Strengthening Youth Leadership

Transforms Communities

First Generation Ensemble 2021-2022
Entsar Abdelrahman
Montaser Abdelrahman
Rubi Biswa
Abhishek Biswa
Justice Sostre Garcia
Monisha Gurung
Julita Hatangerwa
Salama Isaack
Moise Jakobo
Omika Khadka
Quinn Rodriguez
Iliana “Lali” Quilez-Torres




 stand tallStand 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.



 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. 


First Generation and Performance Project

Performance and Presentations



Augusta Savage Galley - New Africa House, UMASS

American International College

Bunker Hill Community College, Boston

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

Springfield College, 2013 (Cultural Connections) 2013 (fo n’ale), 2011 (Ripple Effect), 2006 (Walk With Me),

Holyoke Community College

Amherst College - Ko Festival of Performance 2010, 2014

Springfield Technical Community College

Bowker Auditorium UMASS

Westfield University

Mount Holyoke College

The Elms

Holyoke Community College

Trinity College, Hartford, CT



Holyoke High School

Sullivan School

Commerce, Central and Renaissance High Schools

Turners Falls High School

Northampton High School

Westfield Youth Service Center

Chestnut Academy

Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School

Peck Middle School

Upward Bound Program

Rebecca M Johnson School

Brattleboro High School, Brattleboro, VT



Ashtar International Youth Theater Festival 2021, Palestine (virtual)

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

Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival 2014, 2016

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



School of Contemporary Dance and Thought

Northampton Center for the Arts

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



Regional Employment Board

Peace Corps Gathering, private home, Springfield, MA



2021 Great Labor Arts Exchange (virtual)

NAMEN (North American Men Engage) Conference- “Intersectionality And Decolonization” (virtual)

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

YES! Youth Conference, Basketball Hall of Fame

Mass Cultural Council Event, Wistariahurst Museum, Holyoke



Communities That Care Presentation, Selections and First Generation Greenfield Cable TV (virtual)

Springfield Citywide Virtual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration (virtual)

The Care Center, Holyoke, MA

New England Public Radio Springfield Grand Opening

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



2021 NAMEN Round Table for International audience (virtual)

Springfield College Dance Department

The Care Center, Holyoke, MA

Upward Bound, Northfield Mount Hermon (2x)

Youth Action Coalition, Amherst

Springfield Public Library

Our Place' Holyoke Shelter

Smith College

Hampshire College

University of New Mexico Theater Department

High Meadows Youth Facility, CT

Student Bridges of UMASS

Woolman Hill Quaker Center

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


Co-Sponsored Events

Nepali/Bhutanese Cultural Festivals #1 and #2