WaterWorks serves as the umbrella for all Harlem Stage commissioned, presented and produced work, which is then premiered at our venue, The Harlem Stage Gatehouse. These projects are deeply ingrained in our vision for the Gatehouse as a home for artists to create and audiences to experience new, innovative and socially significant work.

Through WaterWorks, we affirm our role as catalyst, conduit and incubator of ideas. Through WaterWorks, we provide critical support for our artists to create and build new work and develop their craft; we engage our community through residency, humanities, and education activities; and we affirm our position as a presenter and producer of significant work that is relevant locally, nationally, and internationally. Artists receive commissions to create new, innovative, and socially significant work in an environment that encourages audience and community engagement, often through a multi-year development process. Harlem Stage takes on the role of producer or co-producer for these works in varying degrees depending on the nature of the work. We support the work of artists from inception through presentation, most often in a 3 year residency/developmental cycle.

WaterWorks History:

In spring 2004, Harlem Stage (HS) began commissioning artists who have shown bold vision in their work and who have had an impact on the cultural landscape, to create new works for our newest performance initiative, entitled WaterWorks. WaterWorks is named in honor of the 135th Street Gatehouse and its history as a station that supplied fresh water to New York City over a century ago and has now become a place from which art and ideas flow. WaterWorks presentations inaugurated The Gatehouse in the fall of 2006 with the following works:

Major works that have been supported through WaterWorks since its inception in 2004 include
  • Chapel/Chapter by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (2006)
  • Who Killed Bob Marley? by Roger Guenveur Smith (2006)
  • the 51st dream state by Sekou Sundiata (2006)
  • Reflections by Tania Leon (2006)
Since that time, commissioned works have included:
  • Visible by Nora Chipaurmire and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar (2011)
  • The Fats Waller Dance Party by Jason Moran and Meshell Ndegeocello (2011)
  • Holding it Down: The Veterans' Dreams Project by Vijay Iyer and Mike Ladd (2012)
  • Makandal conceived and written by Carl Hancock Rux, composed by Yosvany Terry and visual art by Edouard Duval-Carrie, directed by Lars Jan (not premiered to date)
  • Stranger on Earth by Carl Hancock Rux (2015)