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Performers To Read Letters To The New Administration at DEAR PRESIDENT BIDEN Live Event

This event is part of American Values, Religious Voices: 100 Days, 100 Letters.

Performers To Read Letters To The New Administration at DEAR PRESIDENT BIDEN Live Event

A diverse gathering of performers, together with a U.S. Congressman and first-time voters, will join together for DEAR PRESIDENT BIDEN: A PRESIDENTS' DAY PERFORMANCE & COMMUNITY CONVERSATION, a live, virtual event presented nation-wide on Monday, February 15 at 8:00 p.m. EST. The event is free to the public, with reservations required at https://dearpresidentbiden.eventbrite.com.

This event is part of American Values, Religious Voices: 100 Days, 100 Letters, a national, nonpartisan campaign that is sending a letter a day from religious studies scholars across the U.S. to President Biden, Vice President Harris, and members of the 117th Congress for the first 100 days of the new administration. The letters apply wisdom from our diverse faith traditions to the urgent issues confronting our country today, showing how Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh teachings can provide guidance and inspiration to us all.

American Values, Religious Voices was created by Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Provost and Bible professor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and Lisa Weinberger, founder and creative director of Masters Group Design.

Launched in 2017 with 100 letters sent to the previous administration and 115th Congress, the grassroots project has garnered national media attention and thousands of subscribers across the country. This project aims to contribute constructively to our national discourse, reaffirming our core American values and modeling how we can learn from one another and work together for the common good. DEAR PRESIDENT BIDEN aims to animate the letters in a new way, broaden our audiences, and encourage the type of dialogue that is at the heart of the project's desire for engaged citizenship.

The Presidents' Day event will feature a variety of performers reading selected letters and songwriters performing original songs inspired by the letters. Performers include Emmy winner and Oscar nominee David Strathairn (TV's Temple Grandin and the films Good Night, and Good Luck, Lincoln and The Bourne Ultimatum, among others), Obie winner Nilaja Sun (whose one woman show No Child... had an acclaimed New York run and toured internationally) and Michele Tauber (credits include HBO Max's Search Party) and Angel Desai (Broadway's Company and Co-Founder of The Asian American Performers Action Coalition). Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter Keisha Hutchins Hirlinger will perform a new song inspired by the letters.

The program also will feature U.S. Congressman Dwight Evans (D-PA 3rd District) and young voters in his home city of Philadelphia.

Following the readings, the audience and performers will join in a conversation about the letters and ways citizens and leaders alike can work to improve our communities and help our country live up to its highest ideals.

The event will be directed and hosted by Philadelphia-based theater director and producer David Bradley, joined by Rabbi Weiss. Bradley has gained acclaim for civic-themed arts projects with Americans for the Arts, the National Constitution Center, World Cafe Live, People's Light, Theater of War, and Temple University's Institute on Disabilities. Bradley will also facilitate the community conversation.

Performer David Strathairn sees the letters and the Presidents' Day event in a tradition of unifying activism. "When asked how we were ever going to clean up the Hudson River, the beloved legendary song-writer and environmental activist Pete Seeger said, 'One spoonful at a time,'" Strathairn commented. "How can we encourage a politics of empathy and fairness? One just, kind, compassionate, equitable word at a time." For American Values, Religious Voices, this happens one letter at a time.


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