Carnegie Mellon Press Release: March 26, 2004
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Press Release

Contact:
Eric C. Sloss
412-268-5765

For immediate release:
March 26, 2004

Carnegie Mellon School of Drama Professor Creates Theatre Program in Africa

PITTSBURGH—Barbara Mackenzie-Wood, associate professor and coordinator of the acting option in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama, has returned from three weeks in South Africa, where she created the theatre program and directed two devised theatre pieces at Camp Sizanani, a pilot project of the international organization, World Camps.

The next camp will take place March 27­April 8 for 150 girls. Four more will take place in June, July, September and December, alternately for boys and girls.

World Camps, a nonprofit organization created to establish residential camps for children affected by HIV/AIDS, provides children in developing nations with experiences away from home that promote skills, maturity, independence, an awareness of public health issues and cross-cultural interchange.

The pilot project, Camp Sizanani (Zulu for "helping each other"), brought together 100 boys who have been directly infected or affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic for a 10-day experiential, educational program. The children lived with children from various ethnic groups, religions and tribal cultures. A key aspect of the theatre program was to enable them to share songs, stories, games and other aspects of each other's cultures in a setting where they were having fun.

"It was truly inspiring working with the children, and it was also the most joyous of experiences. I was most impressed by their willingness to jump right in, their ability to problem solve as a group, their musical sophistication and the commitment they brought to the pieces," said Mackenzie-Wood. "We used a number of African stories as the bases for sections of the performance, but they also created a most memorable version of the 'Three Little Pigs,' which they insisted be included as well. I am honored and inspired to take part in what I believe is a truly important and significant venture."

The camp's staff of 20 was evenly divided between participants from South Africa and the United States and brought together experts in their fields, such as Mackenzie-Wood, and also included a number of Peace Corps volunteers, youth workers and athletics coaches. Phil Lilienthal, the American co-director, has more than 30 years experience running his own camp for boys near Fayette, Maine, and has dreamed of establishing World Camps since his own days in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia.

World Camps plans to hold three more sessions replicating the pilot project over the next year. In March the experience will be offered to 100 girls between the ages of 8 and 15. Two sessions will take place in June and July. A separate project for training peer educators will take place in September.

Following their camp experience, every child will have the opportunity to participate in Saturday follow-up sessions to continue developing the community of support that was built during the two weeks of participating in Sizanani.

The goal is for Sizanani to be self-sustaining within three years and under local control, while World Camps goes on to create similar programs first in other parts of South Africa and then in other African countries. Discussions have already begun about possible sites and partners in Kenya, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

As a leading theater director and educator with a strong background in employing theatre in the service of AIDS education, Mackenzie-Wood was asked by World Camps to assist them in this, their initial venture in South Africa. The Irondale Ensemble Project a theater company in New York, which Mackenzie-Wood founded more than 20 years ago, has a long history of developing programs that combine theater classes with AIDS/HIV education in New York City public schools.

Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama is the nation's oldest degree-granting theatre program and is one of five schools within the College of Fine Arts. The College of Fine Arts is a community of nationally and internationally recognized artists and professionals organized into five schools: Architecture, Art, Design, Drama and Music, and their associated centers and programs.

For more information on the Growing Theatre, contact Barbara MacKenzie-Wood at 412-268-7218 or bmacwood@andrew.cmu.edu. For photos of the production in Africa or information on the College of Fine Arts, contact Eric Sloss at 412-268-5765 or ecs@andrew.cmu.edu.

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