Performance – Visual Art – History
Combating Racism – Anti-Semitism – Bullying
The Refugee Crisis
Aligned to Common Core Learning Standards-in school workshops
September-October 2019 Upstate, NY & February-April 2020, NYC
Due to the success of 73 workshops from 2015 – 2018 in the U.S. and over 77 workshops of The Legacy Project in the U.K., Germany, France and the U.S., Voice Theatre is creating new Legacy Project Workshops combating bullying, racism, anti-Semitism, define the meaning of home and examining the refugee crisis.
“Voice Theatre came to do a theater residency and students who were reluctant to read or write or take part in discussions suddenly became engaged. One student who had been hostile at best became a model student, showing a flair for improv. Another student wrote a full-length play; she became the first person in her family to graduate high school. These are only two examples of the many dramatic changes in my students, due to the Voice Theatre workshops.” – Bethany Goldpaugh, Kingston HS Teacher, Kingston, NY
The Legacy Project comprises 6 in-school sequential interactive workshops and a field trip to the play LEGACY followed by a post-performance workshop. American students and undocumented, unaccompanied, teen refugees from Central America connect with each other by writing and performing their personal stories of racism, bullying and refugee flight.
Creating a safe place and a bond of trust, we utilize improvisation, theatre games, creative writing, visual art and research materials. In creative writing workshops, refugee students share and write monologues revealing why they had to leave their homes; and U.S. students share and write monologues focusing on their experiences of being the victim of or witness to racism, anti-Semitism and bullying. Visual arts are implemented to further illustrate the students’ stories. Comparing past and present we touch upon the economic, cultural, political and historical factors that affected German teen refugees from 1933-1939. In the 6th in-school workshop, refugees travel to the school and both groups improvise, read and act out their monologues bringing an experiential performance component that opens hearts and develops empathy, compassion and understanding for “the other”. US and refugee students participate together in a 7th workshop taking place in the theatre after they see a student matinee of the play LEGACY. Voice Theatre ensemble members and students perform additional student monologues to the larger audience of students, teachers and social workers and share how the play’s themes and workshop explorations relate to their lives.
LEGACY is a play that unravels as a young American girl unearths the true story of her father’s cowardice and courage. Based on events from playwright Shauna Kanter’s life, this suspenseful story of refugees during 1939 in Germany is enhanced by our student stories of racism and refugee flight. The students’ stories are inserted into LEGACY, creating a bridge between past and present, further empowering our student authors and the audiences of their peers.
Because students have created and performed their own stories, The Legacy Project creates a path for students to tear down their walls of assumption and misinformation, and build bridges of acceptance. It is a space for them to celebrate the strengths of their differing cultures, languages and histories and to be united in a shared humanity.
In-School Workshop Synopsis
Introduction: Session I
In separate sessions, American and refugee students meet Voice Theatre’s teaching artists. The scope of the project is introduced and the themes of LEGACY – bullying, anti-Semitism, racism, the refugee crisis and “the other” – are explored.
Writing, Performance, Visual Art: Sessions II-VI
Teaching artists will implement creative writing, drawing, improvisation, role-playing and theatre games as students share, create improvisations and write monologues based on their own experiences related to refugee flight, racism, anti-Semitism and bullying. Students also examine what life was like for German teenagers from 1933-1939. Refugee students tell their stories of what life was before they left their country and why they had to leave their homes. American students write about their personal experiences of being the victim of, or witnessing racism and bullying. In workshop VI refugee students visit the American schools so all can share their stories.
Selected students are guided to create visual images in paint or pencil based on student monologues. Selected works are exhibited in the theatre lobby during LEGACY performances.
Performance & Post-Performance Workshop Session VII
All students attend a performance of LEGACY. Students participate in a post-performance workshop where their original monologues are read by themselves, fellow students and the actors of the Voice Theatre ensemble. Students and teachers complete questionnaires and in a feedback section we discuss how the play’s themes have influenced and changed their perceptions.
Schools that have participated in The Legacy Project
New York City:
Seward Park High School, 10th grade
Washington Irving High School, 12th grade
Bayard Ruston High School for the Humanities, 10th grade
Chelsea High School, 10th grade
University Neighborhood High School, 9th grade
Detroit Inner City:
Western International High School, 11th grade
Cass Technical High School, 11th grade
Mumford High School, 11th grade
North Farmington High School, 11th grade
Renaissance High School, 11th grade
Hartcliffe High School, Bristol, England, 10th grade
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Bristol, England, college level
City & Westminster College, London, England, college level
Middlesex University, Cockfosters, London, England, college level
Queen Margaret College, Edinburgh, Scotland, college level
Georges Lapierre High School, Bordeaux, 10th grade
Helena Lange Schule, Hannover, 11th grade
In 1995, in cooperation with The Bristol Old Vic Theatre, Bristol, UK Voice Theatre produced Legacy.
Due to the unique compatibility of the educational workshops and theatre performance, The Legacy Project was one out of five projects chosen from 358 submissions from the UK to be sponsored by the European Commission in The 1997 Year to Combat Racism. Invited by the Cultural Ministry of Hanover, (Kulturamt der Hannover), the Bordeaux-Bristol Association, The Resistance Museum, (Centre National Jean Moulin) and SOS-Racisme, LEGACY was presented and the integral educational workshops of The Legacy Project took place in Germany, France, in London at the Cockpit Theatre and then in New York City in 2003 under the title, The Gift. In NYC, we worked with five high schools implementing The Legacy Project. In 2011, LEGACY was produced at the Bermann Center for the Arts, West Bloomfield, MI. Voice Theatre conducted 36 workshops in 6 inner city Detroit high schools.
Lufthansa, The Acacia Foundation, Association of Jewish Refugees, Lord Ashdown Charitable Trust, Avon International Education, Andrew Balint Foundation, Bristol City Council, The British Council, (London, Koln, Berlin), D’Avigador Goldsmid Trusts, The European Commission, 45’ Aid Society, Greater Bristol Trust, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Kulturamt der Hannover, Stadtsparkasse Hannover, Kessler Foundation, Lex Foundation, Niedersachsische Sparkassenstiftung, 1970 Trust, Pollitzer Foundation, Harry Ree Foundation, Spielman Charitable Trust, City of Westminster Foundation. Michigan Council for the Arts, the Skillman Foundation, Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, the NYC Board of Education, The WAWA Foundation.