Sandy Hook Promise Teams with Long Wharf Theatre for OFFICE HOUR Programming
Long Wharf Theatre (LWT) and Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) will partner to offer a series of conversations and programs in connection with the theatre's production of Office Hour, by Julia Cho. The play runs from January 17 through February 11, 2018 on Stage II.
A college student hides behind dark glasses, a baseball cap pulled low, and writings that disturb and provoke. He's scares the people around him. Is he just venting or is he really troubled? Gina, his writing professor, is the only one willing to try to understand. Office Hour, the newest play from Obie Award- winning playwright Julia Cho, is a thrilling ride through the psyches of two people learning to understand one another.
Sandy Hook Promise was founded by several Newtown community members, including Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley, two parents who each lost children in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. The mission of the organization is to prevent gun violence (and other forms of violence and victimization) before it happens by educating and mobilizing youth and adults on mental health and wellness programs that identify, intervene and help at-risk individuals.
"In looking for partnerships, I am always looking for the intersection between what is happening on stage is what is happening in the world around us," said Community Engagement Manager Elizabeth Nearing in reference to the reason why a partnership with SHP made sense for this show.
"When Elizabeth reached out to us about partnering on this event, we were instantly interested, not only because of the strong connection that the play has to our mission and violence prevention programs but also because of how deeply the staff cares about and invests in the safety and care of the New Haven community," Barden said.
Sandy Hook Promise is actively working to mitigate the culture of fear being created by the violence found in today's society. "How can we use storytelling and creating empathy and compassion for people as an anti-violence measure? What's amazing about Sandy Hook Promise is that this is something they are doing every day. They are reaching out to millions across the country to build networks of compassionate, empathetic people that build community, which we know acts as one of the most effective preventative measures against gun violence," Nearing said.
"Since 2015 we've trained over 2.5 million youth and adults in our 'Know the Signs' prevention programs that help make schools and communities safer, while also building more connected, compassionate communities. We can't wait to work with the theater to help empower youth in their community to prevent violence, cultivate new relationships and create lasting change," Barden said.
Sandy Hook Promise will work with the theatre's education and community engagement departments to spread awareness and prompt discussion about gun violence. "This is where the theatre comes in. We can help create a culture of listening, to do what we can to prevent people from feeling so alone and so much like an outsider," Nearing said.
The education initiatives include:
January 6, 9 am to 3 pm - Educators' Laboratory (ED LAB) is Long Wharf Theatre's professional development program, held in association with the theatre's Student Theatre Series, which is dedicated to bringing student audiences from all over Connecticut to the theatre. Three times a year, teachers from all subjects and grade levels are invited to learn arts-integration techniques for their classroom. The aim of ED LAB isto provide teachers with innovative, usable tools, help to create a supportive community of educators, and work to engage students of all backgrounds with LWT's programming. This ED LAB will focus on the themes of Office Hour and will feature The Connecticut Center for Nonviolence teaching Kingian Nonviolent Conflict Resolution through improvisation, music, and visual arts components. Sandy Hook Promise will attend, participate, and give a brief presentation of their materials.
January 19, 7 pm - Creative Exchange is a forum to share ideas with LWT Education staff and other leaders in youth programming. Representatives from Sandy Hook Promise will be on hand to discuss the innovative work they are doing to prevent gun violence.
February 1 and 8 - Sandy Hook Promise representatives will be on hand at both student matinee performances of Office Hour.
Long Wharf Theatre and Sandy Hook Promise will also partner with New Haven Free Public Library to hold a series of events widening and deepening the conversation about gun violence. The events presented in collaboration the library are free and open to the public through LWT's ongoing partnership.
January 9, 6 pm - A panel discussion on the stigma surrounding youth and mental health, Wilson Library.
January 22 - Story Slam on the subject of feeling like an outsider, Ives Main Library.
January 31 - A community conversation on community resilience at Stetson Library. Speakers will be announced at a later date.
Long Wharf Theatre will also host a community giving night January 25 on behalf of Sandy Hook Promise. The fees for tickets purchased that evening will be donated to SHP. There will be a pre-show conversation withMark Barden, one of the founders of SHP starting at 6:30 pm and post-show talkback.
In addition, information about Sandy Hook Promise's programs will be available at every performance of Office Hour.
Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national, nonprofit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut. We are led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and 6 educators. SHP is focused on preventing gun violence (and other forms of violence and victimization) BEFORE it happens by educating and mobilizing youth and adults on mental health and wellness programs that identify, intervene and help at-risk individuals. SHP is a moderate, above-the-politics organization that supports sensible non-policy and policy solutions that protect children and prevent gun violence. Our intent is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation.