Although Brer Rabbit The Opera: A Funky Meditation On Gentrification is a remix of Brer Rabbit, the African-American (via Africa) folk story, Greg Tate, Aisha Cousins, the Burnt Sugar Arkestra and cast have turned it into something bigger, longer and stronger then what I’d ever imagined the story to be.

The production repurposes the African-American folk story for a contemporary audience and transplants the controversial components of neighborhood gentrification to the fictional Briar Patch of Brer Rabbit. Although the actors were reading from scripts and still working on the beat, pace and some technical components of the play, viewing the work-in-progress was getting an early glimpse of a production that has the legs and tone to find its way onto Broadway.

The music, courtesy of the Burnt Sugar Arkestra was tight, and the inclusion of house music dancers, as vehicles to move and enhance the story, adds a nice touch to a remix of a well-known piece of African-American folklore.

Gentrification is impacting many neighborhoods, including the fictional Briar Patch. While the characters in the patch are familiar down to their accents and personal politics, it shows that gentrification is financial, social, racial and very personal to all involved.

Enjoy these sneak preview pics from the first night’s performance:

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