2019 AATE National Conference
August 1-5, 2019

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Keynote 

Lizzy Cooper Davis and Kayhan Irani
Saturday, August 3, 2019, 9:50-10:50 am

Dr. Lizzy Cooper Davis is an artist and scholar interested in how the arts can facilitate community conversation, resistance, and change. Particularly focused on black freedom movements, she has conducted research in Cuba, Brazil, and New Orleans, and her current project examines the cultural workers of the civil rights era. She has trained with Augusto and Julian Boal and used their methods in schools, community centers, and prisons. She is currently working with Jacob's Pillow on "Pitsfield Moves!," a ten-month community engagement project in Berkshire County, and the Dance and Social Change Working Group led by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar and Liz Lerman. Lizzy was the Facilitation Trainer for Anna Deavere Smith's "Notes From the Field: Doing Time in Education" at the American Repertory Theater, a facilitator for the community engagement initiative for Claudia Rankine's play "The White Card" co-produced by the A.R.T and ArtsEmerson, and the humanities scholar and engagement partner for "The Peculiar Patriot" at ArtsEmerson. She also works as a consultant on black cultural history and arts- and values-based organizing with the Urban Bush Women and as a mentor for Live Arts Boston, a project of the Boston Foundation supporting Boston-area performing artists, presenters, and producers.

Lizzy has performed nationally as an actor in such theaters as Second Stage, The Public Theater, The Long Wharf, Berkeley Rep, and The American Repertory Theater and with such directors as Liesl Tommy, Anne Bogart, and Mary Zimmerman. She has also worked in television, film, and radio. Lizzy co-edited Enacting Pleasure: Artists and Scholars Respond to Carol Gilligan's Map of Love (2010), her work on the freedom songs of the civil rights movement appeared in the roots music journal "No Depression," and she contributed a chapter on the Free Southern Theater's Story Circle methodology for the forthcoming volume Creating Space for Democracy: A Primer on Dialogue and Deliberation in Higher Education (Stylus, 2019). Lizzy is an Assistant Professor at Emerson College.

Kayhan Irani is an Emmy-award winning writer, a cultural activist, and a Theater of the Oppressed trainer. She creates art to build community and connect audiences into social justice issues. She regularly partners with NGOs, government agencies, and community-based organizations to use theater and story-based strategies for organizing, engagement, and education.

Kayhan was one of ten artists named by President Obama’s White House as a 2016 White House Champion of Change for her art and storytelling work. In 2010 she won a New York Emmy award for best writing for We Are New York a 9-episode broadcast TV drama (WNYCTV) used as an English language and civic engagement tool for immigrant New Yorkers. She created a linked, community-based conversation initiative that brought thousands of immigrants, throughout the five boroughs, together to practice English in volunteer-led conversation groups, that continues to this day.

In 2012-2013 Kayhan was a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Researcher in India working on her play, Tree of Seeds. Her one-woman show, We've Come Undone toured nationally and internationally, telling stories of Arab, South Asian and Muslim-American women in the wake of 9/11. She has trained hundreds of groups in Theater of the Oppressed and participatory storytelling tools over the years, both nationally and overseas, in Afghanistan, India, and Iraq.

Her published work includes a volume of essays, Telling Stories to Change the World: Global Voices on the Power of Narrative to Build Community and Make Social Justice Claims (Routledge, 2008) and a chapter in Culturally Relevant Arts Education for Social Justice: A Way Out of No Way. (Routledge, 2015).

Kayhan is currently working on a new one-woman show, There is a Portal, an experiment in performance pedagogy for immigrant and refugee youth engagement and community development.


Alexis Roblan and Ty Defoe
Sunday, August 4, 2019, 10:30-11:30 am

Alexis Roblan’s plays include RED EMMA & THE MAD MONK (The Tank, NY Times Critic’s Pick), DAUGHTERS OF LOT (Edinburgh Fringe), COLOR BLUE (Festival de Teatro Alternativo, Bogotá), AND IT SPINS TWICE (FringeNYC), LILIYA (Exquisite Corpse Company), YOU FEEL SO FAR AWAY RIGHT NOW (Finalist, O’Neill National Playwrights Conference), SAMUEL (Finalist, Clubbed Thumb Biennial Commission), and THE ANDREW PLAY (Thomas Barbour Playwrights Award). Originally from Coos Bay, Oregon, she is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s MFA in Dramatic Writing program, and her work has been developed in NYC by companies such as Clubbed Thumb, Ars Nova, Project Y, Exquisite Corpse Company, New Perspectives Theatre Company, The Dennis & Victoria Ross Foundation, and more.


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