The coLAB #HearMe project is a series of programs based on Oral History Interview collection and Verbatim Theater creation. This new #HearMe initiative recognizes that collecting stories directly from the community, and drawing on the performative power of theater, we can open a dialogue on issues directly affecting our neighbors.
Less concerned with nostalgia, coLAB seeks to unlock questions about civic and cultural identity that represent our "future history."
Thanks to a commission from the New Brunswick Cultural Center, coLAB in partnership with Molly Graham of the Rutgers Oral History Archive, guided seven New Brunswick teens through a peer based oral history interview collection project - collecting over 20, one-hour interviews. This Verbatim Ensemble was tasked with the goal of capturing a glimpse into the present day experience New Brunswick teens. With the interviews as source material the ensemble created a theater piece that they presented at the 2014 Latino Cultural and Heritage Festival in New Brunswick.
coLAB is currently working with Youth Advocate Programs to provide a series of personal narrative and performance workshops to teens in the juvenile justice system in central New Jersey. One of the most important needs in our lives is to be heard. This project aims to shine a light on the experience of young people in the criminal justice system, and find ways to share those stories and insights with the communities that can most affect change.