From High School to Off-Broadway to CPTV, Voices in Conflict Airs Monday, November 10 at 9 pm
HARTFORD, Conn. – Drawn from interviews, letters and essays written by Iraqi civilians and American soldiers serving in Iraq, Voices in Conflict started as a Wilton High School drama project, landed on off-Broadway and will now be broadcast on CPTV on Monday, November 10 at 9 p.m. In addition, the show will air again on Sunday, November 16 at 6 p.m.
When Bonnie Dickinson and her drama students at Wilton High School in Connecticut began working on the Voices in Conflict script, she had no idea that it would stir up controversy. After the school received a complaint from a parent, who thought the play was anti-military, the principal deemed the play “educationally inappropriate,” and the performance was canceled. The story subsequently appeared in the New York Times, and precipitated a media firestorm that launched the play and Wilton into the national spotlight.
“We were amazed to find ourselves at the center of a censorship debate but suddenly we beganreceiving supportive messages, including some from soldiers currently serving in Iraq,” said Dickinson.
To her great surprise Dickinson also received several invitations to perform the play in New York. By the end of its run in July, the 16 young actors, between the ages of 14 and 18, had performed the play at the Vineyard Theatre, Culture Project and the Public Theater, all venerable off-Broadway venues in New York, and at Fairfield Theatre Company in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Jay Whitsett, CPTV vice president and station manager, saw the value in broadcasting the play, and approached the group about airing the production to be broadcast on CPTV.
“When you see something this dynamic and rich, and the youth of the state are involved, you want to showcase their abilities,” Whitsett said.
The young cast traveled to Hartford for filming in CPTV's high-definition Chase Family Studio.
Taylor Telyan, 19, now a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, returned to reprise her role as a Muslim woman in the production. According to her, it is important to bring the play to television because the students received support from people all over the world, but not everyone got a chance to see the production.
The Music Theatre International awarded Dickinson and her students a “Courage in Theatre Award” for Voices in Conflict the first such honoring in the organization’s history. Dickinson also became the official “2007 Honoree”of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the winner of the Connecticut Center for First Amendment Rights 2007 “Freedom Award.”
“I’ve been teaching theatre and directing in the Wilton School School District for over 15 years, and the past year has got to be one of the most rewarding of my career on so many levels,” said Dickenson. “We have all learned a lot about what arts education is all about.”
Voices in Conflict is part of CPTV’s Local Lens – Producers of the Future initiative. The initiative is an incubator for emerging independent producers and production companies, as well as seasoned professionals with fresh ideas for new 21st century content. As part of the Local Lens project, CPTV will select a limited number of up-and-coming producers to be “Local Lens Producers in Residence,” and provide them with mentoring, training and an opportunity to see their work come alive on CPTV. If you have an original story, a fresh idea or are interested in funding new projects, visit www.cptv.org/LocalLens.
The Local Lens series is made possible with the support of the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism. Funding for this episode comes from Edward and Catherine Romer, Maryellen and Dave Basile, John and Ellen Levinson, Frances K. Dibner and the Christine E. Moser Foundation.
Producer: Jay Whitsett
Co-producers: Bonnie Dickinson, Andy Gundell
CPTV is a media service of the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network (CPBN/www.
cpbn.org). It is a locally and nationally recognized producer and presenter of quality public television programming, including UConn Women's Basketball, original documentaries and educational programming. CPTV has built a reputation as a leader in children’s programming, including playing an historic role in bringing Barney & Friends™, Bob the Builder™, and Thomas & Friends™ to public television. The station offers 11.5 hours of positive, nurturing children’s programs each weekday, reaching 50,000 to 70,000 households daily. The Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network also includes WNPR, an affiliate of National Public Radio, Public Radio International, and American Public Media. WNPR serves over 200,000 listeners in Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island with news and information. Its award-winning local programming includes The Faith Middleton Show and Front and Center with Ray Hardman. Overall, the network brings a broad spectrum of public affairs, entertainment, sports, and educational programming to viewers, listeners and readers. For more information, visit www.cptv.org and / or www.wnpr.org.