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.

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.

See You Yesterday – Previewed in Phnom Penh

A Note from Michael Lessac

IMG_6317

We’ve just returned from Phnom Penh where we had an extraordinary opening of our Cambodian production See You Yesterday. Word spread fast and we played to overflow houses filled with children and adults of all ages, including some former Khmer Rouge soldiers, survivors of the genocide, students and teachers as well as delegates from around the world who were part of Cambodian Living Arts’ Forum on “Living Arts in Post-Conflict Contexts.”

We have added a magnificent new score by Michael Jay, an exquisite lighting design by Dave Feldman, a subtly brilliant soundscape by Scott Lehrer, and beautifully simple costumes by Vong Vannak. The piece starts in a circus rehearsal room with this opening line: “Every day we rehearse to become normal again.” It quickly catapults into an adventure of startling imagined reminiscence. Very little translation is needed in this piece because, using their extraordinary circus skills, the cast paints memories. They have created a piece that moves like a graphic novel. It is structured out of their own lives, their own research, and leavened with their own imagination. This company has become an incredible ensemble and their circus skills are world class. We worked on this piece for seventeen weeks over a period of four years. They have in my opinion created a vision and memory of incredible honesty and imagination – hope out of despair.

“KR gives way to Hope in Haunting Show” was the headline of the lead story in the Cambodian Daily the next morning.

IMG_6578

After each show we mingled with elders who said they were were swept away by the immediacy and generosity of these magnificent young people, finally in dialogue with their elders in what I can only describe as a reconciled reunion. People were listening to each other again.

To my friends, I can only say I wish you all could have been there and promise that I will do my best to bring it on tour around the world.

Scotland Screening and Other Updates from Global Arts Corps

 Dear Friends,

We are pleased to announce that A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake will be shown at the upcoming Africa in Motion Film Festival in Edinburgh. The film will be part of a series exploring recent transitions towards freedom across the African continent. The Africa in Motion Film Festival, now in its tenth year, highlights remarkable stories and filmmaking from across the region. This year’s festival will run from Friday, October 23 to Sunday, November 1. Here are the details for our screening:

Edinburgh Screening
Friday, October 30th, 8:45pm
Summerhall, Red Lecture Theatre
1 Summerhall
Edinburgh, EH9 1PL

Tickets and more information can be found here.

We are also very happy to welcome a new board member at Global Arts Corps, Alan Winnikoff. Alan is the co-principal of Sayles & Winnikoff Communications and has an extensive background in digital communications and content strategy for arts organizations. We look forward to collaborating with Alan to share our work with a broader audience and expand our current media presence.

And finally, Michael and Jackie Lessac are traveling to Cambodia this week for our final eight-week production development workshop with the performers of the Phare Ponleu Selpak. They will be joined by Global Arts Corps Associate Artists from the US, Cambodia, Kosovo/France, and South Africa. A fusion of circus and theatre, the final production will explore the silenced past of a nation through the imaginations of its youth.

A photo from our last workshop with the Phare performers, February 2015, Battambang

A photo from our last workshop with the Phare performers, February 2015, Battambang

 Please stay tuned for more updates on their progress in Cambodia in the coming weeks.

Thank you all for your continued support.

Warmly,

Global Arts Corps 

We’re Hiring!

Dear friends,

We are hiring a Communications and Production Assistant for our NYC office! Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or applications. Find more information about this opportunity below.

Thank you!

Communications and Production Assistant

Start date: flexible, preferably late-September
Hours: 15 hours/week, specific days/times flexible
Compensation: Commensurate with experience

The theatre/conflict resolution organization, Global Arts Corps, seeks a qualified communications and production assistant. Working closely with the Managing Director, the communications and production assistant will assist in the day-to-day operations of the organization, drafting and coordinating the output of organizational communications (social media, newsletters, website, etc.), planning special events, researching fundraising opportunities, and producing Global Arts Corps workshops and performances.

ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION

Global Arts Corps is an international community of professional artists who believe in the transformative power of theatre. Our aim is to use theatre as a catalyst for dialogue, as a way to shift perspectives, and ultimately, as a means of bringing about reconciliation.

The Global Arts Corps is a 501c3 nonprofit organization with a small New York headquarters staff, which includes the Artistic Director, Executive Producer, and Managing Director; our team also includes an Associate Artistic Director and several local line producers based overseas and outside of the office.

