This June, five CCM Drama students will take part in an original theater project that brings the power of the performing arts to the world’s largest refugee camp – the Dadaab Refugee camp in Kenya, which houses 268,000 refugees.
The pilot Dadaab Theater project will involve CCM students working with African youth refugees to share and create original theater projects, culminating in a performance on World Refugee Day in Nairobi, Kenya on June 20. CCM Drama Chair Richard E. Hess will accompany students Alyssa Caputo, Cameron Davis, Kristopher Dean, Will Kiley and Mikayla Stanley as they travel to Kenya for a week to share their talents in this new cultural exchange program.
“The Dadaab theater project is the first opportunity in my life to actively use my art to tell stories that must be told,” said junior Kristopher Dean. “I am going to Kenya to share, to listen, to grow and to return with stories that I must tell.”
The Dadaab Theater Project aims to use theater as a tool for communication, expression, transformation and healing in order to inspire refugee youth to create their own opportunities for positive personal and community change. CCM Drama alumni Michael Littig (2005) and Julianna Bloodgood (2005) co-founded the project and are working in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, FilmAid, The Great Globe Foundation and Save the Children. Littig and Bloodgood approached Hess last year about CCM Drama getting involved with the collaboration.
“I am so excited by the offer to make students in CCM Drama the United States representatives to this unique project,” said Hess. “As a theater teacher and director I believe in storytelling. I believe in celebrating diversity through storytelling, and I believe that we must find a way to expose students to our multicultural world. As an artist, I believe we must go where we are afraid to go and listen to and share with those whose voices have been marginalized.”
Littig and Bloodgood, who are currently in Kenya, have formed a pilot theater group of youth refugees for the project. Training with master artists from Somalia, Burundi and Sudan, Littig and Bloodgood are leading the refugee youth in creating a theater piece centered on identity. Through their work and performance, the youth will learn to play a meaningful role in reconciliation, leadership and a way to speak within and beyond their community.
At CCM, Hess has been leading the group of five Drama students in generating an original theater piece about identity – called The Collapsible Space Between Us – which they will take to Kenya. While at the Dadaab Refugee Camp, the CCM team will work together with Kenyan artists and youth refugees to share performance work, engage in leadership training, take master classes, share dialogue and create another original theater piece for World Refugee Day.
For more information about the project or to donate to the effort, visit www.ccmdadaab.com.
On Saturday, May 21, the CCM students involved in the Dadaab Theater Project will present a benefit performance of The Collapsible Space Between Us, their original theater piece about identity that will be presented in Kenya. The performance takes place at 8 p.m. in the Robert J. Werner Recital Hall in CCM Village. Tickets are $15 and available from the CCM Box Office: 513-556-4183 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Proceeds support travel costs for the CCM Drama/Dadaab Theater Project.
The CCM Drama/Dadaab Theater Project is sponsored by The CCM Harmony Fund: Challenging Hate and Prejudice through Performing Arts.
About the Dadaab Refugee Camp
On the border of Somalia, Dadaab has housed refugees for almost 20 years. Most of the people living in the camps – 97% – are Somali, though there are also refugees from Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, the Congo and other countries in conflict. Many have lived in Dadaab for over a decade, unable to return to homes still embroiled in chaos. Originally built to sustain 90,000 refugees, the number is currently at 268,000 and rising on a daily basis.
About the CCM Students
Mikayla Stanley is currently a senior. This past summer she participated in an artist intensive with the international theater company Theater MITU in Bangalore, India. She also had a principal role in a film called Zoe. She is the current artistic director of the newly founded Cincinnati Outdoor Classics. She was recently seen in CCM’s productions of Bury the Dead (Acclaim Award Winner) and Crimes of the Heart (Meg), and has also been seen in Transmigration: EARWORM, 47 Bottles in a Lake and Miss Lonelyhearts. She has performed in many original pieces throughout Cincinnati, including it might be okay, Body Language II and Body Language III. For more information visit http://www.mikaylastanley.com.
Cameron Davis is currently a junior. His regional credits include Hamlet and The Tragedy of King Richard III at the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis; Evita at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts and Origin Story, Snow White, Love in the Time of Chanukah and Military 4Play at Hangar Theater in Ithaca, N.Y., where he was also a member of the 2009 Hangar Theater Lab Company. Davis has also performed internationally at the International Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. His film credits include Raid Through Indiana (Albert) and Fences (Eric).
Kristopher Dean is currently a junior. His roles at CCM include Grandpa in You Can’t Take It With You, Cornelius in The Matchmaker and First Soldier in Bury the Dead. Dean is from Lansdale, Pa., and he is currently the Cincinnati VP of AFTRA.
Will Kiley is currently a sophomore. His roles at CCM include George in Our Town, Barnaby in The Matchmaker and Doctor in Bury the Dead. Kiley was born and raised in Cincinnati.
Alyssa Caputo is currently a freshman. The Dadaab Theater Project is Caputo’s first performance abroad with an ensemble group. Before attending CCM, Caputo graduated from Pebblebrook High School’s Cobb County Center of Excellence in the Performing Arts (CCCEPA) in Mableton, Ga. During her four years at CCCEPA she appeared in Anton Chekov’s The Three Sisters (Olga) and Shakespeare’s As You Like It (Celia). She debuted in Warner Bros. We are Marshall (Gail Morehouse).