Hip-Hop Oratorio
choral/hip-hop theater forum for local participants

(Be)longing is a choral/hip-hop oratorio prompted by the April 16th Tragedy at Virginia Tech, where a Korean-American student shot 49 people, killing 32, then himself. College students, faculty, staff, and local leaders form the backbone of this performance where mental health, music, neuroscience, sociology, and theatre intersect. Developmental residencies culminate in performances and events leading up to the 10-year memorial in 2017.

March 17-18, 2017
Moss Arts Center · Virginia Tech, Blacksburg

April 21, 2017
MDC Live Arts · Miami Dade College

June 17-18, 2017
International Festival of Arts & Ideas · New Haven

April 2018
Excerpts performed at Deeper Change Forum

Radio Interview

Program Notes
School shootings are a challenging subject. Debates ping pong around gun control, the second amendment and civil liberties. Trigger broadens themes surrounding shootings in America by incorporating the perspectives of people who work and study in university settings with a responsive theatrical choral project. Voices both murmur and soar in a project about belonging and isolation. With listening and empathy as core experiences of this musical work, (Be)longing strives to encourage, rather than silence, numerous voices.

This staged choral work serves as a touchstone for Activate (Be)longing: thematically-related artistic, scholarly, technology, and other resources developed by local groups. Individuals and organizations are invited to think about forgiveness and justice, freedom and safety, as well as other themes related to education, guns, race, and other topics sparked by (Be)longing. Individuals from campus clubs, civic organizations and audience members converse through the creation of art as strategies to prevent school shootings.

Activate (Be)longing brings audiences, experts and performers together in artistic spaces of imagination and impact as active negotiators in topics that have divided Americans, such as
second amendment rights and mental health profiling. Both the core performance of Trigger and related events in Activate (Be)longing serve to broaden and deepen themes to build communities to end violence.

(Be)longing, initially titled Trigger, is the second work in a trilogy of music theatre works about what Americans fear, by composer Byron Au Yong and librettist Aaron Jafferis. The first is Stuck Elevator.

Creative Team
Byron Au Yong, composer
Aaron Jafferis, writer

2018 Version in development
Lisa Peterson, director

2017 Version
Charlotte Brathwaite, director
Ni'Ja Whitson, choreographer
Ben Zamora, design

(Be)longing is scored for singers, rappers and beat boxers who play stones. With an auditioned cast chosen from the local community, the creative team guides participating musicians to collaborate on a performance specific to the host venue. Additional instrumentation can be arranged according to the talents of the cast.

Virginia Tech Trailer

2014 Research & Writing Residencies
2015 Community Development Residencies
2016 Production Residencies
2017-2018 Performances & Touring
Thomas O. Kriegsmann, producer
+1 (917) 386-5468
tommy (at) arktype.org

2017-2018 Yerba Buena Center for the Arts residency
2014-2017 Virginia Tech Center for the Arts research and writing residencies
2014-2017 International Festival of Arts & Ideas research & writing residencies
2016-2017 Montalvo Arts Center Lucas Artists Residency
2016 Westminster Choir College writing and teaching residency
2015 Weston Playhouse writing retreat
2014 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab at MASS MoCA writing residency

(BE)LONGING is a ArKtype project, commissioned and co-produced by Moss Arts Center, Blacksburg, VA and the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, New Haven, CT.
(Be)longing is a commission of the Moss Arts Center and developed in partnership with International Festival of Arts & Ideas, New Haven, Connecticut. Residency development provided by The Flea Theater, New York City; Westminster Choir College; Theatreworks; Montalvo Arts Center; Millay Artist Colony; and Weston Playhouse.

Special thanks to all the community members, performers, presenters, and supporters from developmental workshop residencies and performances including but not limited to Liz Fisher, Chad Herzog, Missy Huber, Doug Harry and the amazing staff of Arts & Ideas, Kathryn Garcia, Jennifer Person, Eddy  Davis and the MDC Live Arts team, Ruth Waalkes, Jon Catherwood-Ginn, Sara Bailey and the Moss Arts  Center Team, Stephanie Bleyer, Laura Chen-Schultz, Ed Iskandar, Robbie Harris, Eric Hung, Will MacAdams, Erika Meitner, Ali Neff, Janice Paran, Karen Shimakawa, Jack Tchen, Eric Ting, Niegel Smith, Mary Lou Aleskie, Shanta Thake, David Dower, Emily Theys, Sara Juli and Surala Consulting, Holly and John Lesko, Naphtali Fields, Scott Bailey, Bob Leonard, Jim Hawdon, Andy Morikawa, Tricia Smith, Debbie Day, Ellie Sturgis, Chris Flynn, Miles Le, Alan Davis; Joe, Mona, and Randa Samaha; Tom Brown, Nikki Giovanni, Jake Grohs, Conversation NRV, Community Voices, Maj. Gene Deisinger, Leighton Vila, Expressions, Students for Non-Violence, Erika Meitner, Ali Neff, Shannon M. Turner, Patty Raun, Chief Anthony Wilson, Melissa Ripepi, Francine Dulong, Tracy Vosburgh, Susanna Rinehart, Larry Hincker, Kwame Harrison, Jenie Nguyen, Craig Arthur, Caroline Davis, David Salmo, Nancy Alexander, Jason Hiruo, Liz Hammond, Rafael Ramos, Kristin Kelly, Thomas Murray, Cathy Edwards, Quita Sullivan, Craig Peterson, Baba Israel, and David Kim

Follow (Be)longing activity at future sites across the U.S., learn about our local and national initiatives, action steps, and more at triggerbelonging.org