This summer, Urban Gateways has embarked on its first international artist exchange.
UG Artist-in-Residence, Amanda Lichtenstein, traveled to a rural village in Tanzania to teach theater and creative writing. Meanwhile, Urban Gateways was thrilled to welcome Tanzanian theater artist Grace Gachocha (seen in picture on right) to Chicago, where she is instructing UG’s Art Options program alongside literary artist Maia Morgan and Digital Sound artist Shawn Wallace. Art Options engages at-risk middle and high school students in an arts apprenticeship that culminates in a community-based arts project.
The exchange was made possible through an International Connections Fund grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in partnership with the International Theater and Literacy Project (ITLP), a New York City-based organization founded in 2005 to provide rural African communities with youth education through theater, and the Greater Auburn Gresham Community Development Corporation.
Grace is having a strong impact on the students she is working with in Chicago’s south side Auburn Gresham neighborhood as she leads them in writing and performing their own theater pieces. Amanda has taken on a similar project in Tanzania and communicates regularly by email with the UG staff:
We decided we’d do a play about HIV/AIDS… but it is also going to be about questions and about a journey, and about being lost in a sea of misinformation, about the desire to be healthy and be loved. We are pushing to make this story personal, as when we asked if any knew someone living with HIV/AIDS, all raised their hands. It’s a lot to take on in 2 weeks, but students are up for the challenge.