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Voices of now: Croatia 2015

In September 2015, Arena Stage in partnership U.S. Embassies in Zagreb, Croatia and Ljubljana, Slovenia, sent three Voices of Now (VON) teaching artists to Zagreb to work with high school and college-age youth from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia. The participants, known as the Voices of Now Youth 2 Youth Ensemble, created and performed the play Beneath the Surface at the Tresnja Theater in Zagreb on Friday, September 18, 2015.

Additionally, the Voices of Now teaching artists hosted a professional development workshop for local theater artists and teachers introducing participants to VON techniques that can be used in the classroom.

About the ensemble: The Voices of Now Youth 2 Youth ensemble was made up of 20 participants ages 17-28 that were selected by the U.S. Embassies in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia. The participants came from different ethnic and religous backgrounds.

About the play: Beneath the Surface explored moments when the participants have confronted barriers to understanding in their lives. Highly choreographed, and performed without any set or costumes, the play examined questions like “What determines a person’s value? Where does prejudice come from? How do we accept dark moments in the past and how do we talk about them?” A major discovery of the play was that understanding is not the same as agreement.

About the process:  Over the course of seven days, the ensemble created the play by applying writing, movement, discussion and visual arts techniques used as part of Arena Stage’s Voices of Now program.

“In our countries, tensions from the past are like magma bubbling underneath the surface. They're always there, but nobody acknowledges them. How should a community deal with the past?”– from Beneath the Surface by the Voices of Now Youth 2 Youth Ensemble
“I was born in the middle of a war. I don't have memories of that war, but I still see the consequences.”– from Beneath the Surface by the Voices of Now Youth 2 Youth Ensemble
“You don't need to understand someone to accept them. It makes it easier, but it is not necessary. Understanding is not the same as agreeing.”– from Beneath the Surface by the Voices of Now Youth 2 Youth Ensemble

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