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Strengthening Youth Leadership

Transforms Communities
 

Are you First Generation?
Are you the first in your family to
Grow Up In This Country
Graduate High School
Go To College
Speak English
Be An Activist?
Be Openly LGBTQ+
Be Drug Free
Be Incarcerated
Be A Feminist
Question Your Faith
Break A Silence
Be An Artist
Be………

Are you First Generation?

First Generation brings together young adults ages 12-24 who identify as "first generation,” for intensive artistic training, leadership development, and inter-generational mentoring. Forming an artistic ensemble, members create original multi-lingual physical theater performances based on their conversations and discoveries.
First Generation members may be the first in their family to grow up in the United States, the first to speak English, to graduate high school, go to college, or many other firsts. Participants include youth recently arrived in this country and youth who are court-involved. First Generation Ensemble trains with professional artists, college, and graduate students. Community elders participate in our creative process by sharing their experiences and perspectives. We support each other, build on our strengths, cultivate ambition, and become leaders who build enduring, intercultural networks.

In First Generation, we talk about the complexity of embracing individuality while honoring one’s family and community cultures. The Ensemble creates compelling, high-quality performances that engage the public in dialog about critical social, cultural, and generational issues, such as how racism, economic oppression, bigotry, media, and violence can sever us from our cultural origins. Our performances also invite audiences to celebrate our connection and our full humanity through the arts. The work of First Generation is rooted in our belief that our cultural legacies and family histories are sources of strength as well as struggle, as we shape our own lives, our communities, and our futures.

Family and Community Celebrations
Several times a year First Gen hosts Family and Community Celebrations. They are wonderful Saturday afternoons of live music, dance, spoken word, poetry, theater and potluck meals. Family and Community Celebrations include performances by First Generation youth, family members, professional artists, and community members.

Adventures
First Generation youth attend theater and dance performances, cultural events and festivals in the Pioneer Valley, Vermont, Boston, New Haven and New York. We also climb mountains, pick apples and participate in leadership trainings!

First Generation is a partnership with the Teen Resource Project of The Care Center

 

CURRENT FIRST GENERATION PERFORMANCE

 Stand Tall Mi GenteStand Tall Mi Gente! 2019-2020

Stand Tall Mi Gente! is an uplifting performance about the importance of youth voices and the power of speaking out. The Holyoke-based ensemble created Stand Tall! to address social justice concerns through the lens of their own life experiences. Stand Tall! incorporates monologues, movement, storytelling, dance, poetry and drumming and touches upon identity, family struggle, hyper-masculinity, homophobia, and most importantly believing in one’s own voice.

For a list of upcoming performances CLICK HERE

 

PAST FIRST GENERATION PERFORMANCES

 tendernessT e n d e r n e s s 2016-2018

t e n d e r n e s s is a multi-lingual, physical theater piece that contrasts the dehumanization at the core of violence with the eternal power of human tenderness and connection. Inspired by events in Guinea, West Africa, Darfur, and the US, tenderness incorporates ensemble members’ experiences with violence, including war, street violence, police brutality, the school-to-prison pipeline, mass incarceration and human connection.

Tenderness incorporates movement, music and text in eight languages: Arabic, Mandingo, Kirundi, Haitian Creole, French, Spanish and English.

The authors and cast members originate from Haiti, Burundi/Rwanda, Guinea, South Sudan, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Tenderness is directed by Julie Lichtenberg with choreography support by Lesley Farlow. Iyawna Burnett, Sabrina Hamilton and Elsa Menendez consulted on the script. Sound design by Tony Silva and original music by Charles Neville.

 

 

 we must goFo n' ale (we must go) 2013-2014

Fo n' ale (we must go),  is a visual poem that embodies the melancholy of leaving. The piece incorporates dance, music, poetry, and seven languages: Kirundi, Nepali, Haitian Creole, Amharic, French, Spanish, and English.  Eight travelers originating from around the world have left their homelands for different reasons and find themselves traveling the same path. A waking dreamscape in which past, present, and future are interchangeable. Memories infuse their dreams, and time obscures the shape of memories.

Fo n' ale  suggests how there are moments in our lives when the impact of experience is crystalized, and carried forward in time with such vividness that the past becomes present, and continues to live within us.  These moments sustain as fiercely guarded memories, sources of power, as they shape and nourish identity, infusing all that we carry with us into the future.

