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April 2021 message

April 2021 message

Dear Global Arts Corps Friends,

When we last wrote to you in December of 2019, we were poised to begin preparations for The Maelstrom Reckoning, a huge international theatrical probe into the past which was to incorporate the work of over 40 actors on one stage at one time. Its goal was to revisit the source of the epidemic of hatred to which the world was growing accustomed. As it became clear that pandemic restrictions were going to last a long while, we began to talk about how to adapt to the new set of realities we all continue to face. Having just completed the tour of our Cambodian production See You Yesterday, we were already in the frame of mind of a project driven completely by young adults. Instead of looking for the cause of present conflict, as GAC has traditionally functioned, we decided to go to the source of human potential and ask questions there.

How do children question each other given the world they are presently experiencing? How do their perspectives on the world around them inform their views about their own families, identities, and conflicts? These questions are at the core of GAC’s new set of theatre projects for the coming years.

We have created a short documentary directed and edited by longtime collaborator and GAC associate teaching artist Joel Plotch, as part of the Carnegie Hall Voices of Hope Festival (April 16-30), and viewable here.

The documentary Young Voices is a glimpse into what a few young people are thinking and feeling about the pandemic and its relation to the world as they see it. During the last few months we put this together as discovery research for our next major endeavor, a Children’s Radio Project.

April 2021 message

Over the course of the next 18 months, starting in the fall, we are planning to create a sample set of international children’s radio storytelling workshops as pilot programs in different regions around the world.This change in our focus—to create the opportunity for children and young adults to cross borders as young storytelling ensembles, creates a new lens for us through which we believe we can use the listening medium to intensify, clarify, and make instantly sustainable the best of the theatrical process we have created over the past 15 years.In South Africa, we began our work with a question: "can we forgive the past to survive the future?" While in Northern Ireland we faced the phenomenon of increasingly frequent youth suicides after the peace accord. And more recently, in Cambodia, we asked young circus performers to find a way to approach their elders who had lived a genocide they are loath to talk about.Times have changed; children all over the world are now being visited earlier and earlier in their lives by the hatreds that adults cannot let go of. What would be the impact if young people were given the opportunity to create and broadcast stories incorporating their dreams and ideas for the future? Left alone, and working with each other, what kind of civil society would they create? And what is the prophecy they want to project for themselves?

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One more bit of news: GAC is welcoming its newest board member, Sonny Chheng. A management consultant, former Deloitte executive and recent Ernst & Young partner with its People Advisory Services, Sonny fled the Khmer Rouge regime to the United States as a child. Over the past five years he has been a most valued consultant on the Cambodian production See You Yesterday as well as the documentary Landmines, which came out of it. We welcome Sonny with great pleasure and look forward to working with him in the coming years as we embark on this new path for GAC.

Best regards,

Michael Lessac
Jacqueline Lessac
Grant Rosenberg

Global Arts Corps