Finding Community in Social Distance
From the beginning, Bond Street Theatre excited me with their commitment to using theatre as a tool for change. I learned of the organization through a passion for empathy, conflict resolution and the power of theatre. During my final year at Grinnell College, I conducted a research project with my advisor, Dr. John Garrison, about the power of performance as a tool for peace. While researching All My Sons, the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace and “Give Peace a Chance,” I delved into non-profit organizations that utilize performance to explore social justice themes. I discovered Bond Street Theatre and, as I learned more about their incredible work, I decided to reach out to get involved. I am very thankful that I did.
Although I initially expected to be in New York City with the team, the pandemic shaped my experience into a virtual summer internship. This, however, did not take away from the incredible relationships and essential skills I developed over the course of three months. I stepped into a community that welcomed me and my ideas, encouraging me to learn and grow. I researched countries for grant proposals, developed a new Twitter strategy, and conducted grant research. My biggest project grew out of my desire to build connection and accountability despite physical distance. Bond Street has an incredible network of past interns who share strong beliefs in the power of theatre and its place in changing the world. I wanted to bring together the youth members on a monthly basis to discuss current social issues, brainstorm ideas, and explore ways that the organization’s work could evolve. Our first meeting took place at the end of July, when we all came together to share anti-racism resources and explore our role as individuals and members of Bond Street in the fight for racial justice.
My internship may have ended in August, but my involvement with Bond Street is far from over. The Youth Group continues to meet monthly as new interns lead discussions on issues close to their heart. The Bond Street community is not a stranger to distance and the conducting of important projects across borders, so this group easily maintains an honest and open space for Bond Street-related brainstorming, personal project development, and essential conversations with like-minded artists. Tim Steckler, a fellow Bond Street Youth member, came to the group with a desire to create a space where theatre can be used as a tool to explore anti-racist allyship. Now, Theatre for Anti-Racist Allyship (TARA) meets weekly where we discuss important texts, learn together about our roles in working towards a more compassionate, just world, and develop theatre techniques that can be used to explore anti-racist allyship. Personally, I hope for more domestic Bond Street programming in the future and I continue to develop ideas that may one day be implemented into a project stateside. I am beyond grateful for the community I found in Bond Street, the amazing friendships that have developed out of the Youth Group, and the commitment we all have to develop projects that combine performance and social change. I look forward to seeing how Bond Street Theatre and all those who support it will continue to create projects that prove performance is a strong, essential tool for the peace-making we all wish to see in the world.