End of the Year Update

Dear Friends,
 

The past 12 months have been a time of momentous change. Division seems pervasive, and unity fragile and elusive. In response, all of us at Global Arts Corps have renewed our commitment to working with the next generation of young artists, educators, and activists and feel certain that this growing movement is more important than ever.

The reach and relevance of our Cambodian production, “See You Yesterday,” continues to grow. After traveling over 5,000 miles to Rwanda last year to share a story built out of their fragmented, inherited memories of the Khmer Rouge, the 19 young circus performers in our cast are now ready to share what they learned on the road. In 2018, they will tour Cambodia, performing outdoors for the public and conducting post-performance workshops at schools and at teacher training centers. Additionally, the documentary film, “Year Zero36,” which follows the development of the production, the trials and triumphs of its young cast, and the culminating performance in a Congolese refugee camp, will be shared with audiences worldwide. 

Simultaneously, our research and development continue for our newest project – an immense, multi-year, multi-pronged initiative born out of our work over the last 15 years that will bring many different powerful stories of past and present conflict together on one stage, at one time. In 2018, we’ll begin to develop pieces of the final production on multiple continents, highlighting the efforts of women’s movements past and present and working with refugee and host communities, among many others. Stories from each of these places and more will be shaped into a single kaleidoscopic production exploring multiple conflicts as they move backwards in time, all examining violence, fear, courage, denial, shame, and hope across borders and across generations. This project will live on in a multimedia online educational archive that will allow participants to study the various smaller theatre pieces and conflicts that contribute to the larger whole, finding connections across an infinite number of combinations….and serving as an open space for transformative dialogue between people who’ve never talked to each other before.

Consistently, throughout all of these projects, our programs and techniques of learning and empathy exploration multiply as the number of our international youth mentors grows. The fact that this team is made up of teachers from totally disparate cultures reminds us that no matter where we’re from, we wrestle with the narratives that have been passed on through generations. 

Your support contributes to our efforts to help youth embrace and honor all of their conflicting identities – without shame and with empathy – in the face of entrenched difference. 

Global Arts Corps is funded entirely by donations. We hope that you will support these efforts by making a tax-deductible contribution – either through our website, or by mailing a check to Global Arts Corps at 790 Riverside Dr. #6P, New York, NY 10032.

Thank you, and happy holidays from all of us at Global Arts Corps.

Petition to Review the Case of Osman Kavala

Our dear friend and colleague, rights advocate, philanthropist, and civil society figure, Osman Kavala, was arrested by Turkish officials in October and has been detained for nearly a month. We are privileged to call Mr. Kavala a friend and colleague, who, over the course of several decades, has used arts, culture, and dialogue to facilitate exchanges throughout Europe. We attest without doubt to his decency, loyalty, and commitment to peace and join with the extraordinary artists and peacemakers signing this petition.

Global Arts Corps featured in the UNESCO Courier!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Friends,

Global Arts Corps is honored to be featured in an article in the latest issue of The UNESCO Courier, entitled “Breaking the Cycle of Vengeance,” by Rwandan journalist Marie Angélique Ingabire.

To access the full issue through UNESCO’s website, please click here.

Thank you all for your continued support,
— The Global Arts Corps Team

A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake is now available for pre-order!

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Actors Quanita Adams & Nick Boraine

Dear Friends,

Global Arts Corps is thrilled to announce that our documentary A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake is now available for purchase through the film’s educational distributor, Documentary Educational Resources (DER).

A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake is our award-winning documentary that follows a diverse group of South African actors as they tour global war-torn regions to share their country’s experience with reconciliation. As they ignite a dialogue among people with raw memories of atrocity, the actors find they must confront once again their homeland’s complicated and violent past and question their own capacity for healing and forgiveness.

Through DER, the film is available to pre-order on DVD for individuals, educators, K-12 schools, universities, nonprofits, and other institutions. If you or anyone you know is interested in obtaining a copy of the film, you can click here to place your order. Questions and purchase orders can also be sent to orders@der.org. We’re proud of the impact this film has made in screenings and festivals, and are very pleased that it’s now accessible to individuals, educators, and organizations here in the US and abroad.

Please stay tuned for additional updates in the coming weeks, including the release of an article on Global Arts Corps in the UNESCO Courier.

United Nations Screenings in Geneva and Vienna

 

Global Arts Corps is honored to announce that A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake will be presented by the United Nations at two screenings in Geneva and Vienna next week. The details are as follows:
 

Geneva Screening of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake

Presented by Ciné-ONU

Tuesday, April 4th, at 6:30pm

Cinéma CINERAMA EMPIRE, rue de Carouge 72-74, Geneva

The screening will be followed by a discussion with Michael and Jacqueline Lessac. Tickets are free of charge, and seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information, please visit www.unog.ch/cine-onu

 

Vienna Screening of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake

Presented by The United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna, On the occasion of the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda

Friday, April 7th, 12:30pm

Vienna International Centre, UNIS Cinema Room (G0575)

Opening remarks will be given by Martin Nesirky – Director, United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna, and Michael and Jacqueline Lessac. This screening is by invitation-only. For more information, please contact us at info@globalartscorps.org.

