At the end of this week, Theater Alliance staff and affiliated artists will fly to Kolkata, India, where they will lead an international Arts Envoy in partnership with India-based NGO Contact Base and the U.S. Department of State. Working with 15 artists from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and the United States, the group will collaborate to develop and devise a new play that engages communities in celebrating diversity and fostering equity, inclusion, and accessibility on the global stage.
After their residency at the American Center in Kolkata, artists will tour the newly developed play A Global I.D.E.A to Siliguri, Kalimpong, and Darjeeling, performing and facilitating meaningful dialogue within varied communities and populations and digitizing their work. Throughout the tour, the Arts Envoy will strategize ways that art can more impactfully inspire communities to engage in conversations about diversity globally.
Led by Theater Alliance’s Producing Artistic Director Raymond O. Caldwell, the Arts Envoy includes lead artists Johamy Morales (Director of Education, Seattle Children’s Theatre) and Ariel Warmflash (Community Programs Director, The In[heir]itance Project). They bring with them a group of Theater Alliance’s young artists, including Olivia Dorsey, Ezinne Elele, Cristina Ibarra, Alissa Klusky, and Kayla Warren.
“We exist at a moment in the U.S. when we are seemingly asking deep questions around inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. Simultaneously, the pandemic has forced us to see how deeply interconnected we truly are. It’s a powerful and unique opportunity to be entrusted by the U.S. Department of State to engage artists from around the world in the most vital conversations of our time, to make art, and to share that work on the global stage,” said Caldwell. “We at Theater Alliance are ecstatic to adapt what we do in Washington, DC and share our process of new play development and community driven dialogue through art with the world.”
Originally slated for spring of 2020, the Envoy has developed and created a series of digital programming in the past three years, but this will be the first in-person program since 2019.
“As we emerge from the global pandemic, grappling with unprecedented challenges more than ever, we need to develop understanding and empathy across diverse sectors,” said Adrian Pratt, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Consulate General Kolkata. “We strongly believe the arts are critical to bringing people together from diverse disciplines and cultural perspectives to foster collaboration, build literacies, and bridge divides.”
“We are thrilled to be able to be in community with participants live and in-person,” said Caldwell.
Programming and content from the Arts Envoy to India will be released on Theater Alliance’s social media.
ABOUT THE LEAD TEACHING ARTISTS
Born in Wiesbaden, Germany and raised all over the world, Raymond O. Caldwell (he/him) is an award-winning director and producer, as well as the Producing Artistic Director of Theater Alliance. He has directed for Round House, Imagination Stage, Mosaic Theater, The Kennedy Center, National Players, Olney Theatre Center, Solas Nua, CulturalDC, and the Hegira. Prior to leading Theater Alliance, he was a faculty member and resident director in Howard University’s Department of Theatre Arts for six years, and spent six seasons as the Community Engagement Partnership Manager at Arena Stage. He is committed to using theatre as a tool to transform communities, and has worked with a number of nonprofits and NGOs throughout the world. In July 2019—in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and NGOs based in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal—he developed theater with artists and activists to promote peace and counter violent extremism. He has done similar work throughout the U.S., India, Ukraine, and Croatia. MFA, Acting/New Play Development: The Ohio State University; BFA, Acting: University of Florida. www.raymondocaldwell.com
Johamy Morales (she/her) holds an MFA in acting from The Ohio State University, with a specialization in outreach and devising new work, and a BA in Theatre from San Diego State University. Johamy currently serves as the Director of Education at Seattle Children’s Theatre (SCT) and as a Trustee for Theatre Communication Group (TCG). Johamy has served on the theater panel for Colorado Creative Industries, TCG’s Rising Leaders of Color, Creede Pride Committee and Theater for Young Audiences/USA webinar series. Prior to working with SCT, Johamy served as the Education Director for Creede Repertory Theatre in Creede, Colorado and directed the Comparative Arts Department and the Junior Musical Theatre Program at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen, Michigan. Johamy has worked with Arena Stage in Washington D.C. and the La Jolla Playhouse through their education programs as a teaching artist. In February of 2017, Johamy collaborated with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Embassy & Consulate, and several NGOs to promote awareness of domestic and gender violence in Kolkata and Ranchi, India. As an educator, artist, and director Johamy has worked with various schools and nonprofit organizations both nationally and internationally including Hope College, Fort Lewis College, University of San Diego, Esperanza Charter School, Wexner Center, Dennos Museum, Students in Transition Empowerment Program, Traverse City Continuation School, Blackbird Arts and Columbus Refugee & Immigration Services.
