November 12, 2018



Contact: Teddy Rodger

Communications and Global Connectivity Manager, The Lab




Washington, DC — Between March and May of 2019, The Lab will launch CrossCurrents, a city-wide biennial festival that highlights innovative artists who are harnessing the power of performance to humanize global politics. The festival will feature dynamic, socially-engaged performances from around the world and will engage conversations around critical topics like the global refugee crisis, climate change, and the rise of hate and polarization.

Throughout the three months of CrossCurrents, The Lab will present several signature productions. Among these will be Falling Outa multimedia response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster by Phantom Limb, presented in partnership with the Kennedy Center; Republics of Imagination, a World Theatre Day event with best-selling author Azar Nafisi (Reading Lolita in Tehran) exploring the enduring value of literature in dark political times; and Renegade Theatre of Nigeria’s The Chibok Girls: Our Story about the 276 girls who were abducted by Boko Haram. CrossCurrents will also feature a residency with artists from nine countries in partnership with Embassies and cultural institution with the European Union National Institutes for Culture, and will offer opportunities to engage with members of the Lab Fellows Program.

“At a time when the world seems broken to so many across the globe, CrossCurrents aims to highlight the innovative work done by performing artists around the world to foster empathy and understanding,” says Derek Goldman, Co-Director of The Lab. “These inspiring examples offer innovative models of how performance is working to confront and to counter burning problems that may be out of the reach of traditional policy approaches.”

Central to the inaugural year of CrossCurrents will be a multi-day cultural exchange entitled The Gathering. From May 8-11, The Lab will bring together visionary artists from around the world whose work exemplifies ways that performance is making a transformative impact on critical global challenges, ranging from migration and refugee issues to climate change to political polarization to freedom of expression to the role of the arts on health and well-being. Goldman adds, “The Gathering builds on the convenings, pre-conferences, and forums The Lab has hosted throughout our history. Visionary artists will be joined by thought-leaders, policymakers, activists, scholars, and the next generation of change-makers for inspiring productions, vibrant discussions, pop-up performances, forums, and workshops.”

Ambassador Cynthia Schneider, Co-Director of The Lab, adds, “Difficult times produce great art. Artists have risen to the challenge in these times of division. Their narratives bring grassroots voices, such as those of the Chibok girls, to life in compelling narratives. CrossCurrents will leverage the power of live performances to engage critical challenges and to provoke transdisciplinary discussions between artists, policymakers, activists, and scholars. This type of exchange is often the first step in bringing culture into the practice of international affairs and an effective way for policy makers to connect with stories they may not know.”

More events, discussions, forums, readings, and pop-up performances will be announced in the coming months—many of which will be co-hosted with members of our expansive group of partners.

“The Lab is deeply committed to creating substantive, dynamic partnerships that expand beyond the lifespan of individual projects,” explains Jojo Ruf, Managing Director of The Lab. “We have carried that ethos into the planning of CrossCurrents, which will benefit from expansive partnerships with theaters, embassies, museums, and policy organizations to produce a diverse range of discussions, workshops, residencies, and performances across numerous venues.”

To date, our CrossCurrents collaborators include Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, the British Council, Cambodia Living Arts, Edinburgh International Culture Summit, EUNIC, Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler, the Goethe-Institut, Imagination Stage, Mosaic Theater Company, Olney Theatre Center, The Romanian Cultural Institute, Round House Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Theater J, Woolly Mammoth, as well as the Embassies of Austria, Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Sweden.

The CrossCurrents Festival is supported in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

For more information on CrossCurrents, visit


About The Lab:

The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics (The Lab) harnesses the power of performance to humanize global politics. Housed in Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, The Lab has emerged as a leader, widely recognized as unique for its pioneering interdisciplinary approaches integrating the performing arts and international relations. The Lab creates and presents innovative high quality work from around the world that is at the intersection of politics and performance. Our signature approach raises voices rarely heard in Washington, DC through compelling, authentic narratives, and engages policymakers, as well as artists, students, and wider audiences in forums that cast critical issues in a new light.