WITNESS: RESPONSIBILITY

WITNESS: RESPONSIBILITY
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Stacie Chaiken

Witness : Responsibility is an independent, artist-driven initiative created to actively support artistic response to catastrophic testimony and narratives related to trauma, and to present related works in mainstream venues to mass audiences.

Our own sense of impotence in the face of terrible things that happen—on the other side of the world, on the other side of town—makes it hard for us to engage. It is too painful, when we feel there is nothing we can do.

The premise of Witness : Responsibility is that artists are uniquely equipped to stand in witness to difficult narratives and bring forth stories with which a broad audience can engage.

Engagement begets awareness and agency.

Partnership with activist and educational organizations provides audiences with ways they can get involved, including lobbying for changes in policy, where appropriate.

Artists unlock empathy, which allows an audience to safely engage; the activists offer concrete ways to channel their engagement.

Writer-performer Stacie Chaiken conceived of Witness : Responsibility as the arts initiative for the Shoah Foundation, whose archive and mission have, in the past decade, expanded beyond the European Holocaust to other sites of past and continuing targeted killing, like Sudan, Rwanda, Cambodia, Serbia, etc.

Her experience as International Creative Director for Kwibuka, the twentieth Commemoration of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda led her to pursue and broaden the scope of the initiative, and include partnership with activist organizations who offer us—once we are awake—the opportunity to make a difference.

CURRENT PROJECTS

EDUCATIONAL

Participation in two post-performance panels for Mosaic Theatre‘s world premiere production of Unexplored Interior, Jay O. Sanders’s epic play about Rwanda in Washington, DC. She will talk about her work in Rwanda and Witness : Responsibility.

Ongoing workshops with a group of Change Makers from the New Ground : Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change, which offers a year-long fellowship to a mixed group of young professionals. This workshop is designed to help them craft and tell their stories about coming to know one another in a world which is dangerously polarized Muslim-Jewish, Muslim-Other. Their stories will be disseminated in live performances, podcasts, and in print.

Native Voices at the Autry: Ongoing solo performance workshop with a company of Native American theatre artists.

PERFORMANCE

Witness : Responsibility is partnering with Latino Theatre Company and Los Angeles Theatre Center to produce the world premiere of Stacie’s play The DIG : death, Genesis + the double helix.

The DIG gives us the opportunity to create a replicable program for partnership of performance with like-minded activist organization.

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