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

See You Yesterday – World Premiere Phnom Penh

Global Arts Corps is thrilled to announce two upcoming World Preview performances of our Cambodian production, See You Yesterday (formerly known as REBOUND), in Phnom Penh on March 11th & 12th.

The cast of See You Yesterday in rehearsal at ISPP in Phnom Penh.

The cast of See You Yesterday in rehearsal at ISPP in Phnom Penh.

Jointly presented by Global Arts Corps and Cambodian Living Arts, the two performances will take place at the International School of Phnom Penh Black Box Theater. The event details are as follows:

See You Yesterday – Two World Preview Performances:
A Global Arts Corps Production
Produced in partnership with Phare Performing Social Enterprise and Phare Ponleu Selpak Association
Friday, March 11th, 7pm Saturday, March 12th, 6pm

Venue:
International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP) Black Box
Hun Neang Blvd, Phnom Penh, Cambodia (click here for directions)
For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact Line Producer Amrita Performing Arts at +855 (0)77 945 015 / +855 (0)77 986.

The cast and creative team of See You Yesterday in rehearsal at ISPP in Phnom Penh.

The cast and creative team of See You Yesterday in rehearsal at ISPP in Phnom Penh.

In preparation for these two performances, Global Arts Corps’ team is currently in the midst of our final 10 days of rehearsals with our young Cambodian cast. An award- winning composer and lighting designer, both from New York, have joined us in Phnom Penh and we are all working along with a local costume designer to add final production elements to the piece.

These two preview performances bring Global Arts Corps together in close collaboration with several of the most significant Cambodian arts organizations–Cambodian Living Arts, Amrita Performing Arts, Phare Ponleu Selpak Association, and Phare Performing Social Enterprise–and will allow our cast to perform before an international audience deeply invested in the subject matter of the production they have created.

Please stay tuned for more updates as we approach the performances.

Looking to 2016

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, we have just returned from nine weeks in Cambodia, teaching and collaborating with one of most exciting group of performing artists our directing team has ever experienced in our combined years. When these young circus performers present their exploration into their past on stage, they will be sharing their creative memory with young people around the world struggling to come to terms with their own violent histories.

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2016 looks to be full of significant opportunities for Global Arts Corps and these young performers:

  • The project has been chosen, out of thousands of applicants, to be one of 10 presented to an audience of over 400 performing arts presenters from 40 countries at this year’s annual ISPA conference in New York City in January.
  • Already a 2017 American tour of the production is being planned, with confirmed interest from over 10 presenters across the United States. It seems likely that an international tour will follow;
  • We have been invited to premiere the Cambodian production in Rwanda and South Africa (funding pending), exactly ten years after Truth in Translation premiered in Kigali in 2006, and 20 years after the establishment of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission;
  • We will be working with a Grammy and Academy award-nominated composer and music engineer, Michael Jay, to create the production’s score, as well as premiere lighting and sound designers from NYC;

We have shot an extraordinary new segment of film capturing the drama, the excitement and occasional sadness that has gone into the creation of this piece along with the personal stories, aspirations, memories, fears and hopes of the actors involved. With the trip to Rwanda and South Africa, the first installment of that film will be completed. With the American tour, a second film will follow their journey as they share their stories with youth around the world.

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We would of course not be at this point without the sustained support of all of you–our friends, donors, and colleagues–and cannot hope to achieve all we have set out for 2016 without your contributions.

We ask that you please consider supporting this project and our plans for the new year by making a tax-deductible donation to Global Arts Corps at http://globalartscorps.org/home/donate/ and by helping us spread the word about this project to other potential friends and supporters who might be in position to join us.

Thank you all for your continued interest in our work, and we wish you a happy and healthy new year,

All of us at Global Arts Corps

“Mud was up to here”

From Our Production Development Workshop in Cambodia:
A Note from Michael Lessac

Belle's mother

…Just had our first run-through. For all of us, the directing staff and the circus performers, this was the first time we didn’t just know we were exploring the past…we felt it. One young performer, referring to a Khmer Rouge scene in a muddy rice field, said, “Up until now, when I worked on this scene, on the best days, the mud in the field was up to here (he points to his ankle), but this time it was up to here” (he points to his upper thigh). I had to smile, thinking maybe that was perhaps the most sophisticated statement of acting I have heard in a long time.

A few days later, we were visited by the mother of one of our associate artists, Belle Sodhachivy Chumvan. Belle’s 76-year-old mother, Nou Sondab, was a famous actress before the genocide and survived the Khmer Rouge regime to continue on to be one of the preeminent actresses and singers in Cambodia. Interestingly, she is credited with being one of the first actresses to introduce realistic perceptual acting in the country. When she announced her age to the cast, she took her teeth out to demonstrate what happened when a Khmer Rouge soldier kicked her in the mouth.

At any rate, when I visited her after the run-through (she had tears in her eyes), she said to me through a translator, “These children…they weren’t there, but now they are and it is so good to see that they understand.”

Why else are we Global Arts Corps?

When a present generation plays back the past to the older generation, a fine and beautiful healing communication is achieved. If nothing more, there is an understanding between generations, an empathic acknowledgement of what their elders went through…which is perhaps forgiveness for ourselves as well as for each other. An exchange of gifts.

