Virginia Stage Company, Norfolk State University And Booker T. Washington High School To Present MAAFA

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Virginia Stage Company, Norfolk State University And Booker T. Washington High School To Present MAAFA

Thanks to a grant from Virginia Humanities, Norfolk State University, Virginia Stage Company Public Works, New Calvary Baptist Church, and Norfolk Public Schools, Public Works Artist and NSU Social Work Assistant Professor Jason Sawyer, in partnership with Theatre Arts Director, Kimberly Ambrose, and theatre students from Booker T. Washington High School's Academy of Visual and Performing Arts explore ideas of community, housing, gentrification, and what makes a home in response to current local community conditions in Hampton Roads. The episodes will be presented alongside New Calvary Baptist Church's MAAFA - the story of the black experience in America from the middle passage to modern times.

"This project sheds light on both current and local policy issues. It provides voice to historically affected communities that have been oppressed, and opens opportunity for people, particularly youth, to speak truth to power," says Jason Sawyer. Assistant Professor at the Ethelyn R. Strong School of Social Work at Norfolk State University.

Dr. Bell from New Calvary Baptist Church says, "We hope through the MAAFA presentation you would come to understand on a deeper level the unwavering resilience African Americans have displayed to obtain the rights and place they have today and the work that lies ahead as the struggle for equality continues."

"This opportunity to partner with Public Works, Norfolk State University, and New Calvary Baptist has enriched my students in so many ways," says Kim Ambrose, Theatre Arts teacher at Booker T. Washington High School. "Their love for devised theatre and their appreciation of their communities are forever inextricably linked. I community. I AM ..... forever grateful."

MAAFA will be presented on February 28th and 29th at 6:30pm at Booker T. Washington High School, located at 1111 Park Avenue, Norfolk, VA. Both performances are free and open to the public and will have a community discussion after each performance. This production is supported by Batten Educational Achievement Fund of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation.

Jason Sawyer is an interdisciplinary artist, teacher, community practitioner, and social justice worker. He is an Assistant Professor at the Ethelyn R. Strong School of Social Work at Norfolk State University. In his career, he has worked in theatre education, non-profit program management, community organizing, teaching, performing arts, and policy advocacy. His diverse background includes teaching theatre at the Governor's School for the Arts, teaching English abroad, working as a Policy Fellow at the Virginia Interfaith Center of Public Policy in grassroots organizing and social advocacy, and working in neighborhood based community organizing efforts. His research interests lie in critical pedagogy, community organizing, positive youth development, privilege and oppression, and arts based interventions. His practice encompasses the use of the creative process in community organizing, youth arts based program evaluation, community practice model development, applied theatre, and transformative arts practice.

Public Works Virginia is a major initiative of Virginia Stage Company that seeks to engage the people of Hampton Roads by making them creators of theater rather than spectators. Working with community partner organizations across the seven cities, Public Works Virginia invites community members to attend classes, attend productions, and join the creation of ambition works of participatory theater.

Virginia Stage Company is Virginia's leading theatre destination, serving an audience of over 58,000 annually, both at the Wells Theatre and throughout the community. Virginia Stage Company's mission is to enrich, educate, and entertain the region by creating and producing theatrical art of the highest quality.

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