Ariel Warmflash (she/her) is a theater artist, activist, and educator based in Philadelphia, PA. She is deeply committed to using theater as a platform to highlight and connect universal human narratives and believes that everyone has a story to share. Ari is the Community Programs Director for The In[heir]itance Project, a community-driven devised theater company where she develops creative and community programming in cities around the US. With the In[HEIR]itance Project Ari finds herself at the intersection of her most avid passions; storytelling, community-building, and justice work. She also works and travels as a consultant and facilitator for theatrical workshops, storytelling seminars, leadership trainings, and team-building retreats for groups of all ages. As Teaching Artist, Ariel has worked with the Creative Arts Team and Opening Act to develop original plays with students in NYC Public Schools based on their lives and experiences. While in NYC, she was also a co-creator of The Jewish Femme & Female Theater Project, an artistic exploration of gender and identity through theater and creative reflection. While in DC, Ariel spent four years in the Community Engagement Department at Arena Stage devising original plays with The Voices of Now Program, as well as traveling with the State Department in order to create original plays with participants internationally in India and Croatia. Ariel holds a master’s degree in Applied Theatre from The CUNY School of Professional Studies and dual bachelor’s degrees in Theater and Dramatic Literature from The George Washington University.
ABOUT THE PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS
American Center Kolkata, a cultural center managed by the U.S. Consulate, presents exciting educational and cultural programs and exchanges for the youth of India. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and Consulates in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai sponsor a variety of international exchange programs each year, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).
The Arts Envoy Program engages American artists and arts professionals in cultural exchange programs and shares the best of the U.S. arts community with the world to foster cross-cultural understanding and collaboration, to demonstrate shared values and aspirations, and to address foreign policy themes and objectives. American arts professionals—including performing artists, visual artists, poets, playwrights, chefs, dancers, theatrical and film directors, curators, and others—travel overseas to conduct workshops, give performances, and mentor young people. U.S. artists also engage online through virtual programs that often allow for greater reach and longer-term connections. Programs connect with international publics seeking to interact and connect with American arts professionals.
Contact Base (www.banglanatak.com) is a social enterprise working for inclusive and sustainable development across India and South Asia, using culture-based approaches, for the past two decades. They work for protection and promotion of the rights of women, children, and indigenous communities. They specialize in Communication for Development by using theater and developing social and creative entrepreneurship.
ABOUT THEATER ALLIANCE
Theater Alliance develops, produces, and presents socially conscious, thought-provoking work that fully engages our community in active dialogue. As the resident theater company of the Anacostia Playhouse since 2013, Theater Alliance is proud to produce professional, award-winning work in Anacostia. Through our work, Theater Alliance hopes to create an audience laboratory where the myriad perspectives of DC are face-to-face, confronting issues and tackling difficult questions that affect our diverse community.
Locally, Theater Alliance has twice been a finalist for the Mayor’s Arts Award; featured in the Greater Washington Catalogue for Philanthropy; received the Capitol Hill Community Foundation’s Keller Award for making significant, ongoing contributions to the life of the community; and awarded the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ UPSTART Grant for capacity building. Nationally, we have received the American Theatre Wing’s National Theater Company Grant as well as became a member of Theatre Communications Group and the National New Play Network. Theater Alliance has received 95 Helen Hayes Award Nominations and 22 Helen Hayes Awards.