All best and happy holidays,

Michael Lessac

More Screenings on the Horizon and a Note from South Africa

Upcoming U.S. Screenings of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake and Recent Screening at the Cape Town Holocaust Centre

Dear friends,

At the end of September we will screen A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake in Dallas in association with Dallas Faces Race, the Embrey SMU Human Rights Program, the Trans.Lation project, and SMU Meadows School of the Arts. Following the Dallas screening, the film will be part of the Global Peace Film Festival in Florida at the beginning of October. Please find specific screening information below.

Dallas Screening

Wednesday, September 30th, 7:30pm
Angelika Film Center, Mockingbird Station
5321 E. Mockingbird Lane (Dallas, Texas 75206)
More information about this screening can be found here.

Global Peace Film Festival Screenings

Screening 1 – Thursday, October 1st, 8pm
Sun Trust Auditorium @ Rollins College, Winter Park FL
E. Fairbanks Ave. and S. Interlachen Ae. (Winter Park, Florida 32789)

Screening 2 – Friday, October 2nd, 5:30pm
Premiere Cinemas 1
3201 E. Colonial Dr. (Orlando, Florida 32803)
Tickets for both screenings can be purchased here.

Alex Boraine

Dr. Boraine speaks on the panel following GAC film screening at the Holocaust Center in Cape Town (photo credit: Vincent Raffray)

As many of you know, our first feature documentary, A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake, has been screened in classrooms and theaters across the globe since its world premiere at the Durban International Film Festival last summer. The film has been met with critical acclaim and racked up various awards including two honorable mentions at the Woodstock Film Festival as well as the Fund for Santa Barbara’s Social Justice Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Most recently, we screened the film back in South Africa at the Cape Town Holocaust Centre in partnership with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. It was by all accounts a moving evening made even more special by our panelists who spoke directly following the film–Dr. Alex Boraine, the co-chair of the South African Truth Commission along with Desmond Tutu; former TRC commissioner Mary Burton; and GAC members Yvette Hardie and Nick Boraine.

Thank you to everyone who attended the Cape Town screening, and, as always, thank you to all of you for your continued support.

Warmly,

Global Arts Corps

New Yorkers You’re Invited…

a snake poster

A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake in New York City

Dear friends, 

Global Arts Corps will be having an afternoon screening of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake in New York next week at The Paley Center for Media. The screening is free of charge.

Seating is limited so if you are interested please RSVP as soon as possible to Rebecca Paller at: rpaller@paleycenter.org or 212-621-6886. 

Screening Information:

    Friday, June 12 at 12:30 pm 
    The Paley Center for Media, Mark Goodson Theater
    25 West 52nd Street, New York, NY

* The film runs 96 minutes and will be followed by an informal Q&A with director Michael Lessac.

Warmly,
Global Arts Corps 

Documentary Wins Social Justice Award in Santa Barbara

We are very happy to announce that A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake was named the winner of the Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Competition at the 30th Santa Barbara International Film Festival. A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake was chosen out of a group of nine documentaries, all recognized for their role in advancing social, economic, and environmental justice.

We are honored by the enthusiastic reception of the film in Santa Barbara, as well as the outside hope and enthusiasm that this award has brought to our work at Global Arts Corps.

Nick Boraine, Michael Lessac, and Jackie Lessac on the red carpet at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Nick Boraine, Michael Lessac, and Jackie Lessac on the red carpet at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2015.

In March 2015, we look forward to participating the Atlanta Film Festival (March 20-29, 2015) and the Salem Film Fest (with a screening on March 11, at 11:30am). For more information on the film’s screening in Salem, please visit festival’s website here. As soon as the specific screening dates and times for Atlanta are available, we will post them on the film’s website and in our next newsletter.

From all of us at the Global Arts Corps, thank you for your continued support.

Highlights of 2014

Reflecting back not only on 2014, but on the past five years, we have seen an extraordinary movement emerge from what so many years ago began as a theatre production called Truth in Translation. We have witnessed how many of our films and stage productions have brought together young artists from around the world to join us, or with our help, strike out on their own. The momentum is alive and roaring as we enter 2015.

Looking back on the past year, we have covered much ground…

  • We are continuing to develop Landmines or The Good People in Cambodia, which will be ready to tour in the United States and to post-conflict areas by Spring 2016.
  • We launched an Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign to help fund the Cambodia project, alongside a 25-minute film documenting our second workshop in March 2013
  • We are currently in discussions with producing partners in Flint, Michigan; Dallas, Texas; Boston, Massachusettes; and with a transborder program at Arizona State University to organize an American tour of our North of Ireland project, Hold your tongue, Hold your dead.
  • Our feature documentary, A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake, had its official premiere at the Durban International Film Festival and its US preimiere at the Woodstock Film Festival where it was awarded two honorable mentions. We will soon be announcing screenings of the film as part of two festivals in early 2015, one on the West Coast and one for its European premiere.
  • Since the start of 2014, we’ve been invited to participate and present in a Culture and Conflict Summit by the British Council and US Institute for Peace at the Newseum in Washington, DC; The European Foundation Centre’s Annual General Assembly in Sarajevo; the Salzburg Seminar on Conflict Transformation through Culture; and a dialogue with the Carter Center and the Emory University Arts and Ethics program in Atlanta.
  • Finally, this past summer we launched our first fellowship program with an extraordinary group of four young women. We are looking forward to working with a new batch of fellows this upcoming summer.

Thank you all for your continued support, and we wish you a joyful and prosperous new year!