Are you First Generation?
Are you the first in your family to
Grow Up In This Country
Graduate High School
Go To College
Be An Activist?
Be Openly LGBTQ+
Be Drug Free
Be A Feminist
Question Your Faith
Break A Silence
Be An Artist
Are you First Generation?
First Generation brings together young adults ages 12-24 who identify as "first generation,” for intensive artistic training, leadership development, and inter-generational mentoring. Forming an artistic ensemble, members create original multi-lingual physical theater performances based on their conversations and discoveries.
First Generation members may be the first in their family to grow up in the United States, the first to speak English, to graduate high school, go to college, or many other firsts. Participants include youth recently arrived in this country and youth who are court-involved. First Generation Ensemble trains with professional artists, college, and graduate students. Community elders participate in our creative process by sharing their experiences and perspectives. We support each other, build on our strengths, cultivate ambition, and become leaders who build enduring, intercultural networks.
In First Generation, we talk about the complexity of embracing individuality while honoring one’s family and community cultures. The Ensemble creates compelling, high-quality performances that engage the public in dialog about critical social, cultural, and generational issues, such as how racism, economic oppression, bigotry, media, and violence can sever us from our cultural origins. Our performances also invite audiences to celebrate our connection and our full humanity through the arts. The work of First Generation is rooted in our belief that our cultural legacies and family histories are sources of strength as well as struggle, as we shape our own lives, our communities, and our futures.
Family and Community Celebrations
Several times a year First Gen hosts Family and Community Celebrations. They are wonderful Saturday afternoons of live music, dance, spoken word, poetry, theater and potluck meals. Family and Community Celebrations include performances by First Generation youth, family members, professional artists, and community members.
First Generation youth attend theater and dance performances, cultural events and festivals in the Pioneer Valley, Vermont, Boston, New Haven and New York. We also climb mountains, pick apples and participate in leadership trainings!
First Generation is a partnership with the Teen Resource Project of The Care Center
CURRENT FIRST GENERATION PERFORMANCE
Stand Tall Mi Gente! is an uplifting performance about the importance of youth voices and the power of speaking out. The Holyoke-based ensemble created Stand Tall! to address social justice concerns through the lens of their own life experiences. Stand Tall! incorporates monologues, movement, storytelling, dance, poetry and drumming and touches upon identity, family struggle, hyper-masculinity, homophobia, and most importantly believing in one’s own voice.
For a list of upcoming performances CLICK HERE
PAST FIRST GENERATION PERFORMANCES
t e n d e r n e s s is a multi-lingual, physical theater piece that contrasts the dehumanization at the core of violence with the eternal power of human tenderness and connection. Inspired by events in Guinea, West Africa, Darfur, and the US, tenderness incorporates ensemble members’ experiences with violence, including war, street violence, police brutality, the school-to-prison pipeline, mass incarceration and human connection.
Tenderness incorporates movement, music and text in eight languages: Arabic, Mandingo, Kirundi, Haitian Creole, French, Spanish and English.
The authors and cast members originate from Haiti, Burundi/Rwanda, Guinea, South Sudan, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Tenderness is directed by Julie Lichtenberg with choreography support by Lesley Farlow. Iyawna Burnett, Sabrina Hamilton and Elsa Menendez consulted on the script. Sound design by Tony Silva and original music by Charles Neville.
Fo n' ale (we must go), is a visual poem that embodies the melancholy of leaving. The piece incorporates dance, music, poetry, and seven languages: Kirundi, Nepali, Haitian Creole, Amharic, French, Spanish, and English. Eight travelers originating from around the world have left their homelands for different reasons and find themselves traveling the same path. A waking dreamscape in which past, present, and future are interchangeable. Memories infuse their dreams, and time obscures the shape of memories.
Fo n' ale suggests how there are moments in our lives when the impact of experience is crystalized, and carried forward in time with such vividness that the past becomes present, and continues to live within us. These moments sustain as fiercely guarded memories, sources of power, as they shape and nourish identity, infusing all that we carry with us into the future.
The eight ensemble members, who currently live in Springfield, Massachusetts, originate from Nepal, Haiti, Burundi/Tanzania, Puerto Rico, Ethiopia and the United States. Uwizeyimana Angelique, Iyawna Burnett, Benjamin “Bush” Christopher, Sosina Erkailo, Laeticia Israël Veronica Israël, Gita Koirala, Chiino Rios. Fo n’ ale is directed by Julie Lichtenberg and Lesley Farlow.
