More than 400 participants from 34 countries attended Performing the World 2014 (PTW) at the All Stars Project’s national headquarters in New York City. The biennial autumn conference, co-sponsored by the Institute and All Stars Project, Inc., brought together performance activists, educators, therapists, artists, community organizers, social workers and business people — among them, dozens of longtime Institute colleagues, trainees and International Class alumni — to explore this year’s theme How Shall We Become? The three-day event included five plenary sessions and 83 workshops, panel discussions and performances — an inspiring array of projects showing the power of performance to create new ways of seeing and being. In keeping with the conference theme, conference presenters worked to keep the question of how and the topic of process front and center.
A grass-roots performance of community building, the conference was produced and staffed by nearly 200 volunteers; in addition, dozens of New York City housing hosts opened their homes so that international visitors had a place to stay.
Two plenary sessions opened the conference: One, titled “Becoming Performances,” explored, “how shall we become” in different countries, cultures and political, economic institutional contexts. Moderated by All Stars Project President and CEO Gabrielle L. Kurlander, it featured: medical doctor and clown Patch Adams; All Stars Project Co-founder and Institute faculty Lenora Fulani; Institute director Lois Holzman; Artistic Director of That Uppity Theatre Company in St. Louis Joan Lipkin, ; founder of the Smiling League based in Bogota Carlos Lopez; and Rita Omovbude, the leader of Street Project Foundation in Lagos, Nigeria. A second panel led by Dr. Fulani with four alumni of the All Stars’ youth programs discussed the challenges of living in poverty and continuing to develop as productive and creative young adults.
Saturday afternoon’s plenaries gave people a choice of participating in The Verbing of Life: A Bee-coming, a performance workshop led by clowning M.D., Patch Adams; an All Stars Talent Show workshop in Harlem; a visit to the All Stars Newark New Jersey Flamm Center; or a rehearsal of the Castillo Theatre production of Still on the Corner.
The conference ended with choices of how to wrap up/perform Performing the World—musically, conversationally, therapeutically and theatrically—resulting in the creation of an original song that was spontaneously performed on the Fred Newman Stage, a performance space named after Institute and PTW co-founder, the late Fred Newman.
It went something like this:
The magic of humanityReflects the community;Art reflecting life, life reflecting art,Put on a bee-hat (bzzzz),Now that’s a good start.
The magic of humanity —Laughing’s revolutionary —Dance beyond words, words beyond dance,Do more, worry lessGives us the best chance.How shall we become?How shall we become?How shall we become?How shall we become?The magic of humanityReflects the community;Art reflecting life, life reflecting artPut on a bee-hat (bzzzz),Now that’s a good start.How shall we become…how shall we become?!