The Imaginists and Teatro Jornalero Sin Fronteras (TJSF) of Cornerstone Theater, based in Los Angeles, were awarded a grant from the Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET) to engage in a week long exchange, that took place June 16 – 22, 2013. The companies shared methodologies and began the process of creating a new piece together. Community participants from the Graton Day Labor Center, the North Bay Organizing Project and the Imaginists’ Bayer Farm collaborators were also invited to participate in the exchange.
NET: A national coalition of ensembles created by and for artists, the Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET) exists to propel ensemble theater practice to the forefront of American culture and society. NET links a diverse array of ensembles and practitioners to one another and the performing arts field, encouraging collaborations and knowledge building and dissemination. NET is committed to the advancement of the ensemble form and strives to bring about change in the world through the transformative power of collaborative theater. NET supports bold artistic and civic experiments and aims to heighten the impact and excellence of ensemble theater.
Teatro Jornalero Sin Fronteras (TJSF) is a Los Angeles-based ensemble theater group made up of day laborers whose mission is to improve the lives of day laborers everywhere through the creation of plays by and for the day labor community, over 25,000 strong in the LA area. Responding to an often degrading and hostile work environment and an increasingly anti-immigrant climate nationally, the troupe uses theater, music and dialogue to educate immigrant workers about their rights; inspire day laborers to use theater as a tool for change-making; empower the community by reflecting their stories in their own voices; and humanize the immigration debate for the community at large. Since the fall of 2008, the ten-member troupe has developed fifteen short plays examining social justice issues such as worker and immigrant rights, building healthy families and workplaces, and exploring the creation of transnational cultures. TJSF performs its plays at sites where day laborers gather, mainly the 14 day labor centers supported by the City of Los Angeles.
During the last year Teatro Jornalero Sin Fronteras has expanded its work to both Northern California and El Salvador.
The purpose of the NET Touring & Exchange Network (NET/TEN) grant program is to share techniques, inspiration, expertise, and performances among ensembles in the United States, in order to strengthen the work of individual ensembles and the field as a whole. The Imaginists and TJSF were one of eleven proposals selected from 39 diverse projects across the nation in a highly competitive pilot round.
14 members of TJSF traveled to Santa Rosa for a week long exchange with Imaginists core company to develop a new piece and share methods and experiences of working with community. Community participants from Graton Day Labor Center and the Imaginists’ Bayer Farm collaborators also participated in the exchange. At the end of the week we held an open performance of the work we created during the week.
We hope this is the beginning of a lasting relationship with TJSF. The work that both companies have been engaged in is unique and valuable to the communities that are our collaborators. Sharing and documenting our successes and failures, and investigating new ways of working will propel the work to new places.
Read more about our collaboration in the SF Bay Guardian - Labors of Love
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