Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir is a New York City based radical performance community, with 50 performing members and a congregation in the thousands. They are wild anti-consumerist gospel shouters and Earth loving urban activists who have worked with communities on four continents defending community, life and imagination. Over the last 15 years of their "church," they describe the Devils that plague us as Consumerism and Militarism. In this time of the Earth's crisis - they are especially mindful of the extractive imperatives of global capital.
Their activist performance and concert stage performance have always worked in parallel. The activism is content for the play. They have won an OBIE Award, the Alpert Award, The Dramalogue Award and The Historic Districts Council's Preservation Award (for leading demonstrations to save Manhattan's Poe House), and half of their singing activists have been jailed, most frequently during Occupy Wall Street. Reverend Billy has been arrested about 70 times.
Reverend Billy and the SSC employ multiple strategies, including cash register exorcisms, retail interventions, and cell phone operas. Outdoors, they have performed in Redwood forests, between cars in traffic jams at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, on the Staten Island Ferry, at Burning Man and Times Square and Coney Island, and on the roof of Carnegie Hall in a snowstorm.
The Stop Shopping Choir is a diverse array of economic, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds and has members from every continent except Antarctica, which they're working on. Among them are scientists, teachers, artists, therapists, welders, cyclists, builders, developers, hairdressers, dog walkers, actors, truck drivers, tech geeks, scholars and executives. The Choir has toured in Europe, Africa, South America and throughout North America.
Here we discuss what drives the Reverend's tireless activism, the development of his persona and voice, and what it means to be an earth evangelist.