QUALIFICATIONS AND SKILLS:

• Ambition, and a passion for the Global Arts Corps’ mission with a “can do” attitude
• Excellent written and oral communications skills
• Familiarity and comfort with social media channels
• Experience updating website content
• Is a self-starter with the ability to work both independently and in an office setting
• Experience & comfort communicating with an international base of colleagues
• A personal laptop to use in the office
• Global Arts Corps’ office is located on W. 157th Street. Candidates should be available to come to the office at least twice per week
• Sensitivity to confidential information
• Familiarity with FinalCut Pro and basic film editing experience is a plus, but not required

RESPONSIBILITIES MAY INCLUDE (but are not limited to):

• Event planning (making travel arrangements, reserving spaces, etc.)
• Conducting research for fundraising opportunities
• Assisting in the compilation of materials for grant proposals
• Filing, organizing, and data entry
• Maintaining and updating organization’s social media profiles
• Monitoring and reporting on analytics of social media channels
• Researching and pitching story ideas for blog and social media channels
• Writing and editing blog posts
• Brainstorming strategies for increasing social media presence and designing online marketing and fundraising campaigns
• Assisting in writing, designing, and disseminating organizational newsletters

This is a unique and exciting opportunity to learn about the operations of an international conflict resolution/theatre organization and to support our work in post-conflict areas around the world.

To apply: Please send an email with your resume, cover letter, and one short writing sample (1-2 pages) to Sarah Case at info@globalartscorps.org with “Communications and Production Assistant – [your name]” in the subject line. No phone calls please. We will email candidates selected for interviews in early-September.

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 

Melding Archetypes and Acrobats in Cambodia

DSC05073

A melding of archetypes and acrobats from our circus theatre exploration

21 performers working together as an ensemble to collectively probe their imaginations about the past… – The Landmines or The Good People

News from Cambodia

Dear Friends,

Based on the extraordinary progress we made during this last workshop, we have decided to return to Battambang in October 2015 to finish the production before the end of the year. This means we will be touring a year earlier than we anticipated. We are already working with partners to design an international tour of the production that will include stops in several American cities in 2017. \

Stay tuned for updates over the coming months. For now, please take a look at the gallery from our most recent workshop. These young adults are amazing.

Thank you all for your continued support.

Warmly,
Global Arts Corps 

DSC05020

Group improvisations with a variety of props

Gearing Up for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Dear Friends,

Michael and Jackie have just wrapped up the final screening of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake at the Festival International de Programmes Audivisuals (FIPA) for the film’s European Premiere in Biarritz.

From Biarritz, they head to California for the film’s West Coast premiere at the 30th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

We hope our friends in Southern California are able to make it to the festival. The film screening times and locations are as follows:

  • January 28th, 7pm (at the Metro 4 Theatre 1)
  • January 29th, 1pm (at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art)

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival does not sell individual tickets, however tickets can be purchased in packets of four or ten (and are valid for all film screenings) here.

We will post again soon with more news from the festivals. We thank you for your continued support!

Warmly,
Global Arts Corps

European and West Coast Film Premieres!

Happy New Year to all of you from Global Arts Corps. We are very pleased to be able to begin 2015 with the announcement of the European and West Coast premieres of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake.

The documentary film has been selected to have its European premiere in Biarritz at the 28th edition of FIPA, the Festival International de Programmes Audivisuals, and its West Coast premiere in Santa Barbara at the 30th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, as part of their social justice competition. For those of you in France and California, we hope you will be able to join us for the film’s presentations.

The film’s screenings at FIPA will take place on January 21st, at 2pm (followed by a Q&A), and on January 23rd, at 3:15pm.

The film’s screenings at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival will take place on January 28th, at 7pm, and January 29th, at 1pm. Both will be followed by short Q&A sessions.

Please visit FIPA’s website here and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s website here for the most up-to-date information on screening venues, directions, and ticket sales.

We continue to be honored by the recognition that A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake has received and thank you all for helping us make 2014 one of our most exciting and productive years yet.

Living in the Spaces: A Reflection on Never Fall Down

Dear friends,

This is a second reflection from one of our summer 2014 fellows, Sandrayati Fay. As research for our Cambodia project and in organizing the Indiegogo campaign, many of the fellows read Patricia McCormick’s book Never Fall Down, which chronicles Arn Chorn-Pond’s life when he was a child solider in the Khmer Rouge.

