CCM Chair of Drama Richard E. Hess Receives Fulbright Scholar Award

Drama professor Richard Hess (right) led a contingent of students to Kenya in 2011 where they met refugees such as Abdi Rashid, a writer (left), who translated Hess' words to Somali.

Drama professor Richard Hess (right) led a contingent of students to Kenya in 2011 where they met refugees such as Abdi Rashid, a writer (left), who translated Hess’ words to Somali.

Richard E. Hess, the A.B., Dolly, Ralph and Julia Cohen Chair of Drama at CCM, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to teach and research at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya during the 2013-­14 academic year, the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announced recently.

Hess’ research project, The Collapsible Space Between Us: Creating Artistic Identity through Theatre-­Making in Kenya, will allow him to work with actors as an acting teacher, on original devised theatre as a director and in educating theatre-­makers: actors who are story­tellers with strong identities interested in creating exciting physical theatre.

Hess is one of approximately 1,100 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program in 2013-­14.

Hess first traveled to Nairobi in June of 2011 to create an original theatre piece with refugees from the Dadaab Refugee Camp and CCM Drama students. The Dadaab Theatre Project performed at World Refugee Day with support from the United Nations and the Great Globe Foundation.

“In Kenya I met a group of multi-cultural, international, multi-language strangers who used the currency of theatre to open hearts, share identities, and give voice to the unspoken,” Hess explains. “I encountered heroic bravery and tangible hope, and was surprised by the intense trust and humbling respect given to me so easily. The Africans made me feel valued as a teacher in a way I have never felt. I am eager to return.”

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CCM Students and African Refugees Bond Through Theatre

Photography by Richard E. Hess.

CCM's Will Kiley (right) reaches across cultures to connect with Ojullu Opiew Ochan, an Ethiopian refugee, as part of the Dadaab Theatre Project's performance. Photography by Richard E. Hess.

Last June, CCM sent a contingent from our Drama Program to create theatre with residents of Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp. This month, UC Magazine takes a look back at the life-changing project in its “beyond our borders” issue.

Listen to alumnus and project founder Michael Littig along with students Will Kiley and Alyssa Caputo describe the experience and read the complete feature here.

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CCM Drama Students to Create Theater Projects With Youth Refugees in Kenya

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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.

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