The eight ensemble members, who currently live in Springfield, Massachusetts, originate from Nepal, Haiti, Burundi/Tanzania, Puerto Rico, Ethiopia and the United States.  Uwizeyimana Angelique, Iyawna Burnett, Benjamin “Bush” Christopher, Sosina Erkailo, Laeticia Israël Veronica Israël, Gita Koirala, Chiino Rios. Fo n’ ale is directed by Julie Lichtenberg and Lesley Farlow.

 

 

 ripple effectRipple Effect 2010-2011

Ripple Effect is based in the personal narratives of the First Generation Ensemble, a group of young adults living in Springfield, MA.

Ripple Effect transforms the stage into a meeting point for their diverse lives that span four languages, Kirundi, Nepali, English, and Spanish, and three continents. Through poetry, movement, monologue and storytelling, the audience is transported from Springfield, MA to a U.S. army base, through a refugee camp in Tanzania, to witness a Nepali family’s struggle for recognition. Ripple Effect is a powerfully-crafted means of sharing the strengths and struggles of the ensemble members’ journeys, families, communities, fantasy worlds, and dreams for the future.  

Over the one and a half hours, the Ripple Effect connects the lives of Springfield youth to global events, such as the genocide and child soldiers of Rwanda/Burundi, and ethnic cleansing in Bhutan. Ripple Effect also addresses local and international issues, such as, addiction, HIV, foster care, and homophobia. Ripple Effect was directed by Julie Lichtenberg, Lesley Farlow, Elsa Menendez and Julissa Rodriguez. 

 

Selected Performances 2000-2017
First Generation and Performance Project Ensembles

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

Augusta Savage Galley - New Africa House, UMASS

Hampshire College – 2015 Social Justice Institute, Fo n’ ale 2013, Ripple Effect 2011

Springfield College, 2006, 2011, 2013

Holyoke Community College

Amherst College - Ko Festival of Performance 2010, 2014

Springfield Technical Community College

Bowker Auditorium UMASS

Westfield University

American International College

Mount Holyoke

The Elms

Holyoke Community College

Trinity College, Hartford, CT

 

HIGH SCHOOLS AND MIDDLE SCHOOLS

Commerce High School

Renaissance High School

Central High School

Turners Falls High School

Northampton High School

Westfield Youth Service Center

Chestnut Academy

Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School

Peck Middle School

Upward Bound

Rebecca M Johnson School

Brattleboro High School, Brattleboro, VT

 

PROFESSIONAL THEATER FESTIVALS

Revolutions International Theater Festival, Albuquerque, NM - 2005, 2014, 2017

Ko Festival of Performance, Amherst, MA - 2011, 2012, 2016

 

THEATERS

Shea Theater, Greenfield, MA

City Stage, Springfield, MA

Academy of Music, Northampton, MA

Northampton Center For the Arts

Thornes APE 3rd Floor Performance Space, Northampton, MA

 

CONFERENCES AND SUMMITS

Evolve Without Borders: An Intergenerational Gathering of Global Theater Artists

6th International Digital Storytelling Conference, UMASS

Annual Healthy Men And Boys Summit, Holyoke Community College

Youth Leadership Forum “Healthy Men And Boys” Treehouse Community

Pa’Lante! A panel Presentation Celebrating Local Latina/o Activism- Amherst College

Basketball Hall of Fame, YES! Youth Conference

Wistariahurs Museum, Holyoke, MA (MASS Cultural Council Event)

 

COMMUNITY

New England Public Radio Springfield Grand Opening

Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival 2014, 2016

Flash Mob, 2014

Campaign Nonviolence 2014 - September 21st Street Performance, Springfield

Paul Robeson Social Justice Conference, Boston

Edwards Church Northampton

Unitarian Society, Amherst

Hampshire Jail And House Of Corrections

South Congregational Church

 

PRESENTATIONS AND WORKSHOPS

Springfield College Dance Department

The Care Center, Holyoke, MA

Upward Bound, Northfield Mount Hermon (2x)

Youth Action Coalition, Amherst

Springfield Public Library

Brattleboro Union High School, Brattleboro, VT

Our Place' Holyoke Shelter (with Paris)

Smith College

Hampshire College

University of New Mexico Theater Department

High Meadows Youth Facility, CT

Student Bridges of UMASS

Woolman Hill Quaker Center

YES! Youth Conference Basketball Hall of Fame

Hope and Inspiration Performing Arts Festival, Roxbury Community College, Boston

WW Johnson Life Center Youth Program

Springfield Substance Abuse Forum

DYS Westfield Youth Detention Center

Gateway Regional Middle school

Franklin County Youth Action Corps

River Valley Academy, Holyoke, MA

Marlboro College (video, lecture, discussion)

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

California College of Arts & Crafts

Hampshire Jail and House Of Corrections