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


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.

Reigniting Reconciliation Dialogue in Durban

Global Arts Corps is just coming off an exhilarating week in Durban, South Africa, where our documentary film, A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake, had its world premiere at the Durban International Film Festival. We were honored by CNN’s selection as one of the “9 Must See” films at the festival and our nomination by local South African students as one of the top “5 African Films” at DIFF. This year’s festival marked the milestone of twenty years of Nelson Mandela’s presidency and the dawn of democracy in South Africa.

Following the two screenings of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake, we received an outpouring of support as well as overwhelmingly positive responses to the film. In addition to the two festival screenings, we held a post-film Q&A and an informal discussion, ‘Unmasking Reconciliation‘ facilitated by Mary Papayya (media leader / Secretary-General of SA National Editors Forum) and joined by distinguished panel participants – Dr. Alex Boraine (Vice Chair, Truth and Reconciliation Commission), Max Du Preez (writer, journalist, filmmaker), Vasu Gounden (founder and executive director of ACCORD), Thembi Mtshali-Jones (stage, television, film actress), Ela Gandhi (Gandhi Development Trust/Archivist) and Albie Sachs (activist/former judge on the constitutional court of South Africa).

It was invigorating to see a conversation around reconciliation reignited in the events after the film screenings. As Dr. Alex Boraine put it in our ‘Unmasking Reconciliation’ discussion,

“It’s very difficult to take a public stance for reconciliation when we have so many reminders of corruption in our country today… [reconciliation] is part of justice and if it is not part of justice then frankly it’s not truly reconciliation.”

Estelle Sinkins, a South African critic, echoed similar sentiments in her review of the film,

“Watching A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake, I was struck anew by just how remarkable the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings were. […] A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake is an extraordinary film, which left a deep impression on me. It deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.”

We are very grateful for the warm reception of the film in South Africa, and we look forward to more screenings in cities, festivals, community centers, and schools around the globe.

To read more articles published about the premiere of the film, please visit the press page of the film website.

Premiere at Durban International Film Festival!

Dear Friends,

The world premiere of the Global Arts Corps documentary film on the Truth in Translation project–A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake–will take place this coming Sunday at the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa. This year’s festival will honor the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s election to the South African presidency. For those of you who can attend, the two screening dates and locations are listed below. Please feel free to share this information with anyone else who may be interested.

Durban International Film Festival Screenings:

  • July 20, 2014 at 5:15 pm * – Suncoast Cinema
  • July 25, 2014 at 8:15 pm – Suncoast Cinema 

 For more information on the venue, please visit the festival website, here.

* Directly following the July 20th screening,Deputy Chairperson of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission Alex Boraine, and award winning political commentator and author Max du Preez will facilitate a question and answer session with the audience. They will be joined by Truth in Translation cast members Thembi Mtshali-JonesNick Boraine, and Fana Mokoena, as well as Yvette Hardie, South African producer ofTruth in Translation and Consulting Producer of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake.


Unmasking Reconciliation: 20 Years On….Moving Beyond the Cliché

In addition, audience members are warmly invited to attend an informal morning discussion on July 21st, at 10:30am in the Tugela Room of the Maharani Hotel to unpack the notion of reconciliation within the context of the milestone of 20 years of democracy and to reflect on the aftermath of the TRC within a new generation of nation-builders. The discussion will be facilitated by Mary Papayya – Media Leader / Secretary-General of SA National Editors Forum. Discussion participants will include: Dr Alex Boraine – Vice Chair, Truth & Reconciliation Commission / Writer / Commentator; Max Du Preez – Commentator / Columnist / Award-winning Writer / Film-maker; Vasu Gounden – Founder and Executive Director of ACCORD; Thembi Mtshali-Jones – Distinguished stage, television and film Actress; Ela Gandhi – Gandhi Development Trust / Activist; and Albie Sachs, Activist / Former Judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

To RSVP for the discussion, please contact Publicity Matters at by phone at 031 2011 638, or via email atilla@pubmat.co.za.

You may find more information about the film on the film website. Please stay tuned for more newsletter updates and keep abreast of GAC daily happenings on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Thank you all for your continued support.

– Global Arts Corps

International Premiere of Documentary Film!

