With a bit of financial backing from the city, Baltimore’s DIY rock opera collective is linking up with Baltimore’s Arena Players for a two-part production in early 2018.
The planned February 2018 show will revive two one-act plays about prominent black Americans from the Baltimore Rock Opera Society’s 2015 “6-Pack” series: “Determination of Azimuth,” about NASA mathematician and “Hidden Figures” subject Katherine Johnson, and “Battle of Blue Apple Crossing,” which tells the legend of Southern blues musician Robert Johnson allegedly selling his soul to the devil in exchange for his superb musical skills.
The show is set to run from Feb. 9-11 and Feb. 16-18 at the Arena Players theater in Seton Hill.
The city is offering some help with a $5,000 grant from the Creative Baltimore Fund, administered by the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts. The money, to be used for production expenses, will come from the Mayor’s Individual Artist Award fund, according to BROS.
The rock opera troupe is already set to put on its first show in nearly a year next month. “The Terrible Secret of Lunastas,” first performed by the BROS at the Autograph Playhouse in a double feature show in June 2011, will premiere Sept. 15 at Zion Lutheran Church downtown.
For the upcoming two-part show in 2018, there’s another perk for local theater watchers: BROS will be partnering up with the Arena Players, the city’s historic African-American theater company. The former group hasn’t responded to a request for comment on details about arrangement, but said in a release that putting on both short plays will be a “collaborative effort.”
“We’re very excited to be working with the BROS on this project,” Arena Players artistic director Donald Owens said in a statement. “This is a great opportunity to tell some great stories from black history, and we’re looking forward to performing the unique art that a collaboration with BROS will create.”
For the better part of 2017, BROS has been dogged by bad luck and hellish renter troubles, including being ousted for months from its studio and workshop space in the Bell Foundry building in Station North, having some of its tools stolen by an intruder and getting put out of its former band rehearsal space in Studio 14 in West Baltimore due to code violations by the building’s owner.
BROS was let back into the Bell Foundry’s first floor in March, but, tired of having to relocate from not-up-to-code buildings, the group launched a Crowdrise campaign in December to raise $75,000 to help found permanent home with a stage, rehearsal space and more. The effort has raised $46,000 so far.