 
Please stay tuned for updates on these screenings, and the recent pick-up shoot for the new feature documentary on our Cambodian project, Year Zero36.

Global Arts Corps in the Huffington Post!

Dear Friends,

We’re writing to share an article about Global Arts Corps in the Huffington Post, written by one of our Board members, Arlene Lear.

Arlene has spent the last 35+ years working in international development–the majority of them with Counterpart International–with a focus on building institutional and leadership infrastructure in Eurasia, Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. In the Huffington Post article, Arlene discusses her passion for supporting our work and shares a collection of photos and stories from the recent tour of our Cambodian production, See You Yesterday, to Rwanda.

Arlene writes,

“Led by its Artistic Director, Michael Lessac, the Corps replays and rehearses conflict and reconciliation on stage by giving equal value to the painful memories and lingering fears felt by both victims and perpetrators – unveiling the humanity in each side to provoke mutual empathy and make consideration of reconciliation even possible. What is unique about the Corps’ methodology is that all productions are co-created by its actors who themselves have lived through the results of the conflict being portrayed.

The Corps’ productions have universal appeal as they touch the hearts and minds of audiences daring to examine what it means to be human facing the loss of loved ones, home and identity. Musical elements of the production further stir emotions and reflection about one’s own buried, or not so buried, prejudices and empathy deficits.”

To read the full article, please visit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58b07ec8e4b0658fc20f949d

Thank you all for your continued support,
— The Global Arts Corps Team

A message from one of our Cambodian cast members

Phounam Pin (second from right) translates during a Global Arts Corps production development workshop at the Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang, Cambodia.

We’d like to share a message with all of you, as supporters of Global Arts Corps, from one of the young Cambodian artists who worked with us throughout the development of See You Yesterday. Phounam Pin joined Global Arts Corps’ project during our first visit to the Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang in 2012, and continued working with us as a cast member and translator up until our world preview performances in Phnom Penh last year, when she left for the US to pursue a college degree. 
 
Phounam is currently studying and raising funds to earn her Associate’s Degree from a community college in the Washington, DC area. Her goal is to go on to earn a Bachelor’s degree at a 4-year college in the United States and then return home, where she can pursue a career transforming the lives of other young Cambodians through the arts.
 
Phounam wrote the statement below about the ways in which her training in circus at Phare and her collaboration with Global Arts Corps impacted her life and her goals for the future. Like all of the young artists we’ve collaborated with in Cambodia, Phounam brings an enormous sense of optimism and openness with her wherever she travels, and we hope that her classmates here in the US learn as much from her as she does from them and her education here in the United States. We encourage all of you to visit her website at https://www.phounampin.com, where you can make a donation to support her studies and read more about her background and experience here in the US.
 
From Phounam:
 
I’m living my dream of pursuing an education in the US. I chose to come to study in the US because this is the country of freedom. There are so many positive and also negative things I can learn from my education here in America. I wish to be part of the solution to the problems in my country by enriching the messages through the arts. I wish to empower young artists and help them to unlock their potential and talents, to help them know that they have the power to change our society. 
 
Growing in a poor family in Cambodia, I’ve transformed my life through the arts. It is the only thing I’ve known since I was 7 years old. It has been the only activity that I had to make a living and to support my family before I came to study in the US. When I was younger, I never understood why my family was so poor and why there were so many orphans who lived in the streets, starving and never having the chance to go to school. Then, I began to see the causes behind it. And one of those causes was the impact of the wars that destroyed everything in my country, leaving us all in poverty and with scars in our heart that are very hard to heal. The genocide killed almost 3 million people in my country, including most of the intellectuals, the artists and many of the parents of those orphan children. 
 
Through the arts, I learned to express myself and to share these messages with my audiences. The Global Arts Corps has helped me to learn about the roots of the problems and the pain that remains deeply in my parents’ generation and in the survivors of Cambodia’s genocide and war who are still too afraid to talk about it. I’m honored to have worked with the team and to have been part of the show “See You Yesterday.” It is so inspiring that the young artists of the second generation from the genocide like us can tell the pain of our own stories through the arts. I now realize that it is only when we have understood our own histories that we can move forward into the brighter future and help bring peace to the world. 
 
I believe that we can use the power of the arts to change society. Art has played such an important role in my life and other young artists in Cambodia. I think it is time for us Cambodians to be united and make a change for our country and the future generations. 
 
I need your support to reach my dream and to help me transform Cambodia. Please donate generously through this website www.phounampin.com.
 
Thank you from the bottom of my heart,
Phounam Pin

“The stuff that peace is made of…”

As we begin a new year, we would like to share the quote below with all of you, our friends and donors, from an article written by a drama teacher who witnessed our rehearsals and performances with our Cambodian cast in Phnom Penh.

Thank you for making this work possible over the past twelve months. We ask that you support us again in 2017 by making a tax-deductible donation through our website, or by mailing a check to Global Arts Corps at 790 Riverside Dr. #6P, New York, NY 10032.