Dear Friends,

2014 has been an incredibly busy year so far. We’ve just been invited to premiere our recently completed documentary film on the Truth in Translation project at the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa, which will also celebrate the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s election to the South African presidency. In order to differentiate the film from the theatre production, the documentary has been titled A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake. We will be in touch via our newsletter in the coming weeks with more information on the exact times and locations of the screenings. Until then, you can read more about the festival here.

Global Arts Corps workshop with the Phare Ponleu Selpak, February 2014

Global Arts Corps workshop with the Phare Ponleu Selpak, February 2014

In February, we made our second trip to work with the Phare Circus artists in Battambang, Cambodia in order to cast and continue development on our joint theatre/circus project. Andrew Buckland from our South African cast joined Michael and me for a second time as a trainer, along with Arben Bajraktaraj from Kosovo/France and Robbie Koen, also from South Africa. Arn Chorn Pond, former Khmer Rouge child soldier and founder of Cambodian Living Arts, also joined us to tell the young performers his story as part of the history we will bring into the show.  A new short film on this recent work will be on our website in August, and we’ve already begun preparations to return to Battambang in February 2015.

In May we were honored to be commissioned by the European Foundation Centre and the Robert Bosch Stiftung to make a 10-min film on our work for presentation at the Annual General Assembly of the European Foundation Centre in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The film, which you can watch here, provides a good update on our recent activities and ongoing projects.

We are back in the US with a lot of work ahead of us. Fortunately, we will be working with four young college and graduate student fellows over the next few months. Hallie Sekoff, one of our summer fellows, wrote a reflection on Never Fall Down that we featured in our last newsletter. If you missed it then, you can read it here now.

Please watch out for more updates on the premiere of the film and our summer fellowship in the coming months.

– Jacqueline Lessac

End of Year Review of Global Arts Corps’ Current Projects


Hold Your Tongue, Hold Your Dead

In September of this year, Global Arts Corps premiered our Northern Irish production—Hold Your Tongue, Hold Your Dead—in four workshop performances at ArtsEmerson in Boston’s historical theatre district. The performances came after a 2-week script and music development workshop at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annamakerig, Ireland, in July 2013, and a 5-week incubation period at ArtsEmerson from late-August through the end of September. Each presentation of the production in Boston was opened up to the local community and talkbacks were held after each performance with audiences composed of students, local members of the community working on social justice issues, members of the Irish-American community, and many others. In the discussions following these productions, what surfaced was not only a sense of shared concern of what is lacking between generations but a parallel shared history of North Ireland’s conflict with that of the 1976 busing conflict in Boston itself. To support the music of the production, we enlisted students from the Berklee School of Music to perform with our cast on-stage. We filmed throughout our final week in Boston and are currently editing a short film on the project that we hope to share with all of you in 2014. 

Stay tuned to our website and future newsletters for updates on performances and future tour destinations.   If you have the time, check out this ten-minute film we shot while working with young children in Belfast from both sides of the divide: http://vimeo.com/49385225


In November of 2013, we took the first step towards developing an original theatre production in Canada that would be created by a cast of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal actors, storytellers, and musicians and a group of local mentors, including “Elders”, to the project. To this end, with lead support from the J.W. McConnell Foundation and the Counselling Foundation of Canada, in collaboration with The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples, we brought together a group of stakeholders that included indigenous artists from across the breath of Canada, NGO leaders involved in formal healing and reconciliation efforts, youth, Elders, and philanthropic foundations, as well as performing artists and storytellers.  Over two days in Winnipeg, we shared approaches and exchanged ideas on how a GAC production in Canada could extend the work already being done; become part of the legacy of Canada’s own Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and how we might use our global experience to create a national touring production built around the multiple truths, languages and cultures that both divide and strengthen collective consciousness in Canada today. We are working toward building a consortium of Canadian foundations to support this large project over the next three years.


Global Arts Corps, in collaboration with master teachers of the Arthur Lessac Institute of Voice and Speech, presented a ten-day workshop in South Africa, which included students and teachers from local South African townships, three actors from our Northern Irish company, former cast members of the Truth in Translation company of South Africa, and special invited artists from the United States. The workshop was a tremendous success, and we look forward to incorporating teachings from the Lessac Institute in our future productions and to organization future workshops.


