Secret Cities: Voting Writes
Luna Stage has been awarded an Art Works Grant by the National Endowment for the Arts for its upcoming work Secret Cities: Voting Writes, a series of plays and songs investigating the roots of voter apathy and activation. This project is created in partnership with the Andrew Goodman Foundation, a nationwide philanthropic group dedicated to promoting voting rights and encouraging civic participation.
In 2018, Luna launched the Secret Cities initiative, commissioning playwrights and musicians to create work based on oral histories. Voting Writes is Luna’s fourth and largest Secret Cities project and its first collaboration with a partner organization. This project will examine the history of voter marginalization and activism in New Jersey.
“I’m very excited about collaborating with Luna Stage on Voting Writes,” said Maxim Thorne (below), Managing Director of The Andrew Goodman Foundation. “These stories are revelatory and emboldening, allowing young people to experience the power of theatre, and to share and learn about our complex and fraught relationship to voting, especially for youth of color. This is so important as America is now gripped by young people uprising in response to the repeated horrors birthed by systemic racism and its threats to our democracy and their very lives. How they link their activism to voting is essential to the preservation and course correction of our democracy.”
"We are deeply grateful to the NEA for their support at this pivotal time in our country's history," says Luna Stage Artistic Director Ari Laura Kreith (left). "Voting Writes explores voter suppression and suffrage through history, examines experiences of apathy and activation in this present moment, and celebrates the power of the individual voter to impact our electoral process and indeed democracy itself. It is our fervent hope that this interactive, virtual and site-specific experience will inspire civic engagement, and ensure that every voice is heard and counted."
In the wake of COVID-19, Luna Stage is altering plans for Voting Writes to ensure artist and audience safety. Originally planned to take place on Luna’s stages and in community centers, Voting Writes will now be presented both virtually and in person.
Virtual offerings include four short plays written for online performance and three scripted interactive Zoom performances. These Zoom experiences will focus on voting by mail and voter engagement, featuring a “town hall” with a mock candidate. Luna will also release four original songs on its website in conjunction with the project, including one written specifically for community sing-along.
Audiences will also be able to attend an outdoor drive-by live performance, with attendees on foot or in vehicles. Voter registration opportunities and make-a-plan-to-vote strategies will be offered in conjunction with the events, currently scheduled for September.
The newly-announced NEA Art Works grant of $10,000 will help Luna fund payment for artists involved in the project. Kreith will collaborate with these writers, composers, and performers, guiding each of the pieces toward a unified whole. The program aims to represent and engage nearby communities that have historically varied in voter turnout and political activism.
Find more information on Voting Writes and Luna Stage at www.lunastage.org.
About Luna Stage
Luna Stage develops and produces vibrant plays about local and global experiences. Firmly rooted in New Jersey's Valley Arts District—a crossroads of cultures—Luna brings its communities together for artistic events that spark conversations and create understanding and change.
Luna Stage is the recipient of the 2019 People's Choice Award for Favorite Small Theatre in New Jersey. Luna has contributed to the development of over 100 new works for the stage, many of which premiered at Luna and have gone on to be produced in New York, regionally and internationally.
As producer, innovator, and educator, Luna is dedicated to eliminating barriers to participation and allowing all community members to nurture their own creativity and vision. Luna offers classes for children and adults, as well as opportunities for early-career and established theatre artists to develop and incubate new work.