ITLP Teaching Artists at World's First International Teaching Artist Conference

September 1, 2012 - ITLP Teaching Artists Eric Booth and Grace Gachocha participated in the International Teaching Artist Conference in Oslo, Norway, which was held from August 29 to 31, 2012. Presented by SEANSE ART CENTER, it represented the first international conference to focus on teaching artistry and drew artists, arts educators, administrators and interested professionals from around the world.

Eric Booth, a renowned teaching artist and international consultant – often called the father of the teaching artist profession – delivered the opening key note on Wednesday, August 29, titled The Teaching Artist Call and Competence as well as the closing address, Teaching Artists in the International community – what now?

Grace Gachocha, ITLP’s 2012 Program Director in Tanzania, presented a practical teaching artist session on Teaching Artist Program Theatre with Amandina Lihamba, a theatre professor from Tanzania, to illuminate the distinctive cultural context and purpose of the work in their country.

Eric and Grace first met as co-faciliators of ITLP’s 2008 summer workshops in Tanzania, an experience Grace refers to as transformative in realizing her true self and her career as an arts educator.

Read more about Grace in our Volunteers section.

Update from the ITLP summer 2012

July 6, 2012 - Two teams of ITLP teaching artists are currently in Arusha, Tanzania and Cape Town, South Africa, working with over a hundred students and local teachers to create amazing, outspoken, personal, original plays and at the same time – developing English fluency and literacy, developing independent thinking and nurturing self-empowerment. Later this month, another team will depart for Rwanda. Here are some messages from the field:

A note from Tanzania by the ITLP Director, Grace Gachocha:

"The Tanzania ITLP team set off on an adventure with their students and now are getting closer to the treasure of performance. It hasbeen very interesting to see them engaging their students in different theatrical games and writing prompts. The classes would come alive with song and dance and leave the Form 2 students at Nkoanrua who are doing extra classes during the break all gaping and staring through the windows.

They have taken many paths of themes and eventually have decided on the path that is leading them to performance. St. Margaret’s: Stories - the gift of stories, Nkoanrua Form 3: Betrayal - political betrayal, love betrayal, and lastly Form 4: Romance, forced marriage and parental control.

This jungle is so beautiful and as a bird flying high in the sky I cannot wait to see them get to their TREASURE! - Grace"

Post-performance commentary by ITLP Teaching Artist Juan Manzo:

"The shows at Patandi were fantastic and the students performed to a full audience.  We had a group of students who are staying at Mama Simba’s other lodge as part of Global Leadership Adventures and they were blown away by the work.  One of them even said “Their English is so good!” after one of the shows, which thrilled our students. It was beyond touching to see how proud the students are of their work and how fully they take ownership of it. Pure magic.

Now we're looking forward to their final show on Tuesday with Mama Marianna.  Our final rehearsal on Friday was in front of hundreds of students who were at the school picking up report cards, so I think they have a heads up on what to expect.  So excited to see how it grows in their third performance. - Juan"

Learn more about Grace, Juan and their team in Tanzania here and find further photos and updates from the field on this blog by teaching artist Farah Bala (Tanzania, 2012)


A note from South Africa by ITLP Teaching Artist Judy Tate:

"The kids came together yesterday and we did a stumble-through of all the work created so far.  They were inspired by seeing each others’ work and our partners at the schools and JazzArt have been taking note of our practice of praising each other before critique.  Jackson, the iThemba LaBantu drama teacher made a note of that yesterday to all the kids.

The show is called Rising Voices.  It is a collage play that expresses who the kids feel they are, what they want their voices to say, where they come from and how they feel about their place in the world.

In Khayelitsha and Philippi, you will see some of the worst poverty on the planet and some of the wealthiest spirit. Rei’s marvelous photos are just the tip of the iceberg. He has many, many more. He has a keen eye and good sense of what's important to film.

The kids are respectful, lively, resourceful and enthusiastic. They are also deeply appreciative of the experience as we are of their full-hearted participation. Our partners at JazzArt and the schools are also good collaborators.  More details later on exactly how it panned out, but know your project has been well-rendered and prepared to be moved and amazed by what we always suspected were the most talented, if needy, kids on the planet.    xoxo Judy"

Post-performance commentary by ITLP Teaching Artist Stephen DiMenna:

“Yesterday's performance was an unbelievable success for the kids and their community. African mothers weeping openly like at a funeral at the truth and power of their children’s words. When, in the closing, three actors said "I am from Chris Hani, Steven Biko and Nelson Mandela" and the group sung a Xhosa song about freedom, the audience rose to its feet, clapping and dancing.

Mzi from Jazzart turned to me at the back and said "WOW I've never seen anything like this with students!"

The drama teacher at iThemba Labantu community center where we did the performance said "I'm speechless. You brought something out in my students I've never seen."

