Arden/Everywhere runs Oct 8-28 (Thurs-Sun) at Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York City!
For tickets and more info, visit http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/bpac

65 Million People

According to the UNHCR, that’s how many displaced people there are worldwide right now. The number is shocking, also too big to grasp. Rather than describing the experiences of fellow human beings, it quickly becomes an abstraction. Our national conversation is paralyzed – caught between overwhelming statistics of misery on one side, and nativist fear-mongering on the other. As the national attempt to respond to the crisis descends into acrimony and chaos, perhaps the only way to escape this paralysis is through stories that connect us to its human dimensions.

“Arden/Everywhere” re-imagines Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” as a story about refugees. It unlocks this beloved comedy’s deepest heartbeat to tell a distinctly contemporary story – one that looks into a world of dislocation and exile to discover resilience, reconciliation and love. Performed by a cast of professional actors alongside non-professionals from the refugee and immigrant community, it unleashes theater’s unique ability to awaken empathy, locating our common humanity in the face of a seemingly incomprehensible global catastrophe.

“As You Like It,” A Reframing

A good and gentle leader has been overthrown in a coup. His daughter must run away or be killed. She disguises herself as a man in order to protect herself while she searches for safety. In a world of political instability where brother is plotting to kill brother, people from all walks of life are trying to escape danger and make a life in exile in the woods.

"As You Like It," A Reframing
Souleymane Bah, Victor Flores, Jorge Pluas, Louis Sallan

“As You Like It” is a play redolent with themes of exile, yet often in production they take a backseat to its love story. Still rooted in Shakespeare’s text, the radical shift of “Arden/Everywhere” comes from taking seriously the stakes of the characters’ circumstances and making that the spine of the story. By bringing questions of exile and dislocation to the fore, the project re-imagines this familiar story filled with beloved characters, making it new and essential for a contemporary audience.

Radical Democracy

It is crucial that this story be told by a diverse company, for a diverse audience, including both traditional theatergoers, and immigrants and former refugees. Rich with non-verbal storytelling, music and movement, this production will actively welcome audiences unfamiliar with the play. An audience is a community, forged among strangers through the experience of sharing a story. When important truths are told on stage, it reverberates far beyond the walls of the theater, for both the theater makers and the audience. In the face of the worst crisis of displacement since World War II, people are craving a way to humanize the refugee experience. “Arden/Everywhere” offers just such an opportunity.

About Us

Director Jessica Bauman has been developing this production through research, workshops and outreach to refugee communities since early 2015. She has directed a workshop for New Feet Productions and a Drama League “Rough Draft” residency. Her work with refugee communities in New York includes teaching drama workshops in ESL classes at Catholic Charities and the International Center, and at the IRC’s Refugee Youth Summer Academy. In May 2016 she taught a two-week theater workshop with 40 refugees at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya through international NGO Film Aid. In the fall of 2016, she began a partnership with Baruch Performing Arts Center, teaching a Workshop for Immigrant Actors to train possible cast members for a full production.

Jessica Bauman is a director and teacher based in Brooklyn. As a director, she divides her theatrical energies between classical verse and developing new plays. Jessica is the founding Artistic Director of New Feet Productions, for which she directed and produced Into the Hazard (Henry 5), her own six-actor adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry V, as well as the world premieres of All Day Suckers by Susan Dworkin, Milk by Emily DeVoti (co-produced with New Georges) and Leave the Balcony Open by Maya MacDonald. She collaborated with The New Book Press to create WordPlay Shakespeare, a revolutionary new way of reading Shakespeare, blending video and text in electronic books (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet, all available on iTunes.) Other video work includes original, satirical Alcohol Education Videos for incoming freshman at Yale University. Jessica’s work has been seen at Juilliard, New Georges, 3LD, Rosalind Productions, the Spoleto Festival, the Huntington Theatre in Boston, and Amphibian Stage Productions in Ft Worth , TX.

Next Steps

Spring/Summer 2017:

  • Building support from funders and allies for the project from the theater, refugee advocacy and refugee communities
  • Continue developing theatrical work through collaboration with designers and short workshops, including a retreat in early summer

Fall, 2017:

  • Full production at Baruch College Performing Arts Center, Oct 8-28 (Thursday through Sunday). More details and tickets: http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/bpac

We are committed to:

  • Hospitality for a broad audience through affordable tickets, PR and marketing outreach, multi-lingual program notes and other sources of support for new audiences
  • Related programming: performances of original material created by the company, panel discussions with experts, audience talk-backs
  • Providing information and connections for audience members interested in pursuing support of refugees in their own community and internationally
  • Partnerships with related organizations: USA for UNHCR, Baruch College and other CUNY schools
  • While “Arden/Everywhere” will begin in New York, it will ultimately tour or replicate in other communities working to integrate refugees into their social fabric, both in the US and internationally.