One of the most popular Art & Spirit Coffeehouse programs returns Wednesday, June 5 with two original one-act plays by the popular Voices of Now, an Arena Stage program for young actors from the Mentor and Jefferson Middle School ensembles.  Many of the student actors are southwest residents.  The Coffeehouse is at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church at 600 M Street, SW and the performance begins at 7:00 p.m. The event is free and includes coffee and desserts plus a Q&A with the actors at the end of the program. voicesofnow1

The two ensembles are among the 13 ensembles in the Voices of Now, a year-long, internationally recognized drama program designed by Arena Stage’s Ashley Forman ten years ago.

Voices of Now utilize creative writing, improvisation, collaboration, movement and acting to devise autobiographical theater pieces with ensembles made up of middle school, high school and adult artists. Each ensemble’s play poses difficult social questions relevant to the artists’ communities and investigates those questions using the artists’ personal stories.

“Power Play” by the Ensemble Members explores such questions as “Where do you first learn what power is and how to use it? What do you have control over? When does it feel like you are being played with by greater powers? How do you overcome a past and prepare for a future?”

The Mentor Ensemble is comprised of artists who have previously participated in the Voices of Now program with another ensemble. The mentors have two jobs: first, to guide a new group of young artists through the demanding artistic process of the Voices of Now program; second, to serve as artistic role models by creating and performing their own one-act play.

Members of the Mentor Ensemble are Ky’Lend J. Adams, Quiera Alvarez, John Anderson, Jazzmin Camara, DeLante Fludd, Monique Garey, Micah Golphin, Ellie Milewski, Jamir Nelson, Kate Poms, Shakira Reed, Grace Rihl, and Tristan Varma.

The Directors and Devisers are Ashley Forman, Mitch Mattson, Fareed Mostoufi and Ariel Warmflash.  Roc Lee is the Composer and sound Designer for the Mentor Ensemble. voicesofnow2

The one-act play, “Security Blanket” by the Jefferson Middle School Ensemble includes Dannielle Crutchfield, Rayna Gross, Selina Jones Denitra McDonald, Amari McFadden, Jaida Murray, Samya Queen

Maya Shaw, and Natori White. They explore questions such as how much control do kids have over their own safety?  How do you keep yourself safe?  And what is your responsibility to someone else’s safety?

The Directors and Devisers for the Jefferson Ensemble are Ashley Forman, Psalmayene 24 and Fareed Mostoufi.

Arena’s Forman said, “Voices of Now ensembles have appeared with the Art & Spirit Coffeehouse for several years, and each performance has been an eye-opening evening.  Don’t miss this phenomenal theatrical experience!”

The Southwest Episcopal Church’s Art & Spirit Coffeehouse series opens on the first Wednesday of each month to showcase local artists in their various media as they perform and share how their faith, art and social worldview intersect, according to the Rev. Martha Clark, Priest-in-Charge at St. Augustine’s.  Donations will be accepted to help provide honoraria for the guest artists.  Contact rector@staugustinesdc.org, 202-554-3222 or visit www.staugustinesdc.org for further information.

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