Aleshea Harris’ What to Send Up When It Goes Down begins June 20 at BAM’s Fishman Space in Brooklyn. The limited run moved indoors from a planned outdoor production at Brooklyn Botanical Garden after health and safety officials loosened COVID-19 restrictions for theatres.
Starring in the work are Alana Raquel Bowers, Rachel Christopher, Ugo Chukwu, Kalyne Coleman, Denise Manning, Javon Q. Minter, and Beau Thom. Directed by Whitney White, the production features scenic design by Yu-Hsuan Chen, costume design by Qween Jean, lighting design by Cha See, sound design by Sinan Refik Zafar, and original songs by Harris.
The staging is in collaboration with Playwrights Horizons, in association with The Movement Theatre Company. The former will stage the work in the fall after having originally planned to present the play at its Off-Broadway home before the COVID-19 shutdown.
Among the safety measures BAM has implemented for the run are a safety questionnaire and contactless temperature checks upon entry, masks appropriately worn at all times regardless of vaccine status, contactless ticket scanning, increased disinfection practices, and reduced capacity.
What to Send Up When It Goes Down is a play-pageant-ritual-homegoing celebration in response to the physical and spiritual deaths of Black Americans as a result of racial violence. Weaving facilitated conversation, parody, song, and movement in a series of vignettes, the show creates a space for catharsis, reflection, cleansing, and healing.
First seen in an extended Off-Broadway run at A.R.T./New York Theatres in fall 2018, the work has gone on to tour regionally at the Woolly Mammoth in D.C. and American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The show was last seen at The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival in 2020. Earlier this year, playwright Harris was named the recipient of the 2021 Hermitage Greenfield Prize.