GO FORTH is a translation into performance of Going Forth By Day, a canon of nearly 4,000-year-old Egyptian funerary texts. The work examines how we make space in our lives for the presence of the absent.
My father died in Burundi. Everyone brought their own version of him to the funeral. At the burial ceremony, as part of a ritualized grieving process, I was struck by the continuum of processing and performing death, and the intimacy between Black people and death around the world. GO FORTH proposes burial not as erasure but as offering restitution, performing rites, and creating space for the absent, the imagined, and the longed for.
The deceased (REN) (Justin Hicks)
Priest / Guide / the deceased (KA) (William Nadylam)
Osiris / Guide / the deceased (SHEUT) (David Thomson)
The deceased follows the path laid by Osiris to eternal life. He becomes Osiris and takes his name. Mirroring, shadowing, copying. They are all the deceased. They are all the priest. They are all Osiris.
GO FORTH premiered at Performance Space 122’s COIL Festival in New York City and then traveled to the Genocide Memorial Amphitheater in Kigali, Rwanda; Cairo International Festival for Contemporary & Experimental Theatre in Egypt; Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans; Stanford University; and Wesleyan University’s Center for The Arts.
The work is a repossession of “canon” and resituating of this canon within our own histories as Black people. A remixing that points to revolutionary thought and labor that flooded between Black people internationally in the mid-20th century, producing movements of solidarity between formerly enslaved and colonized peoples worldwide. A moment where the looking inward and outward at imperialism and death mobilized powerful alliances from Harlem, Atlanta, and New Orleans, to Cuba, Ethiopia, Senegal, Vietnam, Haiti, and Rwanda. The work traces an intricate web of cross-continental relations shaping post-colonial understandings of self, nation, and the forces of what cannot be seen.