I can't begin to tell you how moving this experience was for me. I'm actually tearing up just writing about it. These are some of the poorest young people I've seen and yet the richest in desire, talent, courage and spirit. This is fertile soil for ITLP not only because of the kids but because of the wonderful adults who give them so much of their time, at Jazzart and at iThemba Labantu. That place is the kind of Arts/community center you talked about building in Tanzania. Well, here it is and it needs ITLP badly. - Stephen"

Learn more about ITLP’s South Africa teamhere and find more photos and updates.


You can also follow the teams‘ progress on our Facebook page.


While US teaching artists are conducting playwriting and theatre workshops in Tanzania, three Tanzanian children are enjoying a summer in the United States.

Thanks to the ITLP Nowicki Scholarship, now in its third year, three ITLP graduates from the Tanzanian middle school St Margaret’s Academy are attending Camp Treetops in upstate New York.

Elias has returned to the camp for a second year, having become a favorite with the camp staff and fellow campers in 2011, an experience he described as “the most fun, happiest seven weeks I have ever had.” Evaline and Abdinuru are joining him on what is their first trip abroad.



ITLP Teams arrive in Tanzania and South Africa

June 22, 2012 - Two teams of ITLP teaching artists arrived in Tengeru, Tanzania, and Cape Town, South Africa today, where they were met by their local colleagues. For two weeks, the teams will be working with over a hundred students to write and produce original performances.

Read updates from the field on this blog by teaching artist Farah Bala (Tanzania, 2012) and look at photos from Cape Town.

ITLP's Rwanda Team meets ASYV Students in NY

May 20, 2012 - ITLP's 2012 Rwanda team got to meet with some of the students from the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) in New York last week, in advance of their summer theatre residency.

Five students from ITLP's Rwandan partner school - three of which participated in ITLP's theatre workshop last year - spent a week in the USA raising awareness and funds for their village.

They took a Friday afternoon to meet up with the ITLP team in Manhattan's Theatre District. The children reunited with last year's Program Director Didi Goldenhar and ITLP Executive Director Marianna Houston, and were introduced to Channie Waites, Lea Wülferth and Patrick Crowley, who will be working at their school this summer.

The team was greeted with hugs and the songs the students had written for their 2011 play "We Stood Up." Over the next two hours, the group got to know each other not only through mutual questions, but through a number of fun warmups, theatre games and joint writing exercises, which left everyone excited for the summer.

Read more about our 2012 teams here.


ITLP invited to World Literacy Summit in Oxford

April 16, 2012 - ITLP Founder and Executive Director Marianna Houston was invited to speak at the World Literacy Summit held at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, from April 1-4.

Like ITLP, the World Literacy Summit recognizes the crucial role of literacy in helping the world’s most disadvantaged people move from a world of poverty to a future of greater health and economic prosperity. The event aims to build greater awareness of the international literacy crisis – nearly 800 million people are illiterate – and to create a platform for leaders from around the world in the fields of literacy and development to collaborate, share ideas, learn from one another and be united in a call to action and a plan for change.

Marianna held an interactive session on “Theatre as a Tool for Literacy,” in which she introduced the theatre workshop as a model for helping students to communicate more easily in English and give them ownership of the language. Her presentation opened with a short film about the work of the International Theatre & Literacy Project in developing countries. She also involved the audience in a set of lively on-your-feet theatre exercises, followed by a discussion about the value of theatre with multiple populations across the literacy spectrum.

The event was a great opportunity for ITLP to take part in this global initiative and to make new connections with professionals and academics from around the world.


ITLP announces 2012 Summer Programs and Teams

April 12, 2012 - ITLP is planning an exciting summer for 2012, reaching more children in more countries than ever before.

A team of ITLP teaching artists will return to our two partner schools in Tanzania, Nkoanrua Secondary School and St. Margaret's Academy, marking our eighth consecutive year in Tanzania. We will also be continuing our work in Rwanda at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, a progressive residential community for children orphaned by the 1994 genocide.

The ITLP Nowicki Scholarship will once more give ITLP graduates from the Tanzanian middle school St. Margaret’s Academy a chance to attend Camp Treetops in upstate New York.

Finally, we are proud to announce a new partnership with JazzArt in South Africa, a dance company committed to working with young people and serving marginalized communities.

Following a rigorous application process and series of auditions, ITLP is also pleased to introduce its 2012 teams who will be conducting workshops in Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania. Learn more about this year's volunteers here!


ITLP at NYC Arts in Education Conference

February 24, 2012 - The International Theatre and Literacy Project presented a panel on arts education in developing countries at the most recent Face to Face Conference in New York City.

Hosted by the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable and held at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School, educators and artists came together for two days of panel discussions, workshops, hands-on activities and networking on February 22 and 23, 2012.

ITLP was represented by its Founder and Executive Director Marianna Houston as well as ITLP Teaching Artists Eric Booth, Nilaja Sun and Steven DiMenna. They presented a panel, Taking Arts Education to the Developing World.

