Humanizing Politics Through Performance

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Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski

The world premiere of  Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski,  starring Oscar-nominated actor David Strathairn in a virtuoso solo performance, held spellbound  an audience of over 750 people, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and dignitaries and SFS alumni from around the world.  Directed by The Lab’s own Derek  Goldman, and co-written by Goldman and his former student Clark Young, the play tells the story of Jan Karski, the Polish World War II resistance-fighter, Holocaust witness, and late, beloved Georgetown Professor. The play began a world tour that was unfortunately interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Luckily, Emmy Award-winning documentary producer Eva Anisko fell in love with the project after seeing our London production. Through her superhuman efforts, our team was able to shoot REMEMBER THIS, a narrative feature film version of the production that has been accepted to major film festivals and will premiere in 2021.

As we move into 2021, big plans are in store for the film, the theatrical production, and the our new Bearing Witness course and educational platform.  Each of these three elements will combine to allow us to share Karski’s inspiring and relevant story of moral courage and the power of witness. Read more about Karski on the project page.

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Here I Am

“Our ancestors have waited patiently through centuries for us to come to the table of acknowledgement. Here I Am fulfills my desire to give voice to those families, including my own, and to our tenacity and strength as a people — to close the full circle where we began our American lives three centuries ago and where we are today.” –Mélisande Short-Colomb

Premiering Online in Conjunction with Emancipation Day the week of April 16, 2021

Preview: Tuesday, Apr 13 at 7:00pm EST
Thursday, Apr. 15 at 5:30 PM EST
Friday, Apr. 16 at 7:30 PM EST
Saturday, Apr. 17 at 3:00 PM EST

Mark your calendar and register for the Free online event at the Eventbrite: bit.ly/HereIAm21 

Performed by Mélisande Short-Colomb and Somi (Grammy Award nominated vocalist/musician)
Co-Created by Colomb in collaboration with Nikkole Salter (Obie Award winning playwright), Somi, and Derek Goldman
Multimedia Design by Jared Mezzocchi, with Jeremy Bennett
Stage Management and Research Dramaturgy by Michael Donnay
Produced in partnership with the GU Theater & Performance Studies Program
A native of New Orleans who began her studies at Georgetown in 2017 at the age of 63, Mélisande Short-Colomb is a direct descendant of Abraham Mahoney and Mary Ellen Queen who were among the 314 members of the group known today as the GU272, enslaved people owned and sold by the Maryland Jesuits in 1838 to rescue Georgetown University from insolvency and bankruptcy.  More than an autobiographical chronicle, this ritualistic experience weaves narrative, music, and imagery, inviting the audience on an experiential journey exploring Colomb’s loving and complicated relationship with the institution that enslaved her ancestors. Interrogating uncomfortable truths, rather than offering easy answers, HERE I AM challenges participants to bear witness and to reckon with their own histories, and to imagine the future of racial justice in America.
For more information, visit the Here I Am page.

 

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Meet our Current Cohort of Lab Fellows!

This 18-month global residency program, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, brings together exceptionally promising professionals (performers, producers, directors, writers, scholars, and activists) from around the world who embody the Lab’s mission of “harnessing the power of
performance to humanize global politics.”

Recently, members of the cohort wrote an article on “Undoing Post-colonial Structures in Theatre, Starting With Zoom Convenings” on the HowlRound website. They also have an ongoing “Lab Games” series featuring all the fellows!

Check out the full Lab Games playlist.

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Flash Acts

Flash Acts premiered in October and is still live on the Flash Acts website.

This one of a kind virtual performance festival brought together twenty brilliant playwrights from the US and Russia, all creating ten-minute plays that explore the timely and resonant theme of isolation in ways that span the geopolitical, psychological, spiritual, and intimately personal. The resulting forty virtual productions offer audiences a feast of theatrical innovation – bold, tender, funny, and moving.

Read about the performance in this Washington Post article.

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The Gathering from the CrossCurrents Festival Video Archive

The next  CrossCurrents festival will take place March- May, 2022!
In the next iteration of the festival, in addition to in-person programming, we look forward to embracing virtual elements in order to increase access to this special event!
As part of the inaugural CrossCurrents, a biennial festival that highlights innovative artists from around the world, The Lab presented The Gathering from Wednesday 8 May to Saturday 11 May 2019.
 This historic four-day event brought together more than 200 visionary artists from more than 40 countries to celebrate and highlight how their innovative work harnesses the power of performance to address the pressing challenges of our world.
In addition to the performances of The Chibok Girls: Our Story, a remarkable collection of other productions and performances ran in repertory throughout The Gathering.  Artists were joined by thought-leaders, policymakers, activists, scholars, and the next generation of change-makers.
The majority of The Gathering was live-streamed on the global commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv. 

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“Tennessee Williams would have smiled at the poetry unfolding outside the National Building Museum on Monday night...The tour is here via [The Lab], which has the great goal of giving international creative voices a platform in this fractious capital city. That’s a timely mission, and plainly this is a troupe and a show worth hearing."

The Washington Post

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"That is why I think this effort that The Lab is doing today is so critical...the power of performance, the power of storytelling, and the power of narrative, are absolutely essential. In my mind, they are some of the only things that can actually have an influence on the political dialogue in this very, very peculiar moment in the politics of the United States and Europe.”

— Dean of GU’s School of Foreign Service Joel Hellman in his opening remarks at the 2016 TCG Global Pre-Conference, Finding Home: Migration, Exile, and Belonging, at Georgetown University

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Heather Raffo in Noura

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"The Lab brings policy experts, employees from the State Department and embassies, American and global theater practitioners, students, and community members that can speak firsthand to the experiences you're depicting on stage all in the same room-commenting and asking questions of your piece. There is no place besides The Lab that can create a conversation on a play like this. It was invaluable."

— Think Tank member Heather Raffo on The Lab’s role in developing Noura.

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"Because ultimately when I dream forward, I see a world that fully utilizes the power of communal narrative to help re-humanize our families, our cities, our countries, and our world. But more importantly than that, theater ultimately re-humanizes the most powerful tool on the planet: the human heart."

Lab Think Tank member Kwame Kwei-Armah’s US World Theatre Day address

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In this time of increased polarization, division, conflict, and lack of understanding between peoples and cultures, the need to bridge differences and to understand each other in human terms is greater than ever before. Refugee and migration issues, environmental and climate challenges, widening disparities and the rise of racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and prejudice of all kinds, all present problems that challenge the reach of traditional policy approaches. The time is overdue to develop a more humanistic approach to political and international affairs, one grounded in empathy and a sense of our common humanity.