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Voices of Now

Voices of Now (VON) devises 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. 

 

Films

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

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. 

VON artists are uniquely qualified to create art that leads to productive inquiry while representing their authentic point of view. Access to over 200 VON artists allowed us to catalog the experiences of young people in a way that will speak to future generations. Together, we have created a time capsule that will reflect young people’s point of view and thoughts 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

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.

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  • 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.

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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

Sam G. Rose is the Lead Sponsor of Voice of Now.

Voices of Now is also made possible by support from the Hattie M. Strong Foundation, Collins Aerospace, Friends of Southwest D.C., the Weissberg Foundation. 

Arena Stage’s community engagement efforts are generously sponsored by Denie and Frank Weil; The Estate of Ms. Toni A. Ritzenberg; AT&T; Joanne Barker; the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities; Catherine and Chris Guttman-McCabe; Hattie M. Strong Foundation; Robert and Natalie Mandel Family Foundation; Floyd E. Davis Family Foundation; Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.; Alice Shaver Foundation; Theatre Forward; Collins Aerospace; England Family Foundation; Friends of Southwest D.C.; GEICO; JBG Smith; Wayne and Susan Jonas; Foley & Lardner LLP; Weissberg Foundation; Jean Schiro- Zavela and Vance Zavela; Actors’ Equity Foundation; and Youth Activities Task Force (YATF) of the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly, Inc.)