” Évora sang in Kriolu, which draws from West African dialects and Portuguese—the language of Cape Verde’s former colonizer. Évora had a gift for elevating morna ballads, a style of song whose lyrics address poverty, longing, and most deeply, partings of both the physical and emotional kind. Her melodic voice conjured the beauty and struggle, melancholy and yearning of life in Cape Verde.

Kevin R. Free
A Hill on Which to Drown: a one man show with Andre De Shields
The Apollo’s Victoria Theater 

The theatrical work A Hill on Which to Drown is a geriatric coming-of-age story on the importance of legacy and inheritance told from the perspective of a 94-year-old queer Black man. He recounts his life story backwards, decade by decade. As he tells the story, he grows younger and younger, discovering—as he speaks—exactly what inheritance he’s leaving behind. The play can be seen as a complement or companion piece to the August Wilson American Century Cycle, continuing to bear witness to the events in Pittsburgh’s Hill District throughout the 20th Century. The main character’s story stands on its own, as each of Wilson’s plays do, but adds a dimension to the Century Cycle, focusing on rebirth, renewal, legacy, inheritance, and maintaining the visibility of the LGBTQ community on the backdrop of the African American life in the 20th century. A Hill on Which to Drown is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Ebony Noelle Golden
In The Name of The Mother Tree

Co-produced by National Black Theatre
The Apollo’s Victoria Theater
A performance work for flexible spaces, farms, gardens, and waterbodies, In The Name of The Mother Tree is a theatrical ceremony that combines music, dance, and poetry to tell the story of a community in the process of reclaiming earth-fortifying rituals after a major climate rupture.  The work was originally developed as an Open Call project with The Shed, then commissioned by The Apollo. In The Name of The Mother Tree is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Stefon Harris
The Apollo’s Victoria Theater

Award winning jazz vibraphonist, thought leader, and developer Stefon Harris, will create an app that gives software the ability to improvise unpredictable harmony in tandem with artist-created melody and rhythm, resulting in a unique collaboration between software and human. Harris will build an evening-length work exploring the collaboration between live performance and technology.

Alex Harsley and The 4th Street Photo Gallery
The Apollo’s Victoria Theater

From The Victoria to The Village: A Visual History of Black Creative Spaces in NYC will offer a visual history of Black creative spaces in NYC starting with E. 4th Street Photo Gallery’s Alex Harsley’s rare colored photographs of The Jewel Box Review at The Apollo in the 1950s, then moving downtown, and everywhere in between. The exhibition will showcase Black art collectives, individual artists at work in their studios, and the camaraderie of Black artists. Dawoud Bey, Harsley’s mentee who began his career in Alex’s The 4th Street Photo Gallery, is an advisor on this project.

Aku Kadogo and jessica Care moore
Salt City: A Techno Choreopoem
The Apollo’s Historic Theater 

Salt City: A Techno Choreopoem is a collaborative work between acclaimed poet and writer jessica Care moore and award-winning director and choreographer, Aku Kadogo, along with a myriad of Detroit techno music legends. The script, written in poetic form, is centered around Detroit in the year 3071 and tells the story of a brown girl named “SALT” who time travels to the future but can’t find her tribe.

Jonathan Payne
LINTON: A History Play
The Apollo’s Victoria Theater 

Following the main protagonist, Jeffrey, and spanning the Great Depression of the 1930s and Reconstruction after the Civil War to contemporary New York during the Great Recession, LINTON, tells an epic story of Black American life, ambition, and tragedy. Inspired by Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and the Slave Narratives gathered by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930’s, the play will explore the haunting toll of the past and how historical fact is often crafted not by truth but an agenda.

Martha Redbone
Guardian Spirit- ode to bell hooks
The Apollo’s Victoria Theater 

Singer/songwriter/composer Martha Redbone draws from her Appalachian culture and heritage to create music and songs inspired by the poems prose and essays of writer and activist bell hooks.

Soul Science Lab
The Renaissance Mixtape
The Apollo’s Victoria Theater

The Renaissance Mixtape is a mixed reality musical work that celebrates Harlem Renaissance and its contemporary impact, while envisioning Black culture, history, and art 100 years into the future. With a group of performers, lead artists Chen Lo and Asante Amin are Black artists who use music, verse, and extended reality to reflect on compelling aspects of the Harlem Renaissance that parallel their current experience, while speculating on the Renaissance to come. Like any mixtape, The Renaissance Mixtape is a quantum mashup of time, ideologies, and Black art. The Renaissance Mixtape is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Kamasi Washington
Master Artist-in-Residence
The Apollo’s Victoria Theater

The Apollo’s 2023 Master Artist-in-Residence Kamasi Washington will create a composition for a yet-to-be named ballet in collaboration with dancer/choreographer Lula Washington, Vision Theatre, and WACO Theater Center in Los Angeles. The Master Artist Residency Program is generously supported by The Mellon Foundation.

Talvin Wilks
The Apollo’s Victoria Theater

Conceived and directed by Talvin Wilks, Snakehips In Our DNA: Prequel Affirmation #1 (Renaissance to Permanence) is a choreographic video exploration in homage to tradition and lineage. Following the dancer Lil Buck’s mantra, “The DNA of Snakehips is embedded in contemporary street dance,” and utilizing stock footage, animation, collage and commissioned dance video, Director/Dramaturg Talvin Wilks will develop a 15-minute, looping visual and audio experience through video installation and meditation that will celebrate the Harlem Renaissance and its relevance today.

Nathan Yungerberg
The Apollo’s Victoria Theater 

THEA is a theatrical experience with music that celebrates the life of Sr. Thea Bowman. Thea, the granddaughter of enslaved Africans, was the only African American member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, and she transcended racism to leave a lasting mark on U.S. Catholic life in the late 20th century. In November 2018, U.S. Bishops endorsed the canonization of Sr. Thea Bowman who will be the only Black female canonized as a saint.

Image via apollo

Apollo New Works is generously supported by the Ford Foundation with additional funding from The Mellon Foundation, The Sherman Fairchild Foundation, and Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

The Apollo’s 2022-2023 season is made possible by leadership support from Coca-Cola, Citi, Sherman Fairchild Foundation, Ford Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, the Jerome L. Greene Foundation Fund in The New York Community Trust, and The Mellon Foundation.  

Public support for the Apollo Theater is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York City Council.

The Apollo Theater is located at 253 West 125th Street. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

The Victoria Theater is located at 233 West 125th Street.