The Artist's Responsibility as Witness
11/19 following the 11:00 AM and 7:30 PM performances, featuring
Witness Responsibility founder Stacie Chaiken
Rwandan community organizer Mary H. Uwera. Moderated by Mosaic Theater Board Member Stephen Stern.
MEET THE PANELISTS
Mary Uwera was born and grew up in Uganda to Rwandan Tutsi parents, spending most of her early life in a community greatly impact by the ongoing conflict and genocide, and surrounded by many friends and relatives who were fighters in the exiled RPF guerrilla army. After the genocide her parents took her back to Rwanda, where she lived and worked as a youth organizer among Tutsi and Hutus. For the last decade she has worked with resettled refugee communities in a number of countries — including three years spent working with resettled Rwandan Hutus in Tennessee. Writer-performer Stacie Chaiken served as International Creative Director of Kwibuka20, 2014 commemoration of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi. In that role, she created a series of events designed to frame the Rwanda story, twenty years after the genocide.
A Fulbright Senior Specialist in the field of Performance and Story, she facilitates What’s the Story? a Los Angeles-based studio for writers and performers who are wrestling with personal story. In 2012, with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, she co-produced a one-day conference at the University of Southern California called “Witness and Responsibility,” which focussed on the role of the artist as witness and responder to catastrophic testimony. Chaiken continues that inquiry in the context of an initiative called “Witness : Responsibility [Artists Unlocking Empathy]. The premise is that It is difficult for most people to fully engage with testimony related to catastrophe or mass atrocity. Artists are—by virtue of their training—able to stand in the face of unspeakable things and translate their own experience into works with which a broad audience is willing to engage. This work can serve as a powerful tool to increase and expand public awareness, transform perception, and potentially inspire action. Make change.
MODERATED BY STEPHEN R. STERN
Stephen R. Stern is a founding member of The Mosaic Theater Board Executive Committee and Co-Director of Community Engagement and Programs at Mosaic; is co-Founder of Friends of Taghyeer (Change): the Palestinian National Nonviolence Movement; and co-founder and former co-Chair of J Street DC Metro Chapter. For 15 years he was associated with Theater J, helping put together its extensive public discussion programming, especially through its Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival (now at Mosaic).
Stephen was co-creator of the DCJCC's Dialogues Program and of Greater Washington Jewish Federation's Israel in DC's "Conversation Israel" initiative. He has created public conversations on the Middle East, communities in conflict and interfaith relations for J Street DC Metro, the Saul Stern Professorship of Civic Engagement at the University of Maryland, Encounter Programs, and other venues and organizations. Stephen was the director, co-creator and co-author of Waziristan to Washington: A Muslim at the Crossroads – a one-person play performed by Akbar Ahmed – about Ambassador Ahmed’s life and times.
Stephen spent 11 years at the World Bank, working on community participation and social development in its Asia Regions, and served as a core team member for Bank President James Wolfensohn’s global culture and sustainable development initiative. Stephen was a founding partner and actor with the internationally acclaimed Otrabanda Theater Company with which he performed original and adapted theater works in Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and in 35 states in the US.