The first international gathering of Global Arts Corps artists and supporters from eight countries around the world

In July 2012, Global Arts Corps brought together actors from Albania, Serbia, Bosnia, South Africa, France, the USA, Kosovo, and Northern Ireland/the North of Ireland to participate in a 2-day workshop in Prizren, Kosovo. Over the two days, we shared our storytelling and ensemble-building exercises and discussed the future of applied theatre in the area of conflict resolution, identity, and the use of conflict transformation to prepare for the future. We worked with simultaneous translators throughout the discussions and brought shared a rough cut of Truth in Translation with audience members from eight different cultures. This event was tremendously exciting for us, as it constituted the first of what we hope will be many more such gatherings of Global Arts Corps artists across borders. Following the workshop, we were able to bring three of our cast members from our Northern Ireland/the North of Ireland cast to South Africa for the work described above, and we have just finalized plans to bring one of the Albanian actors who joined us in Kosovo with us to work with the Phare Ponleu Selpak in February, along with members of our South African cast.


In February 2013, we will be traveling with three members of our Truth in Translation cast and one actor from our Kosovo project to Battambang, Cambodia, where we will be conducting our second workshop with the youth of the Phare Ponleu Selpak (“the brightness of art”)—the Cambodian Arts School that provides circus and related arts training to orphans and destitute, impoverished children.

Please take a look at our initial theatrical workshop with the young circus students and performers at Phare and witness their extraordinary potential in this short piece of film:

https://vimeo.com/62121947 (password: GAC)

The touring circus/theatre production is tentatively called “Landmines”. It will explore the legacy of the Khmer Rouge regime by examining the silence that lingers between generations.  In Cambodia, as in many countries emerging from genocide, violence and conflict, communication between generations tends to be avoided. Out of feelings of shame, guilt and a desire to “move on”, Cambodia’s troublesome past has been swept under a rug of discarded memories and untold stories, resulting in an entire generation of young people who have little sense of identity and an overbearing sense of hopelessness and isolation. The working title of the piece comes from the landmines that still litter the Cambodian landscape, waiting to detonate under the feet of unsuspecting passersby – an event that happens regularly.  But in this production, we are focusing on the emotional, historical and inter-generational “landmines” and the psychological consequences of leaving them buried for the current and future generations.


In the spring of 2013, we completed our documentary feature film on the South African project Truth in Translation. Since its completion, the film has been shown in private and educational screenings in cities around the world, including:

  • Berlin (DNA Gallery, in coordination with the exhibition “SEE New Perspectives: from Balkan photographers)
  • Munich (Robert Bosch Stiftung Annual Forum)
  • Kabul (Afghanistan Center at Kabul University, as part of the Transitional Justice, Reconciliation, and Peace International Seminar – Nick Boraine flew to Kabul at their invitation and participated in the four day conference))
  • Boston (Paramount Theatre, as part of our collaboration with ArtsEmerson while incubating the NI production)
  • Atlanta (Carter Center)
  • New York (Columbia University, Institute for the Study of Human Rights)
  • Winnipeg (Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, as part of our stakeholders conference)
  • Soweto (Wits University)
  • Paris (Le Laboratoire arts and design center, sister cultural center to The Laboratory at Harvard University)

2014 will see a number of screenings of Truth in Translation in New York, Washington DC and elsewhere. We’ve also submitted the film to festivals throughout the world and are waiting on feedback… watch out for newsletters and blog posts with outdates on upcoming screenings in your area!


A search has begun to bring into the Global Arts Corps College interns to work closely with Sarah Case, our current Development and Program Manager. If you or anyone you know is interested, please contact us at info@globalartscorps.org. We will be posting additional information on the position on our website in the coming weeks.


A Global Thumbs-Up in Germany!

The screening of a first locked cut of our documentary film, Truth In Translation in Germany, March 2013, marked the beginning of the end of an extensive, but exhilarating editing process. At the Robert Bosch Stiftung’s Annual Forum just outside of Munich, the film was screened to an audience of the foundation’s alumni, world economists and policy leaders. The Robert Bosch Stiftung partly funded the Balkans tour of the Truth In Translation stage production as well as the post-production of this documentary film. This pre-screening had the surprising effect of creating new interest to bring about a revival of the original stage production to play in Germany and other countries in 2014. We are now exploring that possibility and are in discussions about maximizing such a revival to also tour the US and Canada.

