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The New Works Collective

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Experience the future of opera with three all-new 20-minute works!

Last winter, more than 130 artists applied to create new operas with OTSL. Ultimately, just three multi-genre teams were selected by a panel of St. Louis artists, advocates, and community leaders. Now, those three teams are about to prove just how innovative, inclusive, and fun opera can be.

These stories will whisk audiences from 1920s Harlem to the modern-day Supreme Court, and from the exuberance of drag ball culture to the empowerment of a young female inventor. Get ready for a night full of boundary-breaking surprises and joyful voices as we celebrate diverse cultures, stories, and the power of the human spirit!

Learn more about the NWC

Event information

Catherine B. Berges Theatre at COCA
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$35 – $55

Performed in English

Content Warning

Please be aware that this performance contains brief sequences of bullying, racially-motivated violence, police brutality, and examples of hate speech.

Sneak Preview

Listen in on the workshop process for the brand-new operas premiering in the 2023 New Works Collective! Get ready to hear three unique, groundbreaking stories about identity and belonging originating right here in St. Louis!

About Each Opera

By Del’Shawn Taylor and Samiya Bashir


Dayo struggles to fit in at school. Like so many other young girls, she hides her true potential in order to fly under the radar. That is, until her classroom takes a field trip to see a “Superheroes of Invention” exhibit at a local museum. As Dayo comes face to face with prolific Black female inventors of the 20th century, she hears each woman’s unique story through the music and words of their era — from ragtime to blues to funk. These icons of science inspire Dayo to finally celebrate herself and her own superpower.

By Simon Tam and Joe X. Jiang


In 2017, an Asian American dance rock band called The Slants went to the Supreme Court to fight for the right to use their name. Now, real-life protagonists Tam and Jiang are setting their judicial experience to music — including a powerful lesson on free speech and bridging political divides from the late and prophetic Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Enlightening, funny, and ultimately uplifting, this story proves that no obstacle is too difficult to conqueras long as you have a little heart and a lot of rock n’ roll.

By Tre’von Griffith


Get ready for the Roaring Twenties like you’ve never experienced them before. X migrates from the South to the mecca of Harlem, desperate to escape their small-minded town. X’s life is forever changed when they are introduced to drag balls and find a community where they can discover their voice, celebrate their humanity, and be their authentic self. Written to celebrate Black queer joy, this story reminds us all to live in our truths — unapologetically.

Creative Team

Del'Shawn Taylor


Samiya Bashir


Simon Tam

Composer & Librettist

Joe X. Jiang

Composer & Librettist

Tre'von Griffith

Composer & Librettist

Darwin Aquino


Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj

Stage Director

Devario Simmons

Costume Designer

Jiyoun Chang

Lighting Designer

Tom Ontiveros

Video Designer

Kelley Jordan

Wigs & Makeup Designer

Kirven Douthit-Boyd

Choreography Manager

Donald Lee III



Kimwana Doner-Chandler

Marie Van Brittan Brown

Dorothy Gal

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Ensemble

Flora Hawk

Dayo, Ensemble

Olivia Johnson

Dr. Patricia E. Bath, Sister, Ensemble

Melissa Joseph

Mona, Ensemble

Keith Klein

Solicitor General, Ensemble

Kelly Marsh IV


Kyle Oliver

Chuckie, Club Owner, Ensemble

Matthew Pearce

Simon, Ensemble

Ardeen Pierre

Annie Turnbo Malone, Lawyer, Ensemble

Namarea Randolph-Yosea

X, Ensemble

Ka Thomas


Maxi Glamour

Drag Artist

Leadership support for the New Works Collective comes from the Mellon Foundation and the Edward Jones Foundation.

Performances at the Catherine B. Berges Theatre at COCA are supported by the Berges Family Foundation.

Additional support for the New Works Collective comes from Annemarie & Matt Schumacher, Susan & David Young, and Dr. Pamela Stuerke.