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Voices of Now

Voices of Now (VON) creates autobiographical plays and films with ensembles of middle-school, high-school, and adult artists both locally and internationally.

Voices of Now plays/films are fast paced, collaboratively written, physical pieces that pose significant social questions relevant to the ensemble of artists and their communities. A primary goal of Voices of Now is to create positive change within the artists’ communities by engaging in dialogue centered on the unique life experience of each ensemble member.

2022 Voices of Now Festival

A Presentation From Arena Stage’s Community Engagement Department
May 18-20, 2022

Join us for three nights of new plays and short films written and performed by nine ensembles comprising youth and adults from the D.C. Metro area. Artists, ranging in age from 11 to 38, will raise important questions about their communities through an evening of original, autobiographical theater and cinema.

Wednesday, May 18 — 7:30 p.m.

  • Life Cycle by the Robinson Ensemble
  • Safeguard by the Jefferson Ensemble
  • Face-Off by the Pre-Professional Ensemble
  • Headspace by the Mentor Ensemble

 DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE PROGRAM

Thursday, May 19 — 7:30 p.m.

  • Face Value by the Mead Ensemble
  • Ground Control by the Holmes Ensemble
  • Moving Picture by the Key Ensemble
  • Time Stamp by the Wendt Center Ensemble

 DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE PROGRAM

Friday, May 20 — 7:30 p.m.

  • Face Value by the Mead Ensemble
  • Shapeshifter by the Kilmer Ensemble
  • Face-Off by the Pre-Professional Ensemble
  • Headspace by the Mentor Ensemble

 DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE PROGRAM

All performances will be held in the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. 

Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination is required for audience members ages 12 and up. Proof of negative test is required for unvaccinated children 11 and under. For more information, read our full health and safety policy.

Admission is FREE, but reservations are required.

Reserve free Tickets

You can also call the Arena Stage Sales Office at 202-488-3300 (Tuesday – Sunday, 12 p.m. – 8 p.m) to reserve tickets.

Voices of Now is made possible by support from the Hattie M. Strong FoundationGlobal Medical REIT, Weissberg Foundation, Lois & Richard England Family Foundation and Friends of Southwest D.C.

 

Press Release

May
17
2022
Voices of Now Festival Returns In-Person

Films

From the moment schools were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked to transition our rehearsals to a virtual format and restructure Voices of Now (VON) to meet current needs. We were presented with multiple challenges: how do we create ensemble-based theater with artists who are not in the same room? Working virtually, is it possible to maintain the aesthetic of a VON play which is typically highly choreographed? How will the work be performed? Who will it be performed for? Will they watch it?

With these questions in mind, we decided to focus our efforts on creating films that captured the experiences of the Voices of Now artists in real-time. In addition to traditional scripting, we used electronic devices such as smart phones and video conferencing tools, as well as additional art forms such as animation, illustration and music production to respond to the pandemic as it unfolded.

Access to over 200 VON artists allowed us to catalog the experiences of young people in a way that will speak to future generations, and by a cohort of artists who are uniquely qualified to create art that fosters productive inquiry while representing their authentic point of view. Together, we have created time capsules that reflect how young people think, observe and behave during this historic time.

Inside Voices: a film by Arena Stage’s Voices of Now ensembles is a moving time capsule of the lives of over 120 student artists’ creating art through a devised theater process.
Arena Stage presents Waiting Room: A new film by Arena Stage’s Voices of Now Ensembles.

Mini Film Residencies

Through residencies and partnerships Voices of Now techniques have been used to create mini-films with a variety of organizations and participants.

THIS IS THE WAY In partnership with Miner Elementary School
SAFE HAVEN In partnership with Creative Arts & Performing Arts Center (CAPAC)
ROAD MAP In partnership with the Wendt Center for Loss & Healing
ESCAPE PLAN In partnership with the Wendt Center for Loss & Healing

VON Ensembles

D.C.-Metro Ensembles

Pre-Professional Ensemble

Fairfax County Public School Ensembles

Jefferson Academy Ensemble (DCPS)

Wendt Center for Loss and Healing Ensemble

Community Ensembles

Pre-Professional Ensemble

Mentor Ensemble 

Wendt Center for Loss and Healing Ensemble

 

School Ensembles

Fairfax County Public School Ensembles

Jefferson Middle School Academy Ensemble

International Ensembles

  • 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.

    Learn more

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

    Learn more

Get Involved

Voices of Now workshops and residencies are available to middle school, high school, community groups, educators and theater professionals. Learn more by contacting Community Programs Manager Mauricio Pita at mpita@arenastage.org

Sponsors

Voices of Now is made possible by support from the Hattie M. Strong FoundationGlobal Medical REIT, Weissberg Foundation, Lois & Richard England Family Foundation and Friends of Southwest D.C.

Arena Stage’s community engagement efforts are generously sponsored by Denie and Frank Weil; The Estate of Ms. Toni A. Ritzenberg; Hearst Foundations; AT&T; Joanne Barker; Comcast; Catherine and Chris Guttman-McCabe; National Endowment for the Arts; Global Medical REIT; Venable Foundation; Hattie M. Strong Foundation; Robert and Natalie Mandel Family Foundation; Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.; Alice Shaver Foundation; Theatre Forward; Lois & Richard England Family Foundation; Weissberg Foundation; Friends of Southwest D.C.; Wayne and Susan Jonas; Jean Shiro-Zavela and Vance Zavela; Actors’ Equity Foundation; and Youth Activities Task Force (YATF) of the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly, Inc.