Voices of Now
Voices of Now (VON) is a program that devises autobiographical plays with ensembles of middle school, high school and adult artists. VON plays are fast-paced, collaboratively written physical theater pieces that pose challenging social questions relevant to the artists and their communities. The plays investigate those questions through poetry, movement and the recounting of the artists’ personal stories.
Originally created to work with one local middle school, the program has expanded to serve hundreds of students in the D.C.-Metro area and beyond. One of the primary goals of the program is to create positive change within the artists’ communities by engaging in dialogue centered on young people’s daily experiences of their world.
Each season, the Voices of Now ensembles present their original plays at the annual Voices of Now Festival in Arena Stage’s Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle.
Fairfax County Public School Ensembles
Jefferson Academy Ensemble (DCPS)
Wendt Center for Loss and Healing Ensemble
Voices of Now: Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina 2019
In partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb, Croatia and the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Arena Stage sent four Arena Stage Voices of Now devisers/directors to Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina for three weeks beginning January 26, 2019. The artists worked with three ensembles of young people, two in Croatia and one in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and through workshops and rehearsals, three original plays were created and performed by the ensembles.
Voices of Now: Croatia 2015
In September 2015, Arena Stage in partnership with the 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.
Voices of Now: Peru 2014
In June 2014, the United States Embassy in Lima, Peru invited two artist-educators from Arena Stage’s Community Engagement division to Lima to work with Esteras, a local theater company comprised of artists, educators and leaders committed to using art as a tool for human development and social transformation. Together, they formed Arena y Esteras and created the play La Solidaridad/Unity.
Voices of Now: India 2014
Following a successful partnership in 2012, the United States Department of State funded nine artist-educators from Arena Stage’s Community Engagement division in 2014 to return to India to create devised theater pieces with nearly 400 artists from diverse communities in the following cities: Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad.
Voices of Now: Croatia 2013
In partnership with the United States Department of State, Arena Stage sent four artist-educators to Zagreb, Croatia in December of 2013 to create an original, autobiographical play with 11 young adults with physical disabilities.
Voices of Now: India 2012
In 2012 the United States Department of State funded four artist-educators from Arena Stage’s Community Engagement division to travel to India to create devised theater pieces with diverse groups in four cities: Kolkata, Patna, New Delhi and Hyderabad. Using workshop activities and rehearsal methods used in Arena Stage’s Voices of Now program, artist-educators devised and directed plays exploring themes important to the ensemble of artists in each community.
Voices of Now workshops are available to middle school, high school and community groups of eight or more. Group leaders and performers can learn more by contacting Community Programs Manager Mauricio Pita at email@example.com at 202-600-4065.
Voices of Now is made possible by support from the Hattie M. Strong Foundation, Rockwell Collins, Friends of Southwest D.C., Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, Eileen Fisher, Raytheon, GEICO, the Weissberg Foundation and Wells Fargo & Company.
Arena Stage’s community engagement efforts are generously sponsored by AT&T; Exelon; Denie and Frank Weil; the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; Joanne Barker; the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities; The Coca-Cola Foundation; Arthur and Barbara Bushkin; Robert and Natalie Mandel Family Foundation; deLaski Family Foundation; Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.; JBG Smith; Alice Shaver Foundation; Hattie M. Strong Foundation; The Bay & Paul Foundations; Friends of Southwest D.C.; Exelon Corporation; Venable Foundation; Washington Nationals Dream Foundation; Weissberg Foundation; The Albert & Lillian Small Foundation; Eileen Fisher; Raytheon; GEICO; Wells Fargo & Company; Rockwell Collins; Edington, Peel & Associates; Foley & Lardner LLP; Jean Schiro-Zavela and Vance Zavela; Actors’ Equity Foundation; Theatre Forward; and Youth Activities Task Force (YATF) of the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly, Inc.