City of Asylum @ Alphabet City
A special multicultural event highlighting the personal stories of African and African American teens and adults living in Northview Heights through alternative and participatory methods of storytelling.
Co-sponsored by Sharing Our Story, Somali Bantu Community Association, and Pittsburgh Playback Theatre, this program will engage audiences of all ages through digital storytelling, musical performances, and improv theatre about community building in Northview Heights between refugee and U.S. born residents.
Sharing Our Story, founded by Sally Rafson, is a project-based initiative working with organizations in Pittsburgh to bring together diverse communities through digital storytelling. Since founding in 2014, Sharing Our Story has engaged community members in the brainstorming, recording, and editing of their own personal documentaries. These documentaries, or “digital stories”, have been viewed and discussed by over 300 community members and showcased in exhibits of the Westmoreland Museum of Art and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh.
Digital storytelling is an approach that empowers individuals to create documentaries showcasing life experiences, these visuals can then open the door for discussion on complex topics. In this project, Digital Storytelling: Building Bridges, ten residents of Northview Heights between the ages of 14-18 met each Saturday in February at City of Asylum to discuss experiences living in Pittsburgh and chose identity building experiences to share with the greater community. Each teen compiled and edited material for a three-minute documentary showcasing an event of particular significance in their lives. Teens were assisted in this process by volunteers skilled in English education, creative writing, videography, and digital editing.
Playback Theatre is a form of improvisational storytelling, based on feelings and stories shared by audience members. This international form of theatre is used in educational, therapeutic, social change, and arts settings with companies on seven continents. Playback Theatre is about creating dialogue and connection through the telling, witnessing, and honoring of our life experiences, based on the principle that every story deserves to be listened to with an open ear and an open heart. We believe that listening to the stories of our community is crucial as we strive towards creating a world of compassion and inclusivity. Playback Theatre strives to bridge the divide between art and social change by providing opportunities for reflection, and empathic connection. We attempt to honor individuals’ differences while celebrating our commonalities.