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World Premiere

COMMUNION: a ritual of nourishment and commemoration

Kenyon Adams

May 5–7, 2023

Add to Calendar2023-05-05 8:00 pm2023-05-05 8:00 pmEDTCOMMUNION: a ritual of nourishment and commemorationFisher Center, Sosnoff Stage Right,
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In what ways does a meal distinctly allow commemoration and also provide nourishment? And where are the joy-working and life-sustaining spaces of the future?

COMMUNION: a ritual of nourishment and commemoration is a participatory “blues Eucharist” inspired by Kenyon Adams’ early experiences in the Black Protestant churches of his childhood in the Southeast region of the United States. In collaboration with chef and artist Omar Tate (featured in the Netflix series High on the Hog), food and culture writer Osayi Endolyn (The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food: A Cookbook), and visual artist Ambrose Rhapsody Murray, Kenyon is creating an offering to the audience, with poems, prayers, movement, music, and food. The ritual applies the distinct paradox which imbues a Eucharistic meal: the partaking of which is simultaneously a commemoration of death as well as a claim of unity with that which cannot die or be diminished. COMMUNION seeks to construct new spaces and traditions of testimony and witness.

This work is part of the artist’s own reckoning with death in the pandemic and the ways it has disproportionately affected BIPOC communities, as well as the ongoing violence against black bodies within American society. COMMUNION is the second installment of a ritual trilogy, WATCHNIGHT: WE ARE ALMOST TO OUR DESTINATION. The first part, Prayers of the People, was presented by the Fisher Center in 2018 in collaboration with the Hannah Arendt Center.

The meeting place for COMMUNION will be the LUMA lobby. Will Call will be stationed there, and guests will be led to the performance space inside the theater.

Artists & Creative Team

Kenyon Adams Lead Artist | Cantor | Voice, Harp
JaQuan Beachem ’17 Cantor | Words
Osayi Endolyn Congregant | Text
Kayla Farrish Duende | Movement
Clarence Grant II Duende | Percussion
John Hall Duende | Bass
Craig Hartley Duende | Keys
James Moss Duende | Percussion, Voice
Ambrose Rhapsody Murray Congregant | Sculpture Design
Jonathan Rodgers Duende | Music Direction, Tuned Glass, Guitar
Omar Tate Congregant | Art, Text, Poetics, Meal
Danielle Wood Congregant | Voice

Ciko Sidzumo ’24 and Immanuel Williams ’24 Lead Ushers
Rebecca MeekGraphic Design Print Coordinator
Nick Hawrylko Lighting Design
Moe Schell Costume Design
Grace Locklin Production Stage Manager


Kenyon Adams (he/they) is a multi-disciplinary artist and artistic director. Through performance-based practices, he seeks to reclaim or expand embodied ways of knowing, toward imagining and constructing sustainable futures. His practice is concerned with notions of citizenship, locating pleasure and satisfaction within the scope of justice. For this work, the artist engages text, photography, music, and performance; as well as foodways, devised liturgies, and site-specific interventions. Kenyon’s ritual cycle, WATCHNIGHT: WE ARE ALMOST TO OUR DESTINATION, includes the performance work, PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE (directed by Bill T. Jones), which invites audiences to sit, kneel, and chant Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. The second work in the trilogy, entitled COMMUNION, a ritual of nourishment and commemoration, premieres at the Fisher Center in 2023. Kenyon is a Senior Fellow at the Hannah Arendt Center and an Artist in Residence at the University of Texas Austin (TX Performing Arts) where he is developing, COMPLINE, the final work in the WATCHNIGHT trilogy. Kenyon is the founding principal at FUTURE SOLITUDE, an art series and lifestyle brand that examines and speculates modes and sites of leisure. 

Kenyon has contributed art and thought leadership to Live Ideas (New York Live Arts), Yale School of Drama, the Langston Hughes Project, Louis Armstrong House Museum, YoungARTS, Grace Farms Arts, the National Arts Policy Roundtable (Americans for the Arts, Sundance Institute), and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. He studied Religion & Literature at Yale Divinity School and Theology of Contemporary Performance at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. Kenyon has performed nationally as a vocalist, songwriter, and blues harmonica player, making his feature film debut as Jason in Golden Globe Award-winning director Lee Isaac Chung’s narrative feature Lucky Life, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and Moscow International Film Festival. Kenyon served as Artist in Residence at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music for the 2015-16 academic year. His multi-media performance works have addressed issues of legibility, race, and American memory. He is currently serving as Director of Public Programs at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, TX.

