International Festival of Arts & Ideas and Yale Schwarzman Center Announce Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of The Sower by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon

Press Release

Opera co-directed by Eric Ting & Signe Harriday to be a capstone of One City, One Read Citywide Programming June 21-22, 2022

The International Festival of Arts & Ideas, and Yale Schwarzman Center (YSC), will co-present the operatic adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” this summer as one of its highlighted programs and the capstone of the citywide One City, One Read program devoted to exploring the themes of Butler’s classic science fiction novel. The production will be June 21 and 22 at New Haven’s Shubert Theatre.

“Parable of the Sower” is a mesmerizing work of rare power and beauty that illuminates deep insights on gender, race, and the future of civilization. A prescient science fiction masterwork, Parable of the Sower is the story of Lauren Olamina, a 15-year-old Black girl in a not-too-distant future of climate catastrophe and economic devastation. Butler’s novel received a 1995 Nebula Award and was a New York Times Bestseller in 2020. Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon’s fully staged congregational opera brings together more than 30 original anthems drawn from 200 years of Black music to recreate Butler’s sci-fi, Afrofuturist masterpiece live on stage.

 “One of the most appealing things about Parable of the Sower is its story weaving power, into compelling narrative. The music will leave you breathless, with dinner topics for days,” remarks, the Festival’s Director of Programming and Community Impact, Malakhi Eason.

Accessibility is a priority for this production, ensuring that income is not a barrier to acquiring tickets, which will be priced from $20 to $100, which will include an invitation to a special event in conjunction with the performance. The Festival Box Office will work with individuals for whom cost is a barriers. Tickets go on sale April 29.

The Festival’s Executive Director Shelley Quiala notes, “the power of Parable is its focus on empathy, self-determination, and creativity as the tools we need to change the world. We all have access to these things—they are inside us, as the heroine demonstrates with her forethought and intense dedication to community-building throughout the novel. In this way, the book and the opera serve as a powerful invitation to the communities in which it is shared to look within and embrace change and each other.”

Spurred by Butler’s work, artistic, religious, educational, literary and human service organizations across the Elm City are fully immersed in exploring and expressing the themes from the Parable. These collaborative partnerships will present more than 20 different community-building events over the course of the Spring and Summer. Some of the additional partners include the New Haven Free Public Library, Artspace New Haven, Best Video Film & Cultural Center, Yale Schwarzman Center, Elm City LIT Fest, Albertus Magnus College, Bethesda Lutheran Church, New Haven Public Schools, Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen, Gateway Community College, Inner City News, and more.

YSC Associate Artistic Director Jennifer Harrison Newman commented, “Reagon’s work does not begin or end at the performance date. The extensive experience and knowledge that Toshi brings not only as an artist and performer but as a producer, organizer, and activist provides opportunities for institutions within communities to work together in ways they may have never done before, challenging the ‘how things are normally done’ mindset.”

As an artist-in-residence, Reagon will continue to engage with New Haven organizations beyond the opera throughout the summer as the community continues to tackle some of the themes raised in the book and opera.

This production represents the first major partnership between the Festival and YSC, Yale’s newest center for student life and the arts.

More information can be found on the Arts & Ideas website at, with tickets going on sale April 29. Festival 2022, CONNECT, will take place May 4 - June 26, 2022, in and around New Haven, Conn., featuring more than 200 events, 85 percent of which are free, and many also livestreamed. Connect with the Festival and Connect it all in 2022.


How do you connect with yourself, your roots, your world?

Rethink community. Honor the Earth. Embrace your roots. Meet new neighbors. Baila en la calle.  Break the fourth wall. Learn something new. Read the future. Connect with the Festival and connect it all. May 4 - June 26, 2022. 

The International Festival of Arts & Ideas is a year-round organization that culminates with an annual celebration of performing arts, lectures, and conversations each summer in New Haven, Connecticut. The Festival convenes leading artists, thought leaders, and innovators from around the world for dynamic public programs to engage, entertain, and inspire a diversity of communities.

The 2022 Festival marks a return to fully in person programming with live-streams in downtown New Haven, in the heart of the northeast corridor, two and a half hours south of Boston and 90 minutes north of New York City.

The Festival’s programs have an impact throughout the year and include additional performances, educational opportunities, and the annual Visionary Leadership Award. The Festival was established in 1996, by Anne Calabresi, Jean M. Handley, and Roslyn Meyer, who envisioned an annual celebration in New Haven—a city steeped in a rich array of cultural and educational traditions—distinguished from other arts festivals by its fusion of the arts with events centered on sharing ideas.

The Festival is presented with major support from Yale University, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Connecticut Office of the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts with additional support from The City of New Haven, Connecticut Humanities, a non-profit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, media sponsor Connecticut Public, and our generous community of individual supporters.


YSC is transformational for Yale in providing, for the first time, a center for student life and the arts at the historic heart of the Yale University campus. YSC produces programs and collaborative arts experiences geared toward audiences within and beyond the Yale campus. Learn more at