Audience members inspired by the Afrofuturistic opera Parable of the Sower at Strathmore can learn about community organizations, local activists and independent retailers at a marketplace before and after shows on Friday and Saturday.
Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, by daughter and mother Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon, imagines a not-too-distant future where the environment has been devastated and society has crumbled. People struggle with slavery, drugs and crime and are dependent on community.
The marketplace, which Strathmore is calling Parable Village according to a press release, will feature more than a dozen vendors including Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL), Sankofa Video Books & Café, Smile Herb, Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-op, Food Justice DMV and Potomac Riverkeeper Network.
According to Tyler Chadwell-English, teen service program manager for MPCL, they will share information about library programs, resources the library offers, and sign people up for library cards.
“Our intention is to go out and make our presence known in that particular community,” Chadwell-English said. “Montgomery County Public Library seeks to be an essential component of a just and equitable community where we can all grow and thrive. This is a part of our core values, which are discovery, intellectual freedom, equity, respect, service and community. This really falls under the auspices of community which is the backbone of who we serve.”
Although this is Strathmore’s first community-driven marketplace, it’s not the first extension of the production. Last year, the production was accompanied by an Arts & Social Justice program, which is still ongoing, according to PJ Feinstein, spokesperson for Strathmore.
“Several times a year, during our season, we have a few programs where we go deeper into sort of the theme around them and opportunities for patrons or community members to learn more about the artist or the art form or the messages behind it,” Feinstein said.
Participants of the Art & Social Justice Fellowship develop leadership skills, connect with networks of other students and professionals with similar interests, and grow their capacity to drive projects from start to finish, according to the Strathmore website.
Parable of the Sower sold out its two performances in April 2022 when it premiered on the Music Center stage, according to the release. The production is returning with twice as many performances and more free tickets. The production runs from Wednesday to Saturday before heading to the Lincoln Center in New York City.
This year’s performances are not yet sold out and can be purchased through the Strathmore’s website.
Thursday night’s production will include a pre-show lecture by poet Alexis Pauline Gumbs.