Voices of Now
Mauricio Pita, Community Programs Manager
VOICES OF NOW RESPONSE TO COVID-19
From the moment schools were canceled, we have worked to transition our rehearsals to a virtual format and restructure the program to meet the current circumstances. We were presented with some 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 have decided to make a film. In addition to traditional scripting, we will use video conferencing tools to create ensemble performances. We will also incorporate art forms that have never before been used in Voices of Now. This will allow us into the artists' lives in unprecedented ways. This project will explore the artist’s lives amidst the pandemic.
VON artists are uniquely qualified to create art that leads to productive inquiry while representing their authentic point of view. Access to over 120 VON artists allows us to catalog the experiences of young people in a way that will speak to future generations. Together, we will create a time capsule that will reflect young people’s point of view and thoughts during this historic time.
Through Voices of Now, Arena Stage provides an artistic home for ten ensembles of artists in middle school, high school, university, and beyond. Voices of Now artists devise autobiographical plays that are fast-paced, collaboratively written physical theater pieces that pose challenging social questions relevant to the artists and their communities.
Our Voices of Now ensembles have gone digital, building art and creating a time capsule that will speak to this moment in time. This video is one of the pieces created by the Mentor Ensemble.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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, Friends of Southwest DC, Raytheon, GEICO, the Weissberg Foundation and Wells Fargo & Company.
Arena Stage’s community engagement efforts are generously sponsored by Denie and Frank Weil; AT&T; The Coca-Cola Foundation; the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; Joanne Barker; the deLaski Family Foundation; the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities; Arthur and Barbara Bushkin; Hattie M. Strong Foundation; Robert and Natalie Mandel Family Foundation; Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.; Exelon Corporation; Alice Shaver Foundation; Theatre Forward; Collins Aerospace; Edington, Peel & Associates; Friends of Southwest D.C.; GEICO; JBG Smith; Wayne and Susan Jonas; Venable Foundation; Washington Nationals Dream Foundation; Wells Fargo & Company; Foley & Lardner LLP; Weissberg Foundation in memory of Wallace Kent Babington; The Albert & Lillian Small Foundation; Jean Schiro- Zavela and Vance Zavela; Actors’ Equity Foundation; and Youth Activities Task Force (YATF) of the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly, Inc.