CASTING NOTICE: SPIRIT MOVES, a new community opera

UPDATE! Submission deadline, extended through May 27!

Character concept art by Tommy Jackson



IN Series seeks young performer for world-premiere community opera


SPIRIT MOVES is a new family opera examining storytelling and how the past counsels us in the present and points us toward the future. The piece introduces a Black family navigating life’s struggles, finding solace and strength in their shared stories. SPIRIT MOVES engages audiences in the act of storytelling with artist-led call-and-response and shared movement, building community through theater, music, and dance. SPIRIT MOVES centers Black artists in all creative spaces - playwright, composer, performers. The piece honors and celebrates African American cultural traditions and seeks to utilize these and other storytelling traditions to create a space in which everyone has a voice. SPIRIT MOVES is a new work that seeks to connect with the community in real time, speak directly to the assembled audience, and in turn, hear directly from them.


The character of Baby Boy/Girl is a child of about 10 years old; for casting purposes, we will consider boys and girls ages 10-13. The young person cast as Baby Boy/Girl will need to be a confident singer and speaker: Experience in classical/choral singing is a plus, but not a requirement; those with experience in singing gospel, R&B, pop, or other non-classical styles are encouraged to submit for the role. A $750 honorarium will be paid to the performer.


Key artistic collaborators:

Jarrod Lee - Creator and Writer

Timothy Amukele - Composer

Shawna Williams - Choreographer

Commissioned by IN Series, in collaboration with DC Parks and Recreation and Friends of Oxon Run Park.


To be considered for casting, please submit a video of the candidate…

Singing a favorite song, any genre

Telling a 60-second true story: This can be something that happened to the teller, or a story that was shared with the teller - either is fine, as long as the story is true!


Video submissions are due by May 20, 2022. Please send all submissions to - Google Drive or preferred.

Rehearsal location is TBD, but likely to be in Ward 8. Performances will be held at the James E. Bunn Amphitheater at Oxon Run Park, in DC’s Congress Heights neighborhood.


Key dates (subject to change, updated May 19):

May 27 - Audition submissions due

June 5 - Casting decisions made

June 24 - Rehearsals begin (location TBD)

July 9 - Open rehearsal at the James E. Bunn Amphitheater at Oxon Run Park

September 15-20 - brush-up and technical rehearsals

September 22 and 23 - Daytime performances at the James E. Bunn Amphitheater at Oxon Run Park

Note: We will present two performances each on September 22 and 23, for a total of four performances.


Please note: Daytime rehearsals and performances will be required in September 2022. Performances will be open to the public, as well as attended by students from DC Public Schools in Ward 8.



SPIRIT MOVES opens with a conversation with the community; Gladys, the elder matriarch of the family that makes up the core of SPIRIT MOVES, chats with a group of community elders and leaders - old friends catching up in the community garden. Gladys leads the community in a sung call-and-response, building a sense of belonging. As Gladys begins dinner preparations, Baby Boy/Girl, her grandchild, comes running to her, in tears; they’re being bullied by the kids at his school, and have recently lost their mom. Gladys comforts them, and soon they are singing and dancing together. Gladys’ son, Jerry, comes to collect Baby Boy/Girl, distracted by the stresses of the day and grief over the recent loss of his wife. Jerry takes Baby Boy/Girl away, leaving Gladys alone.

As Gladys watches her family leave, she feels a familiar presence - the spirit of her husband, Freddie. Granny and Freddie move together; Granny is dancing joyfully with Freddie when her Son returns; he sees her dancing alone. Granny tries to engage her son in the dance; his grief keeps him from moving with her. Shortly after Jerry leaves, Gladys feels Freddie’s presence again; they dance, and Freddie’s spirit leads Gladys onward.

Jerry and Baby Boy/Girl return to discover that Granny has transitioned. Baby Boy/Girl reminds their father what Gladys taught them both - nothing is truly lost, to remember is to live. Baby Boy/Girl helps his father remember how to move with the spirit; Gladys, Freddie, and Jerry’s wife join them in a joyful dance.

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