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A white glowing text that says, “[cheerfully] Hi, I’m captions!” appears on a red-orangey cinema screen.

[opera captions]

multifaceted performance,


Creator, Director, Writer, Composer, and Graphic Designer Jay Afrisando


Performers thingNY

Gelsey Bell – narrator, captioner, vocalist, & pianist

Andrew Livingston – narrator, captioner, & cellist

Erin Rogers – narrator, captioner, & tenor saxophonist

Dave Ruder – narrator, captioner, & clarinetist

Jeffrey Young – narrator, captioner, & violinist


Lighting Designer Christina Tang


Project Manager Terry Perdanawati


Graphic Designer Jay Afrisando


Original Photo for the Main Image kinsum

[opera captions] is made possible by the support of The MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, and Mellon Foundation. 

This production is a part of SubletSeries@HERE: a curated rental program, which provides artists with subsidized space and equipment, as well as a technical liaison.

Click here for the press release.

CAPTIONS [firm voice]: For a long,

I’ve been in the background.

Now it’s time for me to show up.


What if captions ‘step up,’ ‘speak with’ you, and ‘tell’ you about their stories? Will you listen to them?


[opera captions] focuses on captions that bring together accessibility, inner and imagined voices, and improvisation. A semi-fiction, semi-translation, semi-poetry, semi-film, semi-music, and semi-theater performance, [opera captions] reimagines what captions can do beyond functioning as a speech conveyor and a sound interpreter in audiovisual media. This live experience features captions as “an actor” interacting with and personified by bodily-diverse human beings: a collective of New York composer-performers thingNY and wonderful viewers-audiences. [opera captions] invites you to celebrate the lives of captions that have been both cherished and hated.

Accessibility/things to anticipate

  • Captions will be the main performance elements. They will also be audible.

  • There is no sound amplification, and the overall loudness will be moderate.

  • A very small part of the performance features profanity.

About the artists

Jay Afrisando is an Indonesian composer, multimedia artist, researcher, and educator. He works on aural diversity, acoustic ecology, and cultural identity through multisensory and antidisciplinary practices. His works include the 5-channel film installation In Which to Trust? (2022) and the spatial composition Ungklang-Angklung (2019), among others. Collaborating with various artists and culture bearers, he has presented works in various scenes and places, including at Walker Art Center’s Virtual Cinema (US), ARGOS Projector: The Faraway Nearby (BE), and Aural Diversity Conference at Attenborough Arts Centre (UK). He has been awarded the MAP Fund 2022 and the Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship 2021-22. His Embodied Music Club (2023) will be featured at Sound Scene 2023 at Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (US).

thingNY is a collective of composer-performers who fuse electronic and acoustic chamber music with new opera, improvisation, theater, text, song and installation. Founded in 2006, thingNY performs experimental works created by the core ensemble – alejandro t. acierto, Gelsey Bell, Isabel Castellvi, Andrew Livingston, Paul Pinto, Erin Rogers, Dave Ruder, and Jeffrey Young – and by adventurous composers such as Jennifer Walshe, Robert Ashley, Rick Burkhardt, Pauline Oliveros, Joseph White, and Julius Eastman. Past works by thingNY include: SubtracTTTTTTTTT, This Takes Place Close By, Time: A Complete Explanation in Three Parts (with Panoply Performance Lab), Dear Nancine, and ADDDDDDDDD. Recently thingNY released the album Passover on Innova Recordings.

HERE Arts Center, 145 6th Ave, New York, NY 10013, US on 26 May 2023.

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