This month, TPAC hosts the world premiere of Lucy Negro Redux, a provocative ballet about the black girlfriend of William Shakespeare.
The collaboration of dance, music, and the spoken word is inspired by a collection of poems by Nashville author Caroline Randall Williams.
The Harvard graduate says seven years ago she discovered that the "Dark Lady" of Shakespeare's Sonnets 127-154 was about someone who looked like her.
"So he's grappling with his desire for this woman who is dark and other," Williams explained. "And with wiry hair, and colored. And so to go back to this thing I've loved that's felt so white and nerdy my whole life, and to have him have this whole sequence of sonnets where he's maybe loving this black woman...that was just life-changing."
The ballet is choreographed by the Nashville Ballet's famed artistic director Paul Vasterling, with an original score by Grammy-award winner Rhiannon Giddens.
Randall performs as well.
"I hope they get shook by what's coming out of my mouth," Williams added.
Williams says she hopes the ballet gives the audience an "exercise in empathy," sparks conversation about modern interracial relationships, and gives a voice to those who feel dismissed.
Dancer Imani Sailers says it's meaningful to give people of color a chance to see themselves reflected on stage.
"It's really personal for me as black woman and as a black dancer to see that a black ballerina is the lead of this ballet, to tell the story of a black woman," Sailers said.
"I hope they're blown away by the magic that happens when many art disciplines come together in the explosion that's happening in this show," said Williams.
"Lucy Negro Redux" will run at TPAC for three-performances on February 8, 9 and 10.