TE'A at Intersections International: Retrospective and Prospective

In 2009, TE’A and Intersections International joined forces out of a commitment to a two-fold proposition: first, that the Insight approach to conflict resolution could guide the development of a new form of dramatically powerful, documentary-style theatre, and second, that the production and performance of high quality Insight theatre could play a significant role in fulfilling the mission of Intersections to awaken curiosity about different stories and unlikely voices – thereby bridging gaps of misunderstanding, transforming suspicion and hostility, and strengthening the bonds of new relationships, collaborations, and communities. The progress of TE’A in developing Insight theatre has been steady and sustained.

The inaugural piece of Insight theatre created by TE’A was Under the Veil: Being Muslim and non-Muslim in NYC (post 9/11). Drawing on a theatrical style pioneered by Dr. Cydelle Berlin of the S.T.A.R. Program, TE’A transformed Insight conversations conducted by the TE’A Company with Muslims and non-Muslims from across New York City, into dramatically arresting vignettes. Directed by Cheryl Paley, Under the Veil was performed in six states to over 2,000 audience members in venues that included churches, synagogues, mosques, universities, high schools, and traditional theatre venues.

Building on the lessons learned in creating Under the Veil, T’EA embraced larger theatrical and peacebuilding challenges in the creation and production of its second piece of Insight theatre, Cadence: Home. The TE’A Company conducted Insight conversations among the community of veterans returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, and transformed them into a set of fully realized characters in a full-length play that powerfully and effectively dramatized the hopes, fears, challenges, and triumphs of veterans as they seek to return home to their friends, family and former selves. Directed by Michael Goldfried and Stefano Brancato, and with an original musical score by Alexander Gemignani, Cadence: Home was mounted as a site-specific, Equity Showcase at Metro Baptist Church on west 40th Street in New York City. The two-week run played to standing room only audiences that totaled over 500 people.

Building on the lessons learned in creating Cadence: Home, T’EA is currently engaged in the development of a still more challenging piece of Insight theatre under the working title, There is Something About America. Directed by John Gould Rubin, the piece aspires to help transform the current political and cultural polarization of America from a conflict of statement to an encounter of persons. Stay tuned.