September 5, 2016
Washington, D.C. — The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics (the Lab), based at Georgetown University, is pleased to announce that it now will be joining GU’s Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS). A joint initiative of SFS and the Theater and Performance Studies Program, the Lab aims to humanize global politics through the power of performance.
The integration of the Lab, with its unique interdisciplinary approach, into the School of Foreign Service, the oldest school of international affairs in the United States, represents a reclaiming of performance into the SFS’s mission and identity. From the early days of the SFS’ history, performance and culture were seen as essential elements of building the foundation of peace and security.
As it approaches its centennial in 2019, the SFS is re-examining and re-affirming its core mission of “peace through understanding.” Incorporating the Lab will open up new opportunities for the School of Foreign Service, the larger Georgetown community, and the Lab’s global audience to gain a deeper, more empathic understanding of today’s international challenges, and to tackle their complexities.
“We think it is an absolutely critical part of our mission, as a Jesuit institution, to reach out to those boundaries, to reach out to those borders, and to see the world from the periphery through the power of performance, through the power of narrative, through the power of storytelling,” says Joel Hellman, Dean of the School of Foreign Service.
“Theater isn’t good at everything, but it can be spectacularly good at countering polarization through the empathy it enables in a live communal setting and through its capacity to humanize others,” says Lab Co-Founding Director Derek Goldman. “We feel profound affinity with Dean Hellman’s vision for the SFS, one that embraces the power of storytelling and the arts as a humanizing force in global politics. The Lab’s new home promises to add to the depth and reach of our interdisciplinary work, as well as to strengthen our collaborative engagement with communities on campus, throughout the DC region, and around the world.”
“Artists hold up a mirror to society and politics, and so provide different perspectives from the policy focus that dominates Washington,” adds Co-Founding Director Ambassador Cynthia Schneider. “We look forward to integrating the unheard, on-the-ground voices from the Lab’s programs into the rigorous foreign policy analysis that characterizes the School of Foreign Service.”
The Lab recently completed its Myriad Voices Festival, two years of programming focused on increasing understanding of Muslim majority communities, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation through APAP’s “Building Bridges” program. Highlights included Voices Unheard: the Syria: Trojan Women Summit, Amrika Chalo, a satire on US-Pakistan relations with Ajoka Theatre, Pakistan’s leading theater company, and Noura, Heather Raffo’s Arab-American adaption of A Doll’s House. Among its other projects, the Lab is continuing to develop My Report to the World, an original production about renowned Holocaust witness and long-time Georgetown professor Jan Karski, featuring Academy Award nominated actor David Strathairn, and has commissioned The 272, a new play which engages the complex and difficult history around the legacy of slavery at Georgetown from award-winning African-American playwright, Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm.
The Lab also has numerous partnerships that position it to play a central role in the globalization of US theater. Specifically, the Lab has partnered with Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theater, to launch the Global Theater Initiative (GTI). GTI recently hosted a major Global Pre-Conference Finding Home: Migration, Exile and Belonging with participating artists from more than 20 countries at the TCG National Conference in Washington, DC.
After four years of development and successful programming, the Lab has become a center of learning, practice, policy, and performance that has a transformative impact on students and practitioners of international affairs, and of global theater and performance.