“On the floor of the black box there are some 20 actors working together forming the play that is: See You Yesterday, they are all from various parts of the country, with more or less unfortunate backgrounds. They work their way through the memories; there is absolute silence, outbursts of laughter and sometimes someone who breaks down crying. The stage is void of props and furniture, the set is their bodies and with intense physical theatre a story with hardly any words is taking form, it is so clear that I find myself completely immersed to the point that I lose my breath.

Together they tell a story of a genocide they didn’t live through, but that they live with everyday, a story of silence and suppressed emotions. Horrible acts of cruelty that shaped the society for generations to come.”
— Sita Ljungholm Verma, Plays to See

To read the rest of the article, please visit: http://playstosee.com/see-you-yesterday/?platform=hootsuite

Wishing you all a peaceful and courageous New Year,
The Global Arts Corps Team

Redefining the nature of hope

 
In the past year, we finished the development of our Cambodian productionSee You Yesterday, with performances that broke a silence between generations in Phnom Penh; we toured with the Cambodian cast to Rwanda–where genocide met genocide–closing the Ubumuntu Arts Festival in Kigali to a standing ovation; and we performed for thousands of Congolese refugees on a makeshift stage in a dusty football field in the Kigeme refugee camp, giving our audience members a sense of hope and possibility through the realization that they are not alone in the conflicts they have endured.

The Cambodian cast of See You Yesterday leading a workshop with young Congolese refugees in the Kigeme refugee camp

The Cambodian cast of See You Yesterday leading a workshop with young Congolese refugees in the Kigeme refugee camp

At the same time, we finished filming a new documentary on our work in Cambodia that will be completed in the coming year; we screened A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake at the UN and are arranging educational distribution for the film; and we are a designing a theatre-based curriculum that will introduce students here in the US to Global Arts Corps’ work, while asking them to collaborate and empathize with others from around the world.
 
It has been an extraordinary 12 months… and we would like to thank you all for your support.
 
As we look to 2017, we will continue to pursue touring opportunities for See You Yesterday while also expanding our work with migrants and refugees–incubating smaller productions in places like Sicily, where we will begin partnering with UNICEF to share the stories of young refugees arriving in Europe via Lampedusa. We will also look to increase our educational outreach through the Corps of teachers we have built up over the past 12 years… with trainers from South Africa, Kosovo, the US, the North of Ireland, and now Cambodia… where we have brought on 19 young artists at the very start of their careers.
 
The goal is to begin putting the tools that we have developing working in conflict areas around the world into the hands of young people with the courage to share and lead in teaching those even younger than they are. It’s about approaching youth to find ways to create identity based on diversity and not on inherited hatred or victimhood.
 
So It also involves redefining the nature of hope… turning hope into an expectation rather than a dream, taking people isolated by their own fights and introducing them to others with their own fights and training them to use each other’s denial to temper their own. We will bring these young artists together in a Summit of Radical Reconciliation–a well-publicized place for a groundswell of dialogue between people who have never talked together before. I plan to achieve this by 2020–our next election.
 
As we approach the end of the year, we would like to thank you for all of your past generosity and ask that you join us again in 2017 by supporting this effort with a tax-deductible donation to Global Arts Corps–either through our website, or by mailing a check to Global Arts Corps at 790 Riverside Dr. #6P, New York, NY 10032.
 
Thank you and happy holidays from all of us at Global Arts Corps.

It felt like a different movie…

A Note from Artistic Director Michael Lessac

Last Thursday at the United Nations headquarters in NYC, the UN Department of Public Information presented a screening of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake as part of their observance of World Tolerance Day.

Following the screening, Nick Boraine and I joined a post-screening discussion with panelists from South Africa, Rwanda, and Colombia… Nearly 450 audience members attended. The conversation was lively and impassioned.

Watching the film on this occasion—in a room that formerly housed the Security Council and on a day intended to celebrate the fostering of mutual understanding among cultures and peoples—it felt like a totally different movie.

The film felt at once more optimistic, more complex, more relevant, more hopeful and sadder at the same time—its implications for how civil societies fall into division, the power and danger of language and how that language can seed potential for physical violence, how genocide begins at the breakfast table, and how normalizing can quickly tip over into violent conflict. But most importantly, it offers the potential for how people coming out of violence can speak to other people coming out of violence (or on the verge of violence); and see the lies and myths at the heart of a country’s racism and nativism, therefore implicating their own.

I am heartened to now see that this film is reaching out to new audiences at a time when perhaps more than ever we can take hope in the courage of others who have confronted the divides and denial in their own communities and are not afraid of their own empathy.

Plans are now in place to organize additional UN screenings of the film in Brussels, Vienna, and Geneva.

With adequate funding, we will complete our next film coming out of Cambodia in Spring 2017.

I hope you will join us in supporting this effort.

And I will leave you with this photo from Mostar in 2008…

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…A city still struggling to reconcile 15 years after the Bosnian War. A famous bridge, once a symbol of peace in the Balkans, bombed during the war… Now reconstructed as a monument to a hopeful future. We were told that audiences from the 3 sides of the divide–Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs–would not sit together in one location. So we performed Truth in Translation on a platform at river’s edge for part of the audience; and projected video of the live performance into the side towers of the bridge, where others could view it simultaneously from different locations.