“A good book is the precious life blood of a master spirit” – Milton.

Milton speaks to me as I peer out the window and read his words engraved in an old museum across the street of the Global Art Corps office here in New York City. These words resonate relevance today. I’m new to New York. I find that here, more than anywhere else I’ve been I’m effortlessly traveling through worlds. The city speaks many languages, body and tongue, and as a global nomad myself, I blend in a comforting awareness of diversity. When I arrive in the office I am in a space that is working to articulate the significance of diversity in the light of reconciliation and the power of the unification through art.

In my commute to work the past week, I’ve been reading Never Fall Down, the story of a Cambodian child soldier in the Khmer Rouge. The world I travel into through the writing grounds me in this chaotic city. Not that it is comforting, but it magnifies the reason why I am here today. It’s easy to feel small and purposeless in the concrete forests and the dense population here, and Never Fall Down traced me back to the reason why I am present in this city for the story relates to Global Arts Corps project in Cambodia, making it more real and urgent.

Arn’s life story exposes and confronts the extreme layers of conflict and amplifies the power that art and storytelling has in advancing individual as well as communal reconciliation. His ‘life blood’ articulated through his Cambodian English accent reveals a rare honesty in the darkness of war from a perspective and transformation of innocence. The light that he found in the darkness of his experience amplifies the significance of the work that GAC does. By confronting the pain of his past Arn has been able to move into a future where he is inspiring people to find peace with in their own lives. The significance of stories that have never been told is now heightened and I can relate this to parts of myself as well.

I grew up in Bali, Indonesia where only 50 years ago was the battleground of genocide. I only learnt about this in my later years of high school and when the bliss of ignorance was broken I was overwhelmed by how foreign I felt in my homeland and a weight was suddenly present. I felt disconnected from a place I thought I knew and started to become fearful for the future. The fear came from the unknown. The gap of not knowing how something as violent as genocide suddenly became beautiful touristic Bali was uncomforting and questionable especially because it is a taboo to speak about what happened. How is one supposed to confront something like this?

Reading Arn’s story magnified the significance of communication between generations and how much power lies in the simple act of sharing a story. It made me realize that, when dealing with the aftermath of genocide, the only way to be unafraid of what is to come is to know and confront what has happened and move away from cyclical decisions that may lead us back there. We can create dialogue this through art and that is where theatre and storytelling is key.

It is exciting realize that our generation can be connected the action of confronting the past. Our stories are similar, which amplifies the reason why we need to face them. Arn’s honesty has awakened these connections and speaks towards a movement that is forming in our present generation, a movement that will lead us into an honest and peaceful future.

I grew up on the same land
that only 50 years ago
was battleground of genocide.

Bali is Paradise.
Step off the crooked plane steps,
welcome, speaks the dense wave of heat radiating runway pavement.
flowing with a river of beings seeking bliss.
sun caresses skin and the scent
of frangipani flowers blended with incense dance
in the wind. Welcome, speaks the island.

In child eyes, we were drawn to the rides
of waterbom slides and skimboarding tides.
shaded by the white lies, of white shadows that they rely.

In present eyes, Bali breathes alive, the spaces still in sunshine.
Like Wongaya Gede at the foot of Mount Batukaru,
Pura Luhur pulses the awakening of ritual. And
there is no gap between art and life- we live in the spaces.

But what kind of space do we stand with?
What kind of life does this land know?
What kind of death.
The ground is wide with wounds that are invisible today.
Deep, deep, deep under.

But we are cloaked with the enchantment
of carefully carved wooden penis bottle openers,
inhaling bintang beers,
burnt shoulders,
and hot sand perfectly shaping back
to fit into the ground through the stripped hotel towel.
The same sand that holds bodies hostage beneath you.

1965 blood was shed.
From lines of the people who surround you today.
The lines on the old mans face under the motorcycle helmet,
are scars carrying weight unspoken.
Present and heavy holding.
Our young new minds don’t know, for stories are silenced.
But their bodies know, for they don’t know where they are going.
Where do we go from here?

Always telling stories!
In dance, in gamelan, in ritual!
But never the story
of the killing.

Beautiful Bali,
your secrets are dangerous.
Wake up, wake up.
Then maybe we can seek bliss together
in our bloodstained rivers.

-Sandrayati Fay

Find more information about our Cambodia project here