Ripple Effect is based in the personal narratives of the First Generation Ensemble, a group of young adults living in Springfield, MA.
Ripple Effect transforms the stage into a meeting point for their diverse lives that span four languages, Kirundi, Nepali, English, and Spanish, and three continents. Through poetry, movement, monologue and storytelling, the audience is transported from Springfield, MA to a U.S. army base, through a refugee camp in Tanzania, to witness a Nepali family’s struggle for recognition. Ripple Effect is a powerfully-crafted means of sharing the strengths and struggles of the ensemble members’ journeys, families, communities, fantasy worlds, and dreams for the future.
Over the one and a half hours, the Ripple Effect connects the lives of Springfield youth to global events, such as the genocide and child soldiers of Rwanda/Burundi, and ethnic cleansing in Bhutan. Ripple Effect also addresses local and international issues, such as, addiction, HIV, foster care, and homophobia. Ripple Effect was directed by Julie Lichtenberg, Lesley Farlow, Elsa Menendez and Julissa Rodriguez.
Selected Performances 2000-2017
First Generation and Performance Project Ensembles
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
Augusta Savage Galley - New Africa House, UMASS
Hampshire College – 2015 Social Justice Institute, Fo n’ ale 2013, Ripple Effect 2011
Springfield College, 2006, 2011, 2013
Holyoke Community College
Amherst College - Ko Festival of Performance 2010, 2014
Springfield Technical Community College
Bowker Auditorium UMASS
American International College
Holyoke Community College
Trinity College, Hartford, CT
HIGH SCHOOLS AND MIDDLE SCHOOLS
Commerce High School
Renaissance High School
Central High School
Turners Falls High School
Northampton High School
Westfield Youth Service Center
Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School
Peck Middle School
Rebecca M Johnson School
Brattleboro High School, Brattleboro, VT
PROFESSIONAL THEATER FESTIVALS
Revolutions International Theater Festival, Albuquerque, NM - 2005, 2014, 2017
Ko Festival of Performance, Amherst, MA - 2011, 2012, 2016
Shea Theater, Greenfield, MA
City Stage, Springfield, MA
Academy of Music, Northampton, MA
Northampton Center For the Arts
Thornes APE 3rd Floor Performance Space, Northampton, MA
CONFERENCES AND SUMMITS
Evolve Without Borders: An Intergenerational Gathering of Global Theater Artists
6th International Digital Storytelling Conference, UMASS
Annual Healthy Men And Boys Summit, Holyoke Community College
Youth Leadership Forum “Healthy Men And Boys” Treehouse Community
Pa’Lante! A panel Presentation Celebrating Local Latina/o Activism- Amherst College
Basketball Hall of Fame, YES! Youth Conference
Wistariahurs Museum, Holyoke, MA (MASS Cultural Council Event)
New England Public Radio Springfield Grand Opening
Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival 2014, 2016
Flash Mob, 2014
Campaign Nonviolence 2014 - September 21st Street Performance, Springfield
Paul Robeson Social Justice Conference, Boston
Edwards Church Northampton
Unitarian Society, Amherst
Hampshire Jail And House Of Corrections
South Congregational Church
PRESENTATIONS AND WORKSHOPS
Springfield College Dance Department
The Care Center, Holyoke, MA
Upward Bound, Northfield Mount Hermon (2x)
Youth Action Coalition, Amherst
Springfield Public Library
Brattleboro Union High School, Brattleboro, VT
Our Place' Holyoke Shelter (with Paris)
University of New Mexico Theater Department
High Meadows Youth Facility, CT
Student Bridges of UMASS
Woolman Hill Quaker Center
YES! Youth Conference Basketball Hall of Fame
Hope and Inspiration Performing Arts Festival, Roxbury Community College, Boston
WW Johnson Life Center Youth Program
Springfield Substance Abuse Forum
DYS Westfield Youth Detention Center
Gateway Regional Middle school
Franklin County Youth Action Corps
River Valley Academy, Holyoke, MA
Marlboro College (video, lecture, discussion)
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
California College of Arts & Crafts
Hampshire Jail and House Of Corrections