Luna Stage Streams The Voting Writes Project
The Voting Writes Project
The ambitious and multifaceted Voting Writes Project at Luna Stage culminates with a final week of streaming the program’s diverse, interdisciplinary content. A celebration of suffrage designed to inspire voter participation, the project included six world premiere short plays, nine community conversations, four commissioned short films, and a nine-song concept album. The series will be available on Luna’s website and social media through November 15, 2020.
Originally intended to be staged throughout New Jersey
communities, the Voting Writes Project pivoted to an online
format with the onset of COVID-19. This allowed Luna Stage to share the stories
on a larger scale than previously imagined; the project features work by
37 artists and has been viewed virtually by over 10,000 people.
“It was truly a privilege to collaborate with artists across the country in building and telling these stories in advance of the 2020 presidential election,” said Artistic Director Ari Laura Kreith, who conceived the Voting Writes Project and facilitated its creation over the course of six months.
Activists, writers, directors, filmmakers, actors and musicians met weekly over Zoom to share personal stories, questions and research around voter engagement and disenfranchisement. This process informed their work as they created pieces 31 distinct pieces exploring civic participation, ranging from a short play set in a dystopian Zoom breakout room, to a documentary film about voting for the first time after incarceration, to a song cycle about voting rights and suppression.
"These stories are revelatory and emboldening," said Maxim Thorne, Managing Director of The Andrew Goodman Foundation, who collaborated with Luna Stage on the project's development.
“The virtual nature this project allowed Luna to deeply engage its mission of sharing local and global stories in a time when we are forced to be physically apart, and to continue bringing communities together for conversations that create understanding and change,” said Kreith.
Luna commissioned six world premiere plays for the project. In Jenny Lyn Bader's My First Time, three stories of political initiation interwoven over 6 decades echo across time and span generations. Rachel Shapiro Cooper's interview-based Another Number in the Pool explores the reasons people don't vote; Amanda Sage Comerford’s Florida! is a fantasia inspired by letters written to voters in swing states; and Bernardo Cubría's The Breakout Room follows non-voters trapped in a Zoom reality. Two solo pieces round out the offerings: Rajesh Bose's solo conversation When They Go Low examines race in America; and Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin’s Count Me In documents voters who learn their ballots were not counted.
Modeled after Woody Guthrie’s Dust Bowl Ballads, writer Jim Knable’s Songs of Suffrage shares history lessons about voting rights and repression, alongside the artist’s personal experiences. The 9-song cycle concept album is accompanied by a series of music videos by filmmaker Joey Yow, showcasing the debut track “Don’t Wait” along with other songs from the album.
Voting Rights films include Teens Talk Voting, based on interviews with teenagers all over the country, and The Power To Vote, a documentary about Boris Franklin registering to vote for the first time after incarceration and reflecting on what voting means to him. These films chronicle voters’ real-life experiences and emotions, and are directed by Maggie Borgen, the latter in collaboration with Ari Laura Kreith and Turron Kofi Alleyne.
Cookin’ Up Votes with Leola features five interviews hosted by "everyone’s favorite senior citizen lesbian from the Okefenokee Swamp" in Georgia, bringing us fireside chats with special guests including Maxim Thorne, Managing Director of the Andrew Goodman Foundation, and Elizabeth Juviler, founder and former Political Director of grassroots activist organization NJ 11th for Change. The satirical interview series features writer and performer Will Nolan as Leola.
The Voting Writes Project featured the work of 20 actors: Amalia Adiv (Portraits US: COVID-19, Verbatim Performance Lab), Rajesh Bose (India Ink, Roundabout Theatre Company), Giuliana Carr (Mrs. Stern Wanders the Prussian State Library, Luna Stage); June Carryl (Mindhunter), Pauline Chalamet (The King of Staten Island, dir. Judd Apatow), comedian Nnamdi Chikezie, karen Eilbacher (Fun Home, Bway National Tour); Leslie Fray (The Sinner), Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin (Ambition, Ars Nova), Marcus D. Harvey (An American Dream, The Old Vic, London), Gary Martins (Twelve Angry Men, Company Theatre Group), Jevonnah Mayo (Mourning Sun, Kampala Int'l Theatre Festival), Isabel Keating (Wicked, Broadway); Janeena Piñero (Drought), Kevin Qian, Alysia Reiner (Orange is the New Black), Roland Ruiz (Boyhood, dir. Richard Linklater), Melissa Schaffer (Windows, Kean Stage), Indika Senanayake (Occupy Your Mind, The Civilians), Rachel B. Shapiro, and Liz Zazzi (The Girl with the High Rouge, NJ Rep).
Directors included Turron Kofi Alleyne, Maggie Borgen, Jessica Brater, Rachel Shapiro Cooper, Alana Dietze, Cara Hinh, and Ari Laura Kreith.
The Voting Writes Project was created in collaboration with the Andrew Goodman Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
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.