The Generations

Created by Audrey Dwyer

“The Generations is a five-hour drama that will explore the power and resilience of a Black family over eons of time. My goal is to create a story that has one hundred characters, cover thousands of years and take us into an imagined future.  We will witness the celebrations and complexities of Black life across the globe. The Generations will be a story told through dance, movement, song, soundscape and text.” – Audrey Dwyer


Dramaturgy and process

Nightswimming believes that artists need to stretch forms, work on a huge scale, and push the boundaries of theatrical storytelling. Audrey is proposing to do all of that and much more in The Generations. We are delighted to collaborate with her and provide the resources to build this thrilling new work!

Nightswimming commissioned Audrey to create The Generations in 2021 as part of an initiative in which we made a public Call for Commission Proposals from Black and Indigenous Artists (see below for more details). We received 76 applications and it was truly a pleasure to read and consider each remarkable proposal. One of our goals, in addition to offering the commission, was to meet artists working across performance disciplines through the new work they most want to create. Thank you to everyone who shared a proposal with us!

Audrey’s proposal to make a play called The Generations stood out to us for its unabashed ambition to tackle the distant past, present and future of a Black family, and to embrace a huge scale in order to capture all ideas she was imagining…and also to challenge herself on virtually every level. How could we not say yes to such a vision!

Audrey wrote: “As I develop the play, I’ll draw a tree that will move past the conventional family tree structure and include the action of the play. I will research history through literature, art, film, manuals, maps, textiles and interviews. History will serve as a backdrop to the action of the play. It will also inspire each character’s backstory. I will investigate the psychological, ideological, mythical and political infrastructure of society in the past and present. Through direct address, I will examine how the viewer impacts the action.”

This is play creation that few are willing to take on and we are excited to match Audrey as she explores the vast realms of her topic. Since the commission, we have met at least monthly to discuss ideas, explore research, collect images and videos, talk about choreography and music, visit art galleries and respond to Audrey’s drawings and initial ideas about character and story. It has already been an epic journey.

More about Nightswimming’s Call for Commission Proposals initiative:

We reviewed the proposals with a paid adjudication committee of Thom Allison, Jeff Ho, Yvette Nolan and Michelle Olson, in addition to the Nightswimming team of Myekah Payne, Brian Quirt and Brittany Ryan. We identified a long list of exciting projects, and from that a short list whom we invited to develop a second round proposal. We paid the dozen shortlisted artists to create that proposal. We narrowed that to a group of finalists; we provided each with a fee and then met with them over Zoom to discuss their ideas and approaches in more detail. This led us to offer Audrey our $20,000 commission and creative support to an additional 6 artists.