Artscape Theater to Workshop Paola Prestini’s Disabled-led Opera ‘Sensorium Ex’

By Logan Martell

On November 17, 2022, Artscape Theater in Cape Town, South Africa, will begin its workshop for composer Paola Prestini’s developing opera “Sensorium Ex.”

“Sensorium Ex” is written for soloists, choir, chamber orchestra, and electronics, and seeks to explore the nature of voice beyond language, as well as the human experience and relationships with community. The libretto, by Brenda Shaughnessy, draws from her own experience raising her son, Cal, who lives with cerebral palsy and is non-verbal.

Running through December 2, the workshop comes as part of the ArtsAbility Festival, the premier disability-led festival in South Africa, and aims to build a more inclusive approach to opera.

“Jerron Herman, myself and our producers are so excited to be partnering with the Artscape Theater and the ArtsAbility Festival to workshop a key scene of our opera, ‘Sensorium Ex,’ currently in development,” said Prestini in an official press statement. “Artscape provides an exciting forum for our ongoing exploration, as their leader, Marlene LeRoux, has foregrounded disability into the daily practice of art, and understands that different disabilities have different needs, while celebrating the diversity and richness of expression and voice in the community she brings to Sensorium. We feel beyond grateful to have the chance to collaborate and believe Artscape provides a unique and singular forum for this type of work.”