From High School to Off-Broadway to CPTV, Voices in Conflict Airs on Monday, November 10 at 9 p.m.
HARTFORD, Conn. (October 10, 2008) – Drawn frominterviews, letters and essays written by Iraqi civilians and American soldiersserving in Iraq, Voices in Conflict startedas a Wilton High School drama project, landed onoff-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 Conflictscript, 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 performancewas canceled. The story subsequently appeared in the New York Times, and precipitateda media firestorm that launchedthe play and Wiltoninto the national spotlight.
“We were amazed to findourselves at the center of a censorship debate but suddenly we began receiving supportive messages,including some from soldiers currently serving in Iraq,”said Dickinson.
Toher great surprise Dickinson also receivedseveral invitations to perform the play in New York. By the end of its run in July, the 16 young actors, between the ages of 14and 18, had performed the play at the Vineyard Theatre, CultureProject and the Public Theater, all venerable off-Broadway venues in New York, and at Fairfield Theatre Company in Fairfield, Connecticut.
JayWhitsett, 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 youthof the state are involved, you want to showcase their abilities,” Whitsett said.
Theyoung cast traveled to Hartfordfor filming in CPTV's high-definition Chase Family Studio.
TaylorTelyan, 19, now a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, returnedto reprise her role as a Muslim woman in the production. According to her, itis important to bring the play to television because the students receivedsupport from people all over the world, but not everyone got a chance to seethe production.
The Music Theatre Internationalawarded Dickinson and her students a “Couragein Theatre Award” for Voices inConflict the first such honoring in the organization’s history. Dickinson also became the official “2007 Honoree”of the National Coalition Against Censorship and thewinner of the ConnecticutCenter for FirstAmendment Rights 2007 “Freedom Award.”
“I’ve been teaching theatre and directing in the Wilton SchoolSchool District for over15 years, and the past year has got to be one of the most rewarding of mycareer on so many levels,” said Dickenson. “We have all learned a lot aboutwhat arts education is all about.”
Voices in Conflict is part of CPTV’s Local Lens – Producers of the Futureinitiative. The initiative is anincubator for emerging independent producers and production companies, as wellas seasoned professionals with fresh ideas for new 21st centurycontent. As part of the Local Lens project, CPTV will select a limited number of up-and-comingproducers to be “Local Lens Producers in Residence,” and provide them withmentoring, training and an opportunity to see their work come alive on CPTV. If you have an originalstory, a fresh idea or are interested in funding new projects, visit www.cptv.org/LocalLens.
The Local Lens initiative is made possible with funding fromthe Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism. Funding for this episode comes from Edwardand Catherine Romer, Maryellen and Dave Basile, John and Ellen Levinson,Frances K. Dibner and the Christine E. Moser Foundation.
Producer: Jay Whitsett
Co-producers: BonnieDickinson, Andy Gundell
CPTVis a media service of the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network.It is a locally and nationally recognized producer and presenter of qualitypublic television programming, including UConn Women's Basketball, originaldocumentaries and educational programming. CPTV has built a reputation as aleader in children’s programming, including playing an historic role inbringing Barney & Friends™, Bob the Builder™, and Thomas & Friends™ to publictelevision. The station offers 11.5hours of positive, nurturing children’s programs each weekday, reaching 50,000to 70,000 households daily. The Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network alsoincludes WNPR, an affiliate of National Public Radio, Public RadioInternational, and American Public Media. WNPR serves over 200,000 listeners inConnecticut, New York,and Rhode Islandwith 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 moreinformation, visit www.cptv.org and / or www.wnpr.org.