Los Otros is a compelling musical that addresses themes of cultural curiosity, “othering” and the universal need to embrace love and build family, even when they show up in unconventional ways. Asserting our belief that theatre can spark dialogue, build community, and deepen much needed empathy across cultural differences, Everyman’s Community Engagement department explored “Othering and Belonging” with community partners via workshops, a film screening and our signature panel discussion, The World of the Play, which brought together a dynamic panel with guest moderator, Dr. Kimberly Moffitt, UMBC. Listen to the probing conversation about Los Otros between Edgar Reyes (artist/activist), Katie Miller (educator/organizer) and Scott Patterson (composer/musician) on the The Marc Steiner Show WEAA 88.9.
We have woven creative connections between the production’s thematic thread of ‘othering and belonging’ and the social fabric that makes up the mission of the following partners:
Beyond Stereotypes: Re-defining Images of Young Men of Color—a film and education tool that challenges representations of African-American and Latino male identity in America.
MICA’s MFA in Community Arts—a graduate program that prepares artists to define their art practice as a means of civic empowerment, community organizing, activism and education.
The Teacher Exchange—an innovative strategy to engage young people in their own education by having them act as coaches to new teachers.
Expanding on topics of inclusiveness and belonging that are explored in Los Otros, Everyman Theatre hosted a short film screening and discussion. Beyond Stereotypes: Redefining Images of Young Men of Color was led by project curator and educator Dr. LaMarr D. Shields (CEO, Cambio Group) and Alexander James (Filmmaker and CEO, Zikhi Productions). The film juxtaposes interviews of young men from diverse and contending backgrounds with insights from parents, educators and leading scholars including Dr. Kevin Washington, Professor in Counseling Psychology, Howard University; Dr. Cristobal Rodriguez, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Howard University; Joseph Colon, Director of Multicultural Affairs, Johns Hopkins University; and Dr. Omar Simpson, Assistant Director, Hop-in—Center for Student Success.
These men formed a panel to answer questions about how to validate important aspects of the identities of young men of color “beyond stereotypes.” Said one mother after the event, “Having a platform to share hopes and fears about raising a black son in a world that is very often prejudicially hostile to him was a gift. We need more forums like this!” The evening ended on a defiant and hopeful note with a spoken word performance by hip hop artist Fortune (Baltimore School for the Arts).
Paula Phillips, faculty and co-leader of the MFA program in Community Arts at MICA said, “Both the musical and the workshop Everyman Community Engagement staff provided our students were thought-provoking in form and content; and as a team you worked as a unit as though you had been facilitating together for years: smooth, confident and knowledgeable about the cultural competency and identity questions that came up. The interactive quality of your process and path was definitely on point for our students.”
Dr. LaMarr D. Shields is the driving force behind The Teacher Exchange program via his Open Society Institute, Baltimore Community Fellowship. “We never ask students what it takes to engage them,” says Shields. “They may or may not always understand the lesson, but they do understand relationships.” Having both students and teachers experience a participatory theatre workshop together allowed for “...an exchange of ideas, of culture, of positions” says Shields. “Both students and teachers will find themselves teaching and learning from each other… Moving forward, we want to develop a repertoire of scenes with Everyman staff about teacher/student interactions where we can develop empathy for each others’ challenges by standing in the shoes of ‘the other’ through theatre."
As we get ready to announce our next season, we will continually look for creative connections between "the art" and the work of community partners. As has been true for Los Otros, the power of theatre resides in its ability to hold space for multiple perspectives and goals. The play and its themes served as a catalyst for the creation of community forums, graduate school curriculum and professional development for public school teachers, all in meaningful collaboration with innovative partners.