UMS Unveils Parable Path A2Ypsi

ANN ARBOR —The University Musical Society (UMS) is excited to unveil Parable Path A2Ypsi in conjunction with the musical adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’sParable of the Sower by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon.

Parable Path A2Ypsi includes a Community Read, an Octavia Butler Week celebration (offered in partnership with the U-M Institute for the Humanities), and additional related events.

UMS is delighted to partner with several community organizations throughout the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti communities whose work reflects themes from the novel. These organizations are committed to action and advocacy for change-inducing conversations about sustainability, social justice, spiritual freedom, and inclusivity.

The Parable Path A2Ypsi events will culminate in three performances of the post-apocalyptic opera Parable of the SowerScience fiction fans, Afro-futurists, and opera fans alike will enjoy this relevant adaptation in Ann Arbor’s Power Center from Friday, March 25 through Sunday, March 27.

Community Read

UMS is partnering with local literary organizations, Octavia E. Butler enthusiast groups, and community and university scholars interested in Afrofuturism and self-sustainable collectivism as part of a Community Read of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower. The read takes place January through March 2022 with three virtual discussions about the novel.  

How to Participate

Let’s Talk about Earthseed

Three virtual community read gatherings that take place on the last Monday of January, February, and March. Each 60-minute conversation explores specific chapters of Parable of the SowerFree registration at

Monday, January 31 at 6:30 pm
Chapters 1 – 8, facilitated by Truly Render from Booksweet

Monday, February 28 at 6:30 pm

Chapters 9 – 17, facilitator TBA

Monday, March 28 at 6:30 pm

Chapters 18 – 25, facilitated by Paula Drummond from the Ypsilanti District Library 



 Octavia E. Butler Week and Associated Events

UMS and the University of Michigan Institute of Humanities are partnering to present a series of events celebrating author Octavia E. Butler from March 20-24, 2022, culminating in UMS’s performances of Parable of the Sower in the Power Center. All events are free and open to the public. 

The Infinite Detail of This Place & Time

Sun Mar 20 // 4 pm // Ypsilanti Freighthouse

An immersive multimedia performance of improvised music, live video, and audience participation presented by performance ensemble Virago and visual artist Bridget F. Quinn.

Toshi Reagon and Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs in Conversation

Mon Mar 21 // 5:30 pm // Rackham Auditorium

Writer Alexis Pauline Gumbs talks to musician, composer, producer, and activist Toshi Reagon about her opera Parable of the Sower, based on the book by Octavia E. Butler.

Presented in partnership with the U-M Institute for the Humanities

Reading Octavia Butler: A Panel Discussion

Tue Mar 22 // 5 pm // Rackham East Conference Room

A discussion of Octavia Butler’s enduring influence as a writer, thinker, and creator. Featuring U-M faculty Bénédicte Boisseron, Jeremy Glover, Aliyah Khan, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, and Antoine Traisnel.

Presented in partnership with the U-M Institute for the Humanities


Art & Afrofuturism Virtual Panel

Wed Mar 23 // 5 pm // Virtual Event

Featuring Naomi Andre, Tananarive Due, John Jennings, and Susana Morris. Moderated by Christopher Audain.

Presented in partnership with the U-M Institute for the Humanities and the U-M Arts Initiative


Parable Open Mic Night

Thu Mar 24 // 6 pm  // Now Studios (715 N University Ave, basement level)

Presented in partnership with the U-M Institute for the Humanities


Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower

Exploding the form of an opera into a congregational experience, Parable fuses science fiction, African-American spiritualism, deep insights into gender and race, and climate activism to construct a mesmerizing meditation on the future of human civilization.

Based on the post-apocalyptic novel written in 1993 by the late Afrofuturist and science fiction author Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower is a genre-defying work that harnesses two centuries of Black music. Written by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon (founder of Sweet Honey In The Rock), Parable chronicles the spiritual awakening of young Lauren Olamina amidst a dystopian America wracked by the violence brought on by unrelenting greed and systemic injustice.


Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower

Creation, Music, and Lyrics by Toshi Reason and Bernice Johnson Reagon

Fri Mar 25 // 8 pm // Power Center

Sat Mar 26 // 8 pm // Power Center

Sun Mar 27 // 4 pm // Power Center [just added!]

Lead Presenting Sponsors: UMS Board Co-Chair Lisa D. Cook and UMS Board Co-Chair Rachel Bendit and Mark Bernstein

Presenting Sponsors: Michigan Engineering

Funded in part by National Endowment for the Arts

Media Partners: WEMU 89.1 FM, Michigan Radio 91.7 FM, WDET 101.9 FM, and Ann Arbor’s 107one 

Ticket Information

Tickets, $28-$54 are available at 734.764.2538 or

Student tickets ($12 and $20) and Kids Club tickets (up to two $10 kids’ tickets with the purchase of at least one adult ticket at $20) are also available for all performances. Additional information about UMS’s Kids Club and student ticket programs can be found at and respectively.

About UMS

A recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts, UMS (also known as the University Musical Society) contributes to a vibrant cultural community by connecting audiences with performing artists from around the world in uncommon and engaging experiences. One of the oldest performing arts presenters in the country, UMS is an independent non-profit organization affiliated with the University of Michigan, presenting approximately 70 music, theater, and dance performances by professional touring artists each season, along with over 100 free educational activities. UMS is committed to bold artistic leadership, engaged learning through the arts, and access and inclusiveness. Since 1990, the organization has co-commissioned and supported the production of nearly 80 new or reimagined works. Matthew VanBesien became the organization’s seventh president in July 2017.

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