Voices of Nashville
Voices of Nashville
Our return engagement at the Looby Theater opens March 6, 2015 and runs through March 22.
Commissioned by TWTP and written by Christine Mather and Sara Sharpe,Voices of Nashville explores the experience of immigrants in our region through the eyes of these new Americans. TWTP Founder and Artistic Director Maryanna Clarke describes the inspiration this way: “Most people are aware of the explosive growth in the immigrant population of Nashville. Native-born residents are encountering people from all over the planet, and it’s not necessarily a comfortable thing. We see the play as a way of introducing neighbors to neighbors – as humans, and not strangers.”
Voices features David Chattam, Colette Divine, Keri Pisapia and Becky Wahlstrom, playing characters from around the globe.
ringing out with strength, resilience and courage."
Amy Stumpfl, The Tennessean
Founder and Artistic Director Maryanna Clarke describes the inspiration: “Most people are aware of the explosive growth in the immigrant population of Nashville and our region. Native-born residents are encountering people from all over the planet, and it’s not necessarily a comfortable thing. I want to explore Nashville’s immigration experience from the point of view of these new Americans, as a way of introducing neighbors to neighbors – as humans, not strangers or intruders.”
Christine Mather holds a Ph.D. in Theatre from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. She was a 2010-11 Playwright in Residence in Tennessee Repertory Theatre’s Ingram New Works Lab, working with John Patrick Shanley. Her plays include The Sarajevo Zoo (Chicago Dramatists, 2005), Zoologies (Bongo Java 2007), One Idea, With Frosting (Nashville New Works, 2011), Now You See Him (Ingram New Works Festival, 2011) and The West Bank Zoo (Women's Work 2012). Christine’s directing and youth storywork includes directing Lettice and Lovage for Adobe Theatre in Albuquerque, NM and The Shoemaker’s Children with the children at Hillwood Presbyterian Church. She has served as dramaturg and script consultant for Nashville Shakespeare Festival (Much Ado About Nothing, 2012; Richard III, 2009; Coriolanus, 2008; Hamlet, 2008), Lipscomb University Theatre Department (Doubt, 2010) and Belmont University (Pride and Prejudice, 2008). Theatre publications include articles and reviews in Theatre Survey, Theatre Journal, and Text and Presentation.
Sara Sharpe is the co-founder and former Artistic Director of Nashville's BroadAxe Theatre, which joined the long tradition of popular theatres working to unravel and express the root causes of social and political ills. Nashville audiences will remember her as Karla Faye Tucker in the world premier of Karla in the fall of 2002. At BroadAxe, Sara wrote and edited Conversations in a Time of Terror, a series of monologues about 9/11 and its aftermath. More recently, she created The Fairview Project: An American Conversation. This documentary film and stage production attempts to reconcile the differences of liberal and conservative residents of a rural Tennessee town.
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For several months beginning in late 2012, Sara and Christine conducted outreach and research interviews with new Americans. From these sessions emerges a narrative of the immigration experience, told in the voices of composite characters. We have gotten to know some wonderful people, and although audiences will not know the names, their stories bring clarity and empathy to a topic most people know only from headlines. At all points of the process – research, creation, outreach and performance – we are working in partnership with such organizations as the Nashville International Center for Empowerment, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, Conexión Américas, Scarritt-Bennett Center, American Center for Outreach and the Coalition for Education about Immigration. Our aim is to reach, teach and inspire audiences to see themselves and their new neighbors in new ways.
The first preview of Voices was presented February 25, 2013 at Scarritt-Bennett Center, as part of Nashville Metro Planning Department's Nashville Next planning initiative. Keri Pisapia, her hijab borrowed from our new friend and supporter Remziya Suleyman, delivered a moving monologue describing a Kurdish girl's arrival in America, her assimilation and her identification as a Nashvillian and an American. For more on the Nashville Next event, entitled Demographics, Equity and Inclusion, including a video of Keri's presentation, click here.
Voices of Nashville received its first public reading on opening night of our Seventh Annual Women's Work Festival, May 3, 2013. A lively audience discussion followed the performance. A fully staged production of Voices will open our 2013-14 season, running at the Looby Theater from October 4-20. An official Artober event, the Looby Theater presentation was sponsored by HCA/TriStar Health. Buy Tickets Here!
We are proud to to be partners with Nashville Public Television, which has helped our playwrights with outreach and resources, and our company by helping spread the word about Voices of Nashville. Learn more about Nashville's emerging immigrant and refugee populations with Nashville Public Television's Emmy award winning documentary series, "Next Door Neighbors" and see videos made by immigrants and refugees as part of NPT's Storytellers project. Learn more at wnpt.org/nextdoorneighbors and wnpt.org/storytellers.
TWTP and Voices of Nashville were featured in the June episode of ¿Que Pasa Nashville? on Nashville's NewsChannel 5. We're grateful to host Cristina Allen and producer/director Marielena Ramos for inviting us on the show. Here's the video (which starts with a word from a WTVF sponsor):
Following its world premiere production at the Looby, Voices will tour community centers such as Nashville’s new Casa Azafrán, as well as churches and social organizations, reaching groups depicted in the play, and lifelong residents of demographically homogeneous communities. Planning is underway for a tour of Metro Nashville Public High Schools, whose student population is both more ethnically diverse and less affluent than the city’s population at large. Carol Crittenden MNPS Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator, offers this comment: “I cannot think of a more appropriate project for the diversity of our Nashville community. When you are ready to share with the teachers, let me know and we will start scheduling.” Based on our 2011 experience with Warriors Don't Cry, we expect to present Voices of Nashville as far north as Austin Peay State University, and as far south as Motlow State Community College in Lynchburg.