Starting with a short film of one of ITLP’s theatre workshops in Tanzania and drawing on their experiences in bringing in-depth theatre residencies to children in India, Rwanda, Tanzania and elsewhere, they shared insights, strategies and activities that have been effective with these populations. The panelists considered some of the hard questions that may arise when working in unfamiliar cultures. For example, if the “call to action” is to “express your unique self,” what if the society does not value the individual over the group? How do you equip young people for the future and empower the individual in a country, town or region devoid of opportunities?

In a lively discussion, that included the conference attendees, ITLP was able to provide some answers on how to introduce new, alternative models of education and behavior into relatively rigid, test-score-focused systems of education – through the arts.

Photo by Gabe Gomez and Julian Melendez

About the Face to Face Conference:
The annual Face to Face Conference is the leading arts-in-education conference in the New York City area. Attendees enjoy two days of panel discussions, workshops, hands-on activities, and networking with colleagues working in the field of arts education.

About the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable:
The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable improves, advances, and advocates for arts education. We are a community of organizations that shares information, provides professional development, and communicates with the public to promote our work in schools and beyond.


New Documentary on ITLP's Work in Tanzania released

December 5, 2012 - The Sky is so Far from the Land, Rebecca Blumhagen's inspiring documentary about ITLP's 2011 playwriting workshops in Tanzania, can now be viewed on our website. In a place where there is currently no government funding for arts programs, and the education system is a kickback to the test-driven system that was established during British Colonialism, this film explores the universal need for theatre arts, storytelling, and the power of discovering individual voice for the human spirit.


Marianna Houston awarded Honorary Membership for Golden Key Honours Society

November 14, 2011 - ITLP founder and Executive Director Marianna Houston was awarded Honorary Membership for the Golden Key International Honour Society at the 2011 Induction Ceremony at CUNY Baruch College on November 11.

Golden Key is one of the largest, most renowned international honour societies with 400 chapters in eight countries around the world. Since it was established, Golden Key has recognized more than 10 million undergraduate and graduate students for their intellectual achievements. In addition, it has awarded $8 million in scholarships and awards to members in all fields of study.

Marianna was honored for her effort and utilization of art in the life of others. She received her award from Robert Smith of Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs.

Following fellow honorary Professor Elliot Axelrod’s keynote speech, certificates were given out to the new inductees of the honour society. In his closing address, Brian Lung, the president at Golden Key’s Baruch College Chapter, said: “I congratulate each one of you for being amongst the few individuals who have achieved this level of success.”


ITLP's Stefan Nowicki is the WSJ's Donor of the Day

June 24, 2011 - ITLP made the news with an impressive article in The Wall Street Journal about our esteemed Board member Stefan Nowicki, who was identified as the WSJ "Donor of the Day." Read the full article here.









Marianna Houston receives AAUW Legacy Ambassador Award

February 27, 2011 - Marianna Houston was honored for her work as founder of ITLP by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), who presented their Legacy Ambassador Award for Leadership to Marianna in a ceremony at their New York headquarters on February 27.

She was recognized by the association for moving their mission of “advancing education & equity for women & girls” forward.

Since 1881, AAUW has been one of the nation’s leading voices promoting education and equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research, and a nationwide network of more than 100,000 members and donors, 1,000 branches and 500 college/university institutional partners.


The International Theatre & Literacy Project Receives MacArthur Foundation Grant

April 2009 - The International Theatre & Literacy Project, in partnership with the Urban Gateways Center for Arts Education of Chicago, has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation's Chicago International Connections Fund.

The grant will be used to fund a University of Dar a Salaam theater arts student from Tanzania joining Urban Gateways in Chicago this summer as a primary theater teaching artist, and allow an Urban Gateways teaching artist to join The International Theatre & Literacy Project's summer 2009 programs in Arusha, Tanzania.

ITLP and Urban Gateways use the power of the arts to open new educational horizons in school-based and community settings. Urban Gateways is the oldest and largest multidisciplinary arts organization in Chicago, and The International Theatre & Literacy Project is a leader in developing models of theater-based education in developing nations.

"ITLP has brought some of the most talented arts educators in the United States to East Africa, and having Urban Gateways join us is another great step forward," said Marianna Houston, ITLP's Executive Director, "but this is also the first opportunity we've had to bring an African artist to the United States -- that will be such an exciting experience for everyone involved."

"There is so much that we share about our missions," Julie Simpson, Executive Director of Urban Gateways said, "we're thrilled to welcome the new artistic perspectives that will come from an exchange with ITLP."

The MacArthur Foundation grant is another achievement in a year of strong growth for ITLP, which recently sent out acceptances for its 2009 teaching artist roster.


Read about ITLP's events here.

Membership for the Golden Key International Honour Society