Photo: Erin X. Smithers
Wilbury Theatre Group proudly presents the first show of its 2023/24 season, the world premiere of 22|6: THE REM|X OF A GLOBAL EXPER|MENT, written and directed by JaMario Stills. 22|6 is being billed as an immersive and thought-provoking theatrical experience that weaves together personal narratives, historical truths, and futuristic possibilities while exploring the lives of Stills and five other actors representing nationalities around the globe as they create and reenact a new world doctrine that connects and transcends time. A collective soul, they each bring an element of themselves to the production. Innovative to say the least, they invite the audience to reflect on their own roles in shaping the group’s experience. Stills explains “‘What if?’ is the question that motivates my creative process and the stories I write.”
22|6 challenges us to actively participate in a hilarious, and sometimes tragic, journey imagining our future. “I don’t think this play ever wanted to be a play,” says Stills. “The play is the making of the play. My friend described it as a live-action essay.” It wrote itself as it went along, but they are now sticking to the “script” they’ve come up with.
Cedric Lilly, a comedic force, shows us his spiritual side by opening the performance with guided relaxing breaths and the sound of a meditative ding of a singing bowl. The ensemble then moves into choosing high school superlatives they might be designated with today. Throughout the performance, Lilly tosses out bits of humor that draw attention to ironies. “I’ve been acting for a long time, and this is the most organic production I’ve ever been in,” says Lilly. “It’s a collaborative that grew. I felt safe and cared for, and listened to by JaMario.”
Lorraine Guerra, who is African-American, encourages us to research Drexciya (DO IT!). The Drexciyans trace their lineage back to the pregnant African women, considered by their captors to be sick or disruptive, who were thrown off slave ships to drown. “We have survived a storm that has tested our resilience. We move with oneness and grace.”
Brianna K. Rosario says she’s honored to be able to present herself in this piece in such a way that truly heals and empowers us all as a community, humans and souls. Proudly Puerto Rican, Rosario says, “We are loud, and we are quiet. The sand could feel me. The stars could see me.”
Chingwe Padraig Sullivan is a member of the Montaukett and Shinnecock Nations of Long Island. Sullivan’s mother receives a shout out for having supported and praised her child for having the bravery to sport long, sometimes braided hair during a time when it was frowned upon to do so. Sullivan, who at one point engages in poetic dance with Rosario, reminds us, “You are not free of the weight of responsibility.”
Becci Davis is a member of the WARP Collective in Providence, whose membership represents multiple ages, cultural backgrounds, and genders, creating ties across various career stages and practices. Recounting a Confederate statue situated at the border of her southern university and its downtown location, she asks us, “What’s important to your city? To history? Who gets to decide who gets remembered forever?”
What’s the significance of the year 2216? “That’s my own little secret. It does have a specific meaning,” says Stills. That’s something you’ll have to ponder, and if you think on it hard enough, you just may come up with it.
At times there’s a cacophony of erratic drum sounds, of penetrating thoughts, and disturbed energy (the music composer Danielle “Queen D.” Sullivan).
During the ending gab session, a patron gave an emotional thank-you to the ensemble for moving her. “We have a responsibility to care for you, the audience, and you care for us as well,” says Lilly. Go see it—it’s important!
2216: The Remix of a Global Experiment runs through October 15. For more information visit thewilburygroup.org/2216 or call (401) 400-7100.