Gov. and Mrs. Deval Patrick were hon­ored guests last night for a per­for­mance at Northeastern’s John D. O’Bryant African-​​American Insti­tute. The event fea­tured the results of a col­lab­o­ra­tion four decades ago between play­wright and North­eastern dis­tin­guished artist-​​in-​​residence Ed Bullins and the governor’s father, the late jazz musi­cian Pat Patrick. The work, titled “Ascen­dance: Move­ment One,” had never been per­formed before Thursday night.

Patrick thanked Bullins for his ser­vice to the world through his art, and for the oppor­tu­nity to gain deeper insight into his father’s work. “I always knew that music was what my father did,” said Patrick. “As an adult I’m now learning that music was who he was.”

Bullins met Patrick senior in New York City during the late 1960s just after Bullins’ plays began to receive national acclaim. At the time, Patrick was a sax­o­phonist in the jazz group Sun Ra Arkestra. The two artists began col­lab­o­rating on a musical at Harlem’s New Lafayette The­ater. When the the­ater closed in 1972, Bullins and Patrick lost touch.

It was a very loving period of my life,” said Bullins of the col­lab­o­ra­tive time with Patrick. “[About two years ago,] I came across these works in my archives and thought, ‘This would make inter­esting material.’”

With the recent rise of Barack Obama, he was drawn to the idea of using “everyman sto­ries” to relay a mes­sage about the times. With the help of Dan Hunter, a fellow play­wright who also advo­cates for arts and cul­ture at the State­house, they received the governor’s blessing. The project then got underway under the direc­tion of Lois Roach, an award-​​winning pro­ducer and director, and facil­i­tator for Northeastern’s Stony Brook Initiative.

Dr. Richard O’Bryant, director of the O’Bryant Insti­tute, wel­comed the audi­ence of about 100 people from North­eastern and the greater com­mu­nity, stressing the impor­tance of working together across gen­er­a­tions. “Tonight is a cel­e­bra­tion of a journey,” he said. “We ask our­selves, ‘How can we unite as brothers and sis­ters? How can we sur­vive and thrive?’”

Pres­i­dent Joseph Aoun thanked the Patricks for their sup­port of the event. Building on the theme of bridging gen­er­a­tions, he pointed to the lead­er­ship of both Richard O’Bryant and his father John D. O’Bryant, for whom the O’Bryant Insti­tute is named.

He also affirmed the impor­tance of the insti­tute to the University’s values and mis­sion. “This insti­tute is a focal point for our com­mu­nity on campus and for the com­mu­nity around us,” he said.

The arrange­ments, by North­eastern pro­fessor of music and African-​​American studies Emmett Price, formed a ret­ro­spec­tive on love through the story of a couple that had been mar­ried for 40 years. Actor-​​singers Charles Clark and Fulani Haynes, and teenage dancers Tyrone Perry and Delinda Sales deliv­ered per­for­mances to music by Kyle Miles (bass), Tim Smith (drums), Craig Hill (sax­o­phone) and Price (keyboard).

I was very pleased about how well it went,” Roach said after the show. “There’s some­thing mag­ical about crossing the ages,” she explained, refer­ring to the inter­gen­er­a­tional cast. “Art has the power to…create con­nec­tions. Already, these guys are plan­ning to con­tinue to work together. How cool is that.”