This Thursday, February 9, in anticipation of our New York premiere of Villa by Guillermo Calderón, The Play Company will be hosting “A Conversation on Human Rights: Making Historical Memory into Present Action” in collaboration with the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, Historical Memory Project, CCNY Division Interdisciplinary Studies at CWE, and the Museum of Chinese in America. Through dialogue with representatives of these organizations, we’ll delve into the issues of how lessons from the past inform contemporary movements for social justice. Preceding the conversation, actors Crystal Finn, Vivia Font, and Harmony Stempel will present a reading of select scenes from Villa.
Kate Loewald, Founding Producer at The Play Company said, “We are looking forward to sharing this powerful play with New Yorkers. We hope it will not only connect our community with compelling human stories from Chile’s past, but also spark connections with contemporary struggles here in the U.S. to address painful, unresolved history in order to move forward as a more just and equal society. We’re honored to be working with these partner organizations and bring them together with Guillermo Calderon for a conversation about how historical memory shapes our future.”
Marcia Esparza, Founder and Director of the Historical Memory Project shared, “This timely showing of Villa is a poignant reminder of the long-term legacies of authoritarian regimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by rightwing militaries in Latin America. Villa, a torture center in the outskirts of Santiago, Chile, draws our attention to current generations’ duty to remember the past, to honor victims and to take action against those very same socio-economic, political and cultural conditions that paved the way for the rise of fascism in the region. A must see for the Latin American diasporic community promoting historical memory in NYC.”
We are thrilled to introduce our partners in this conversation!
Guillermo Calderón (Playwright, VILLA): Calderón is a playwright and director based in New York. He graduated with a degree in Arts specializing in Acting from the Universidad de Chile and studied abroad graduating from the Dell’Arte School of Physical Theater in California, USA. He also has a Master of Liberal Arts with a specialization in Film, from the City University of New York. His first play as a writer & director was Neva, which won multiple awards including: Best Play of the year in 2006 by the Art Critics Circle of Chile, three Altazor Awards in 2007 and the 2008 Jose Nuez Martin Award. In 2008, he debuted Clase, which also won Best Play of the Year (Art Critics Circle of Chile) and was nominated as Best Playwright for the Atazor Awards. In 2008 he wrote and directed December, which won the 2010 Bank of Scotland Angel Award (Edinburgh International Festival). His recent plays include the duo of Villa and Speech, which premiered in Chile at the international festival Santiago A Mil, and then went on to run at the Memory Museum in Santiago. He recently worked on the screenplay for Violeta (se fue a los cielos), Chile’s 2012 entry for the Oscar Awards in the Foreign Film category; El Club (2016 Silver Bear Award, Berlin, 2016 Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film); and Neruda (2017 Golden Globe nominee for Best Foreign Language Film) with director by Pablo Larrain.
Kate Loewald (Founding Producer, PlayCo): The Play Company is an OBIE Award-winning Off Broadway theater Production Company. PlayCo has produced 31 new plays from the United States, Germany, Romania, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Japan, India, Mexico, France, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England. Their most recent production is the acclaimed New York premiere of Caught written by Christopher Chen and directed by Lee Sunday Evans. PlayCo develops and produces adventurous new plays from the U.S. and around the world, advancing a dynamic global practice of contemporary theater and expanding the American theater repertoire.
Elizabeth Silkes (Executive Director, ICSC): The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience is a worldwide network of “Sites of Conscience” – historic sites, museums and memory initiatives – that activate the power of places of memory to engage the public with a deeper understanding of the past and inspire action to shape a just future. The Coalition supports its members in many ways, including providing direct funding for civic engagement programs; introducing members to a global network of similarly minded sites, helping them establish best practices and new partnerships; organizing leadership and program development opportunities; offering dialogue training; and conducting strategic advocacy for individual members and the Sites of Conscience movement as a whole.
Marcia Esparza (Founder and Director, HMP): Historical Memory Project at John Jay maintains that the recovery of historical memory is a part of the antidote to historical injustices. Through active recovery of historical memory and records from their base in NYC, HMP is committed to cultivating historical memory of the forcibly disappeared, the tortured, the massacred, the victims of sexual violence, and those whose human rights were violated by planned and coordinated actions. They are also committed to teaching and raising awareness of mass atrocities and state violence in the public university and grassroots communities of New York City, with the goal of shaping a new generation of memory defenders, promoters, and human rights archivists, seeking truth, justice, and critical human rights.
Danielle Zach (Acting Director, Human Rights Studies at CCNT): City College of New York’s Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Center for Worker Education (CWE) serves a population that would be otherwise underserved by the college, and its courses and educational programs are specifically designed for students whose access to higher education may have been limited or interrupted due to financial limitations, work responsibilities, and family obligations. A spirit of open inquiry, curricular innovation, and academic integrity are linchpins of the CWE mission. Equally important are respect for diversity among faculty, staff and students, and a continuous search for our common ground as learners, teachers, and scholars. In providing its program, CWE seeks mutually beneficial relationships with labor unions, community-based organizations, city agencies, and employers in both the non-profit and private sectors who share our educational mission. With a dual focus on excellence and access, and by reaching out to the community, CWE aims to be a positive force in lower Manhattan and in the New York metropolitan area.
Nancy Yao Maasbach (President, MOCA): Museum of Chinese in America is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history, heritage, culture and diverse experiences of people of Chinese descent in the United States. The Museum promotes dialogue and understanding among people of all cultural backgrounds, bringing 160 years of Chinese American history to vivid life through its innovative exhibitions, educational and cultural programs. Through their initiatives, MOCA hopes to increase the visibility of the myriad voices and identities that make up Chinese American history, while increasing local and global dialogue. By understanding and documenting what is happening today, we strive to shape tomorrow.
The Play Company will present Villa from March 1 to April 1 at The Wild Project (195 East 3rd Street, Manhattan). Tickets are on sale now. For more information, visit playco.org. “A Conversation on Human Rights: Making Historical Memory into Present Action” will be held on February 9 from 7 – 9pm at CCNY’s Center for Worker Education, 25 Broadway, 7th floor, NYC. This event is free and open to the public, but a photo ID is required for entry.