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Imagination Stage Debuts Original Film 10 SECONDS

The first screening is for Montgomery County community leaders on Thursday, April 22 at 5:15 p.m. (ET).

Imagination Stage Debuts Original Film 10 SECONDS

This month Imagination Stage debuts the filmed version of its stage play 10 Seconds at two virtual screenings and online panel discussions. The first is a screening for Montgomery County community leaders on Thursday, April 22 at 5:15 p.m. (ET). The second is a screening in partnership with Dallas Children's Theatre on Thursday, April 29 at 6:30 p.m. (ET).

These screenings are also free and open to the public. General public registration is at

10 Seconds, written by Miriam Gonzales and directed by LeeAnét Noble, explores a world where deeply rooted biases and misperceptions easily take hold. Life can often feel unnerving - and can change for better or worse in the blink of an eye depending on how we see each other. Ray and Jimi are Washington, DC high school students who navigate their young adult worlds and what it means to be young Black men in the city. Ray tells the story of a day - and "ten seconds" inside that day - that he and Jimi will never forget, sharing not only their perspectives, but also the views of the police they encounter. Through audience engagement and interactive moments, the film provides opportunities for reflection and discussion. By "stopping time" the audience is asked to imagine what might happen if everyone makes the effort to pause, listen to one another, question our assumptions, and consider the possibilities for change.

On April 22, the panel discussion, focusing on local policing, will be facilitated by Professor Roger A. Mitchell Jr., MD FCAP, Chairman of the Department of Pathology at Howard University. Panelists include: Gabe Albornoz, Montgomery County Councilmember; Chief Marcus Jones, Montgomery County Police Chief, and LeeAnét Noble, director of 10 Seconds.

On April 29, the panel will discuss policing on a national level. Facilitating is Denise Lee, Dallas Children's Theatre Social Justice Strategist. Panelists include: Officer Devalon Lee-Arkansas of the Dallas Police Department's (DPD) Youth Outreach Unit; Shontay Miles-Davis, former Metropolitan Police Department (DC) officer; Makenzie Grier, high school senior and member of the DPD Youth Leadership Council; and, from 10 Second's creative team, playwright Miriam Gonazles and actor Tre'mon Mills.

10 Seconds will have additional screenings at numerous schools and events. Every screening includes a virtual, interactive follow-up panel discussion. Joanne Seelig Lamparter, Imagination Stage's Artistic Director of Education and Theatre for Change, says "10 Seconds is a wonderful opportunity to challenge our audiences about the quick assumptions we all make of one another on a personal level. It takes a deep look into the ways systemic racism plays out in our communities while providing an opportunity to reimagine the future."

10 Seconds is funded in part by a grant from the Children's Theatre Foundation of America. The play is part of Imagination Stage's Theatre for Change (TfC) initiative, which uses theatre productions and educational workshops to bridge cultural divides and lift up underrepresented voices. TfC explores complex social justice issues to help build a new generation of compassionate, collaborative youths who are capable of changing the world. This reflects Imagination Stage's long-standing commitment to empowering young people by allowing them to explore their creativity and attain such key skills as communication, collaboration, creative problem solving, and innovative thinking.

"The 'change' in TfC is really social change," says Lamparter. "Whether it is about sharing the stories of refugee youth, reimagining policing, or finding ways for incarcerated youth to have their voices heard and be seen in a new light by the community, our TfC programming is based around community partnerships and interests who bring an expertise such as social work and with whom we can collaborate to bring new stories to the forefront."

10 Seconds is an element of Imagination Stage's Youth & Police Partnership (YPP), which was launched in 2017 in collaboration with the Washington, DC Police Foundation, a youth-serving non-profit organization aligned with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). YPP brings together students ages 10-18 and law enforcement officers to participate in theatre-based activities designed to find common ground--including practicing leadership skills, conflict resolution, and violence prevention-- between the two groups and to empower the young people to develop leadership skills. The young participants, who are recruited by the MPD, are more than 96% African-American.

Imagination Stage commissioned award-winning playwright Miriam Gonzales to observe and collaborate with the youths and police officers and to write the script for 10 Seconds, which tells their personal stories. Since COVID-19 made live theatre impossible, Imagination Stage decided to film 10 Seconds for a virtual tour in spring 2021, to be followed by an in-person tour of the play beginning in November 2021.

Imagination Stage's Producing Artistic Director, Janet Stanford, believes that "an image of hope is a powerful icon for a teen who, after seeing a piece like 10 Seconds, may finally identify some positive ways to proceed." Stanford continues: "The message of theatre is always, 'You are not alone. However hard, your experience is not isolated or shameful. There is always a reason to advocate for yourself. There are always adults who care. There is always hope.'"

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