Art for Peace: A Poet's Voyage to Israel

This is a guest post by Yael Miriam.
You may remember me as one of March’s Poets with Chutzpah. For years I’ve been writing, slamming, spinning and emoting on stage in the U.S.A. (NY and MN primarily).
Now I’m off to help Israeli and Arab communities in Israel use theatre, movement and role-playing to raise awareness, empathy and inclusivity. But I need your help – emotionally, spiritually, and financially.
It has become increasingly more difficult for me to categorize myself and my career with each new project and new passion. So, when I tell someone that I am an actress/poet/educator/activist/social change agent it is a fair response to say, “prove it”. How can one individual be all of these things at once?
For some time I was not. My focus was split and often my energy was being robbed from me in transition. From the mundane tasks like spending hours riding the subway and responding to emails, to going from one freelance job to the next, writing and writing and writing, and fighting to stay afloat in New York City. I wanted to scream out, “Come on G-D, I’m just trying to change the world and make some art that matters. Help me out!
You see, I believe in the profound—and I don’t use that word lightly— transformational impact of art to confront injustice and mobilize communities to create lasting change. I am dedicated, personally and professionally, to such art, social change, and tikkun olam (repairing the world.) My aspiration is to develop creative projects with global impact, using applied theater to empower communities in need and promote dialogue regarding discrimination and peace. That shouldn’t be too hard, right?
“Applied theater” involves using theatrical performance techniques for building awareness and promoting social responsibility, i.e., for empowering community members, mobilizing community development and effecting social change. Theater methodology has the unique ability to bridge language and culture, thereby facilitating universal exploration and potential dialogue. In my experience, art, particularly performance based, is a powerful tool for engendering the trusting atmosphere necessary to overcome obstacles for creative problem solving.
So what’s next? I am a proud recipient of the Dorot Fellowship and I am heading to Israel. While in Israel I intend to conduct research and develop exploratory workshops within communities endangered by violence and discrimination. These workshops would use applied theater methods to explore the complex relationship between Jews and Arabs through educational role-play, guided improvisations, and writing and movement exercises. The benefits of such work are to raise awareness, empathy, and inclusivity while developing an open dialogue regarding the complexity of this international dilemma. Furthermore, participants would have an outlet to contend with these trying circumstances in a safe space and begin to find their voice, explore pertinent and unspoken political issues, and perpetuate movement towards a peaceful co-existence. It is my intention that through this process they would have the opportunity to develop their own identities and leadership abilities as empowered members of a new community of change makers in their own right.
I can confidently say that in the year ahead I will be able to not only combine my many passions but also effect necessary change in Israel. Additionally, my work abroad will allow me to develop new coexistence programming that I can bring back to the Jewish community in The States.
Here’s where you, passionate Jewish social change agents, come in.
I am funding to supplement my grant for the coming year. If you are interested and/or willing to support my project please check out where you will find more information and an opportunity to donate.