Furthermore, the foundation invited GAC to present an added screening of the film at the DNA Galerie in Berlin. There the screening formed part of the framework program of the traveling exhibition SEE New Perspectives: from Balkan Photographers; a joint project of World Press Photo and the Robert Bosch Stiftung, showing twenty photo stories of fifteen different photographers from South-Eastern Europe. Global Arts Corps’ Truth In Translation documentary film was purposefully brought into the photo exhibition to inspire dialogue around the different approaches of dealing with the past in post-conflict regions. The event enjoyed thriving attendance and received overwhelming responses.

Truth In Translation, The Documentary Film

Can you teach me about Pol Pot?

Thembi and Sibu from the Truth in Translation cast with the students at Phare Ponleu Selpak.

Jackie, Nick, and I have just returned from Battambang, Cambodia, where we were invited by an extraordinary collective of artists, themselves former child war orphans, who take care of at-risk kids between the ages of 6 and 23. The village of artists is called Phare Ponleu Selpak (The Brightness of Arts). It is a place of hope. The students we worked with are part of the Phare Ponleu Selpak and have been professionally trained as circus performers.

These children are storytellers; their language is circus. To work with them, we invited Andrew Buckland, Thembi Mtshali-Jones, and Sibu Gcilitshana from the Truth in Translation cast to join us. We were there to teach them acting and to create a story about their recent perceived and imagined history. We were invited because we had experienced such a journey personally and felt we could help these young performers probe into places where, at the moment they are hesitant to go and where their teachers, quite reasonably, might be hesitant to take them.

So all of us were searching for a theme, a question that had to be asked to create this production.

When we started our workshop a young boy asked, “Could you please teach me about Pol Pot?” I think he knew about Pol Pot. Why would he ask this question of a foreigner? Is it because he feels like the story of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge should be clearer in his mind? Is it because of what he’s heard, what he’s pieced together from his elders’ whispers and off-hand references that never made any real sense (eat your rice…we died for that rice)? Is it because these kids feel a kind of shame that he doesn’t understand? Or is it that Pol Pot just wouldn’t make sense to a kid? Continue reading

Global Arts Corps Ongoing Projects

Nick Boraine and Michael Lessac and Truth in Translation cast member Andrew Buckland (far right) working with the students of the Phare circus group in Cambodia

As we move closer to the end of 2012, Global Arts Corps would like to share with you some updates on all of our current projects.

Michael, Jackie, and Nick Boraine, (who came on this year as Michael’s Associate Artistic Director), are currently in Battambang, Cambodia, where they are doing the initial work on a project with Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus (www.phareps.org). Phare is no ordinary circus. It was started by 8 young people who came back to Cambodia from a refugee camp in 1994. They share our vision that art can be an instrument for human development and social change, and they have offered children a way out of poverty. We will be making a joint production over the next 3 years.

In addition, we have been invited to participate in workshops with young people from Youth for Peace (www.yfpcambodia.org) as part of the joint grant we received along with Sites of Conscience (www.sitesofconscience.org) from the Fetzer Foundation. Sites of Conscience use the past to engage people in making a difference in the future…they see Global Arts Corps as a traveling site of conscience.

We are very excited to announce that after a difficult start, we have re-grouped and are close to getting our next production on the boards with a wonderful team of NI talent. We are currently raising funds for the completion of this important project, and have invitations in Dallas and possibly Boston and London to finish the development if we can raise those funds. We are in discussion with a Canadian foundation that is interested in Truth Commissions because of the indigenous issues in Canada. Because there is a large Irish community in Montreal, we have been asked to explore using the Irish production in that pursuit.

Work with children: We feel the work in Northern Ireland has been important in many ways. In addition to our work on the current production, we have been doing, and will continue to do, outreach and sustainability work there with local Protestant and Catholic young people who are part of a group called the Talent Tribe. These children are from the most difficult areas of Belfast and are learning life skills through the arts in addition to the other skills the arts give them. Last June, while we were in Belfast working with our professional NI company, we spent another 3 days with the Talent Tribe and made the following 10-minute video of our work with them (https://vimeo.com/49385225). Some of the actors from our company joined us the last day so you will meet a few of them also. Our work in Northern Ireland has been generously funded by the Embrey Family Foundation. Continue reading