In 2019, Simon Tam was a keynote speaker at the NAAAP Leadership Convention in Kansas City. His presentation, SLANTED: HOW AN ASIAN AMERICAN TROUBLEMAKER TOOK ON THE SUPREME COURT, tells the story of Asian American dance rock band, The Slants going to the Supreme Court to fight for the right to use their name. Their journey is one of three multi-genre stories selected by a panel of St. Louis artists, advocates, and community leaders as the first works to be presented in the Opera Theatre of St. Louis' New Works Collective.
This three-year commissioning cycle pushes the boundaries of opera by combining music and storytelling in powerful new ways. Through this initiative, they seek to create an authentically inclusive environment on their stages by introducing works with diverse perspectives and voices. Audiences will have the opportunity to experience Slanted: An American Rock Opera, Cook Shack, and Madison Lodge during the inaugural season.
We look forward to experiencing these unique stories to spark meaningful conversations about our shared humanity. NAAAP-KC Board members will support this effort by promoting and attending the upcoming performances. We invite you to join us in making opera more accessible by supporting the artists who create new works and the audiences who experience them.
Please follow and share the social media of OTSL and the artists involved, and if possible, take a road trip to St. Louis to support the productions in person. NAAAP-KC Board members will be attending the performance on Saturday, March 18th. Together, we can amplify stories that have been historically overlooked and ensure a more equitable representation of diverse voices in opera.
The New Works Collective
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis believes true representation on our stages and within our creative teams requires thoughtful, intentional disruption to the established commissioning process. The New Works Collective is a three-year commissioning cycle that will push the boundaries of opera by combining music and storytelling in powerful new ways. To adopt practices that ensure we are not only diverse in our programming but are also authentically inclusive, the New Works Collective initiative is guided by a group of St. Louis community members who will shape an open call for commissions, review submissions, and annually select three projects for development.
Here is some info on the 3 works being presented:
Slanted: An American Rock Opera
In 2017, an Asian American dance rock band called The Slants went to the Supreme Court to fight for the right to use their name. Now, real-life protagonists Tam and Jiang are setting their judicial experience to music — including a powerful lesson on free speech and bridging political divides from the late and prophetic Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Enlightening, funny, and ultimately uplifting, this story proves that no obstacle is too difficult to conquer…as long as you have a little heart and a lot of rock n’ roll.
Dayo struggles to fit in at school. Like so many other young girls, she hides her true potential in order to fly under the radar. That is, until her classroom takes a field trip to see a “Superheroes of Invention” exhibit at a local museum. As Dayo comes face to face with prolific Black female inventors of the 20th century, she hears each woman’s unique story through the music and words of their era — from ragtime to blues to funk. These icons of science inspire Dayo to finally celebrate herself and her own superpower.
Get ready for the Roaring Twenties like you’ve never experienced them before. X migrates from the South to the mecca of Harlem, desperate to escape their small-minded town. X’s life is forever changed when they are introduced to drag balls and find a community where they can discover their voice, celebrate their humanity, and be their authentic self. Written to celebrate Black queer joy, this story reminds us all to live in our truths — unapologetically.