Skirball Talks: Agents of Change in an Interdependent World
April 8, 2019
Keynote: Oskar Eustis
Moderator: Laura Flanders
Panelists: Mohsin Mohi Ud Din, Ruchira Gupta, Arturo O’Farrill, Cristal Chanelle Truscott
Closing performance: Staceyann Chin, Martha Redbone, Wallace Michael Shawn, and Shawn Touriz, a student from Maxine Greene High School for Imaginative Inquiry. The performance will be narrated by Anthony Arnove from Voices of A People’s History of the United States
“Agents of Change in an Interdependent World” offers a new and updated view of the concept of “interdependence” for our times. Through a keynote address, a moderated panel discussion, and a performance, activists and leaders addressed the importance of what the late scholar Ben Barber coined “interdependency” in the light of current circumstances. The circumstances we are living in suggest connecting not only "globally," but also across other pressing, emerging, threatening barriers as well.
Our speakers represent the new and inspiring ways in which the arts, culture, and creativity in particular are giving voice to a new generation of activism. They include visionaries, but also the individuals and emerging groups among us who are creating new alliances for change--including some people who aren’t normally thought of as activists. A common thread uniting them all is the conviction that the arts offer a unique way of connecting, of breaking down walls, and inspiring change. Through performance, visual arts, and new media, artists and activists bring together individuals and communities in our interdependent world and tackle some of its most pressing challenges.
This event was free and open to the public and promoted jointly by the Performing Arts Library, NYU, Asia Society, and Voices of a People's History.
By hearing the voices of those who are actually doing the work, we hope to inspire our audience with new models of change and promote new connections among an emerging interdependent community.
Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of the Public Theater. Before joining The Public in 2005, he was Artistic Director at the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, RI, Associate Artistic Director at Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum, and Artistic Director with the Eureka Theatre Company in San Francisco. He has taught at NYU, UCLA, Middlebury College, and Brown University, where he founded and chaired the Trinity Rep/Brown University Consortium for professional theater training.
Laura Flanders, a best-selling author and broadcaster, is host of “The Laura Flanders Show,” a TV and radio program which serves as an online channel for in-depth conversations with forward-thinking people who have real experience of shifting power, from the few to the many, in the worlds of arts, entrepreneurship and politics. She is a contributing writer to The Nation and Yes! magazine (“Commonomics”). She was the founding host of Your Call, on public radio, KALW, and CounterSpin, the nationally-syndicated radio program from the mediawatch group FAIR.
Ruchira Gupta, CEO and founder of the anti-trafficking organization Apne Aap, which serves more than 20,000 at risk and prostituted girls and women and their family members. She is a journalist, social justice activist, and feminist campaigner, has been a visiting professor at NYU and Distinguished Scholar at University of California, Berkeley.
Arturo O’Farrill, Artistic Director and founder of the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the performance, education, and preservation of Afro Latin music. He is a pianist, composer, and educator who recently organized the program Fandango At the Wall which featured 50 artists who came together in performance on both sides of the border barrier at San Diego / Tijuana.
Mohsin Mohi Ud Din, CEO and founder of #MeWe International Inc., which leverages the science of storytelling and communications as a tool for healing, building resilience, and community-building particularly in refugee communities.
Cristal Chanelle Truscott, is a playwright, culture worker and educator who blends academic and pop-culture conversations to examine sociocultural movements. She creates Neo-Spirituals--a’capella musicals--using “Soulwork," the generative methodology she developed from generations-old African American traditions for training artists, building performance and connecting communities. She is an alumna of NYU'S Tisch School of the Arts, a recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award, the 2019 Creative Capital Award, MAP Fund and NEFA National Theatre Project Grant; and, currently Visiting Professor of Community Engaged Practices at George Washington University.
Voices of a People's History, Building on the work of historian Howard Zinn (1922–2010), Voices of a People’s History of the United States brings to light little known voices from U.S. history, including those of women, African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, and laborers. By giving public expression to rebels, dissenters, and visionaries from our past—and present—they work to educate and inspire a new generation of people working for social justice.
Anthony Arnove, Co-Founder, Voices of a People's History of the United States
Anthony Arnove is a producer, writer, and editor. In 2007, Arnove and Howard Zinn cofounded Voices of a People’s History of the United States, a non-profit arts, education, and social justice organization. He wrote, directed, and produced The People Speak with Howard Zinn, and co-edited with Zinn the book Voices of a People’s History of the United States.
Staceyann Chin, Spoken-Word Poet, Performing Artist, LGBT Rights Political Activist
Staceyann Chin is a highly respected spoken-word poet, performing artist and LGBT rights political activist. In 2009, Chin performed in The People Speak, a documentary feature film that uses dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans, based on historian Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.
Martha Redbone, American Blues and Soul Singer
Martha Redbone is an American blues and soul singer of part Cherokee, Choctaw, European and African-American descent. Her music is a mix of rhythm and blues, and soul music influences, fused with elements of traditional Native American music. Martha Redbone and Grammy-winner Aaron Whitby just received the 2019 Creative Capital Award for “Daughters of the Hills”, a new interdisciplinary musical theater work that brings to light parts of American history that have never been told.
Wallace Michael Shawn, Actor, Playwright, Essayist
Wallace Michael Shawn is an American character actor, voice actor, playwright and essayist.
Shawn Touriz, Student, Maxine Greene High School for Imaginative Inquiry
Shawn Touriz is a student at Maxine Greene High School for Imaginative Inquiry. His dream is to become a professional actor and filmmaker.