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130918 Advance, Community comes together (1a)
130918 Advance, Community comes together (2a)

This video includes highlights from an Aug. 22, 2013 Port Richmond Partnership community theater project carried out by Wagner College's Center for Leadership and Engagement and Kevin Bott, associate director of Imagining America. In collaboration with more than two dozen Port Richmond residents, including members of Eye-Openers Youth Against Violence and a small group of Wagner College students, Bott conducted a series of workshops that focused on identifying and reducing racial tensions in Port Richmond. Participants not only had a chance to voice their experiences through these workshops, but they also were able to deepen relationships with their neighbors.

This project culminated with a presentation to an enthusiastic Friendship Dinner audience of more than 100 people at Port Richmond’s St. Phillip’s Baptist Church in which spectators interrupted the action on stage to bring about more racially harmonious outcomes by becoming part of the performance. They offered alternative approaches to uncomfortable, yet very real, situations. The interaction between the actors and the audience helped to make the performance not only interactive but transformative as they offered other stories.

The event was a huge success, and similar community theater projects are in the works. Many thanks to: Kevin Bott; Project Hospitality; Port Richmond Proud; Eye-Openers Youth Against Violence; Faith United Methodist Church in Port Richmond, where all the rehearsals and workshops were held, and St. Phillips for its ongoing support of this project and the Friendship Dinners. Financial support was provided by the Center for Leadership and Engagement at Wagner College and the New York Council for the Humanities.

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