JaQuan Beachem ‘17 cantor | words is a love-centered, joy-seeking, trauma-informed, and justice-oriented interdisciplinary artist, chaplain, and theologian. JaQuan believes that the arts have the agency to reclaim time and space to cultivate atmospheres of healing, reconciling, and community building. Currently, JaQuan serves as Andover Newton’s Director of Community Development & Spiritual Formation at Yale Divinity School. As Founder of wellness nonprofit KEI, Inc., JaQuan consults and curates sustainable spaces for belonging, embodiment, and (re)imagination at the individual, organizational and corporate levels. In their leisure, JaQuan enjoys jamming out to music, honing his yoga practice, trying out a new recipe, and noticing things bloom. 

Osayi Endolyn congregant | text is a writer, producer, and curator whose storytelling centers on food and culture. A changemaker and thought leader, she spearheads discourse ranging from editorial direction to the politics of dining. A James Beard Award winner, Osayi’s writing and commentary are featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Time, Eater, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, the Oxford American, Netflix’s Chef’s Table and Hulu’s The Next Thing You Eat. She is the writer of Ghetto Gastro Presents: Black Power Kitchen and with Marcus Samuelsson, The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food.

Kayla Farrish duende | movement is a Black American Director merging dance-theater, filmmaking, narrative, and sound score. She captures ranging identity, the mythical dualities of history and present survival, and powerful dreaming lending to liberation.  Her commissions include Gibney, Louis Armstrong House Museum, Danspace, Pepatian, Little Island, Harlem Stage, Blacklight Summit, and beyond. Some works formed: Black Bodies Sonata, The New Frontier: My dear America, Sunny Side/Inside the Laughing Barrel, December 8th, Martyr’s Fiction, and others. She creates live works, films, site-specific/immersive, and collaborations. She recently shared Choir (Carrie Mae Weems Exhibition), To Dream A Lifetime (BlackLight), Roster with Melanie Charles, MIXTAPES with Alex MacKinnon and site-specific Broken Record (Little Island) with Brandon Coleman, and Rinsing and Harbor films. Presenting spaces include Lincoln Center, Park Avenue Armory, Symphony Space, and National Sawdust, among receiving support from Watermill Center for the Arts, Armstrong Now, Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective, Baryshnikov Arts Center, La Mama Theater, and others. She received the Sundance Uprise Grant for Emerging BIPOC Directors, Bessie Awards for NYLA’s Motherboard Suite, and December 8th Gibney, NY Times Top 2021 Dance Performances: Roster and Breakout Star. She is a recipient of the Harkness Promise Award for 2022. In 2022, she was a Rehearsal Director for Punchdrunk Sleep No More and adjunct faculty for NYU Tisch Dance.

Clarence Grant II duende | percussion started playing drums in his church’s worship team at the age of six. As a self-taught drummer, he first learned to play by ear. At nineteen, he started playing professionally as a session and tour player. His drumming has been called “precise mayhem” with some “throttle and sway.” He performs in a variety of genres, including rock, jazz, gospel, hip-hop, and country. He lives in Pittsburgh.

John Hall duende | bass is currently Bassist and Music Director for N-Motion Entertainment and former Music Director for BLU Jazz in Akron OH and has graced the stage with many major artist such as Marion Meadows, James Lloyd, Elan Trotman, Kenny Blake, Chuck Loeb, Tom Browne, The Sax Pack, Eric Darius, Joey Sommerville, Art Sherrod Jr, Pieces of a Dream, Marcus Anderson, Bob Baldwin, Brian Simpson, Julian Vaughn, Phill Denny, JJ Sanseverio, Jeff Kashiwa, Nick Colionne, Jackiem Joyner, Althea Rene, Matt Marshak, Eddie Baccus, Marcus Johnson, Jeanette Harris, Nathan Mitchell, Steve Cole, Walter Beasley, Mike Phillips, Adam Hawley, Frank McComb, Alexander Zonjic, The Reb Beach Project, and the list continues to grow! Currently an Artist Endorser for Reunion Blues Bags, Bartolini Electronics, as well as Ernie Ball Bass Strings.

