A life-changing theater, radio, and multimedia program that gives immigrant youth a chance to express their powerful stories.
Cross-Cultural Dialogue Through the Arts (CCDTA) and Transforming Trauma Into Art are programs that develop and create collaborations between disparate communities. (CCDTA) is a training and mentorship program for high school students to work under the direction of professional artists. Participating artists 2014-2015: Claire Lebowitz, Safia Elhillo, Geneviéve Beaudoin, Red Ukachukwu, Josh Henderson, Caridad De La Luz (La Bruja) Judith Sloan, Warren Lehrer. Founded by Judith Sloan, the program includes theatre artists, poets, singers, musicians, and writers who teach a variety of workshops. The program offers a unique hands-on opportunity for graduate and undergraduate college students to work in teams as mentors and performance collaborators with new immigrant teenagers through a multi-media arts and theatre project in partnership with the International High School at LaGuardia Community College in Queens. Students from 50 different countries, speaking almost as many languages and dialects, populate the international high school. A sister project to Crossing the BLVD, CCDTA is currently available to all International High School students and internships are available to all New York City area college students. The dialogue and writing classes culminate in EarSay’s public performances in the spring. College student interns receive training in theatre, writing, oral history, community organizing, interviewing techniques, performance and documentary art. High School students benefit from the mentorship process, developing their language and writing skills, co-creating and participating in live performances. This unique collaboration across cultures also gives immigrant teenagers exposure to the world of higher education which is often closed to them. Theatre exercises in improvisation, characterization, humor, storytelling, and conflict resolution are used to develop monologues and scenes. All participants form creative teams to produce and document the final performances and public dialogues. This program is directed by EarSay co-founder Judith Sloan and is born out of our partnership with the International High School at LaGuardia Community College where many teenagers have emigrated to the U.S. from war-zones and conflict-zones.
Through long-term, small group workshops, and individualized attention, students are able to develop their artistic voices and self-esteem. Young people who have little or no access to arts training are able to collaborate with professional actors, directors, image-makers and sound artists. These efforts culminate in final performances, radio pieces, and books that honor and share the students’ experiences. In the process of creation, students are able to improve their English language skills in reading, writing, and speaking.
The project grows out of our commitment to creating artistic works that evolve out of individual experience and community. In this case, the community is immigrant and refugee teenagers attending school in New York City. At a time of war, global tension, and polarization, our program encourages a depth of scholarship and storytelling that shapes the experience of the participants, giving them tools to make connections between cultures, shed light on the complexity and humanity of each individual, and deepen what it means to be part of a global community.
Among the exciting accomplishments of our program, 7 of our youth have received full scholarships to college; several have gone on to work with immigrant and human rights organizations; 2 of our graduates have received the highly competitive Gates Scholarship. Our youth performance have taken place at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, Joe’s Pub, The Public Theater, The New York Society for Ethical Culture, and New York University.
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To learn more about EarSay visit the EarSay.org website.
It costs $500 per student for a year. (That's ten $50 donations or five $100 donations or 20 $25 donations.)
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We need to raise $30,000 per year and have already received notice that we will be funded through the New York State Council on the Arts for 1/2 of the funding. Please help us match their grant.
EarSay engages professional artists and teaching artists in the workshops and public events, including musicians, actors, poets, singers, dancers, hip hop artists and sound engineers: Participating artists have included: Safia Elhillo, Bridget Kelso, Catherine Hanna, Touré "Southpaw" Harris, Frank London, Amy Ziff, MiWi La Lupa (Michael Williams), Sonny Singh, Frank London, A. Red Ukachuwu, Chen Lo, Ken White, Immortal Technique, Hasan Salaam, Jen Bleier, Laura Doggett, Elise Knudson and Claire Lebowitz. Interns have included Meera Al Sayegh and Nanci Tischler.
About YO MISS and our Youth Arts Education Program:
Ms. Sloan’s art and teaching cross-pollinate: She uses immigrant stories that she and her husband wrote about — dozens of them are included in a 2003 book, “Crossing the BLVD”—to demonstrate how to shape narrative and to get students talking about their lives. And the students flood her with new material. As she helps the students compose the performance, she is also coming full circle with a new work of her own. “Yo Miss! Teaching Inside the Cultural Divide,” which she performs with musical collaborators, re-enacts and riffs on her experiences teaching teenagers from myriad worlds: refugee camps, struggling neighborhoods, prisons. It is a performance about performances, a story containing many stories. And suddenly, “Yo Miss!” has another mission: To raise money to keep the story going. The New York Times, Anne Barnard
EarSay received partial funding for the program in 2012-2014 through the Department of Education, The New York State Council on the Arts, The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, and Viper Records.