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Players' collaboration with local theater group screens at WaterFire outdoor theater

May 4, 2021

The Community College of Rhode Island’s student-run theater group, the CCRI Players, is teaming with The Wilbury Theatre Group and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities to present a free outdoor screening of renowned poet Christopher Johnson’s powerful solo work Invoice for Emotional Labor, which was filmed at CCRI’s Bobby Hackett Theater before premiering online in April.

The free screening will be held at the WaterFire Theater Under the Stars in Providence from Thursday, May 20–Saturday, May 22 at 8 pm. Viewers must register in advance online. Outdoor seating will be available, though audience members are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or watch from the comfort of their vehicles. 

Each presentation will feature a brief introduction by Johnson, the lone playwright and performer of Invoice for Emotional Labor, a Wilbury Theatre Group’s Playwright-in-Residence, and internationally-known Poetry Slam champion.  

In Invoice for Emotional Labor, Johnson relives his personal experiences as an African American growing up in New Jersey and living in Providence, educating and inviting viewers into the process by challenging them to rethink preconceived notions on racial etiquette, unconscious bias, and cultural differences through his own unique lens. 

Johnson filmed In Invoice for Emotional Labor in 16 hours over the span of two days, calling it his most “powerful” piece to date. Invoice for Emotional Labor premiered April 8 to critical acclaim. Motif Magazine, a publication dedicated to arts and entertainment in Rhode Island, wrote: “Christopher’s poems are breaths in between each lesson and tale, and it is amazing to consider how Christopher, with great agility in both emotion and craft, pivots from each mode of delivery and each deep piece of content shared. … If audiences viewing Invoice for Emotional Labor were expecting to feel warm and fuzzy, to feel comfortable learning these lessons, they may have been disappointed. These lessons are a gift, though; one that can help white people to understand and empathize more with the history of race and the lived experience of anti-Black racism.” 

The WaterFire Theater Under the Stars is the second-largest outdoor theater in Rhode Island and the first of its kind in Providence. Launched in collaboration with The Wilbury Group in the spirit of former Gov. Gina Raimondo’s “Take It Outside” initiative, the theater offers visitors a safe “drive-in” experience featuring experimental theatre, original works, films, concerts, dance, and visual presentations. Visitors can view all presentations from the warmth and safety of their vehicle. Audio is available by tuning into 102.9 FM and images are projected onto a 40-foot screen with state-of-the-art projection capacity.

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