Craig Hartley duende | keys Music producer, composer, and performer Craig Hartley has studied and performed with jazz greats such as Jackie McLean, Eddie Henderson, and Anthony Braxton. Craig’s debut jazz recording was praised by Midwest Record as “one of the great debuts of all time.” His second album was featured on NPR and named to numerous top 10 jazz albums lists. He has led master classes and performances at Yale University, Tohoku University Japan, and Berklee. Craig has worked on projects with artists and companies including KAWS, John Baldessari, VOGUE, Visionaire, and Valentino. Craig has performed internationally at events such as Art Basel and the Veneto Jazz Festival.

James Moss duende | percussion, voice is a percussionist, instructor, and performer with over forty years of experience. He has performed and recorded with many notable artists such as Clark Terry, Stevie Wonder, Michael Brecker, Lori Lieberman, and Janice Dempsey. He currently performs with Fe Fi Fo, Mikata, and African Arawak Connection as well as his own ensemble Emanon, which has included artists such as Steve Clarke, Aly Ryerson, Peter DeMarko, and Kenyon Adams. He has been a regular guest on numerous radio and TV programs in the northeast as well as Hart School of Music, Yale, and UConn.

Ambrose Rhapsody Murray congregant | sculpture, design is a self-taught artist with roots in Florida and Asheville, NC. Through sewing, painting, material experimentation, film, and collaborative projects, they create stories to investigate our relationships to the colonial undercurrents of our lives, the charged symbology of black feminine bodies, and the ephemeral and layered qualities of memory and remembering. Ambrose received their Bachelor’s in Black Studies from Yale University and briefly studied art at Central Saint Martins in London. Their work lives in the permanent collection of The Studio Museum in Harlem and has exhibited across the US and abroad.

Jonathan Rodgers duende | music direction, tuned glass, guitar (Cindertalk) is an Oregon-based composer and multi-instrumentalist. Best known for his “stunning” (NY Times) work with tuned glass, Jonny orients his work around organic instruments coupled with electronic manipulation. Unconventional sounds permeate his writing, which is often described as surprising, wistful, intricate, and emotionally immersive.

Omar Tate congregant | art, text, poetics, meal  has spent the last fourteen years in the restaurant industry. He began his career in kitchens as a dishwasher and porter at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown and worked his way up in some of the best restaurants in Philadelphia and New York City to eventually hold his highest title as chef de cuisine at a restaurant called Once Upon A Tart in SoHo. Most notably, Chef Omar Tate has worked at Fork and Russet in Philadelphia and for Missy Robbins’ Michelin-starred restaurant, A Voce at Columbus Circle. 

Over the past three years, Omar has emerged as a visionary and a leading thinker on the restaurant industry’s cultural development as a whole. He specifically focuses on race and ethnicity to tear down structural barriers through his practice in Honeysuckle, his pop-up cultural concept. In 2020, Honeysuckle was named pop-up of the year by Esquire Magazine , and in 2021, Time Magazine named Omar as one of the 100 innovators to watch as part of their Time100Next list.  You can find Omar’s writings in Esquire Magazine, Eater, Heated by Mark Bittman, as well as his work and voice being cited, featured, and/or mentioned in the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Cultured Magazine, Wine and Enthusiast, Okayplayer, and others. He has taught classes at NYU, MIT University, and Dillard Universities, lectured at Paypal, and sits on the advisory board for the Museum of Food and Drink’s African/American: Making the Nation’s Table exhibition.

Danielle Wood congregant | voice serves as an Assistant Professor in both Media Arts & Sciences as well as Aerospace Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Wood also serves at MIT as the Faculty Lead for African and African Diaspora Studies. Within the Media Lab, Prof. Wood leads the Space Enabled Research Group which seeks to advance justice in Earth’s complex systems using designs enabled by space. The research of Space Enabled designs systems that use tools from space to promote sustainability on Earth and designs approaches to support sustainability in Space. The work is informed by Black Feminist thought and a commitment to artistic engagement.

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