Unfortunately, due to an illness in the Progress Theatre Family, the performances of Progress Theatre’s THE BURNIN’ have had to be indefinitely postponed. We are delighted to announce that their dates have been filled by the Performance Project’s FIRST GENERATION Ensemble who are back at Ko Festival after their sold-out performances of Ripple Effect during the 2011 season.

July 19-21, Fri. & Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 4 p.m.

About fo ‘n ale

All of us have moments in our lives when the impact of experience is crystalized, carried forward in time with such vividness that the past is present, continuing to live within us.  These moments become fiercely guarded memories and a source of power.  They shape and nourish identity, acknowledging all that we carry with us, with courage, into the future.


fo n’ ale (“we must go” in Haitian Creole) is a visual poem, a waking dreamscape in which past, present, and future are interchangeable.  Eight young people, originating from separate places in the world, are on a journey.  They’ve left their homelands for different reasons but find themselves traveling the same path, all embodying the melancholy of leaving.  Memories infuse their dreams, and dreams obscure the shapes of memories.

The seven co-authors and ensemble members in the piece originate from Nepal, Haiti, Burundi/Tanzania, Puerto Rico, Ethiopia and the U.S.  Fo n’ Ale incorporates movement, music and text spoken in five languages: Khirundi, Nepali, Creole, Amharik, and English.

FIRST GENERATION ensemble members: Uwizeyimana Angelique, Iyawna Burnett, Benjamin “Bush” Christopher, Sosina Erkailo, Laeticia Israël, Veronica Israël, and Gita Koirala

Directed by Julie Lichtenberg
With the artistic development and support of Lesley Farlow, Elsa Menendez & Carla Wojczuk

Lighting design by Sabrina Hamilton

For more information visit www.performanceproject.org

About the FIRST GENERATION program of the Performance Project

1st Generation Suitcase

First Generation is an intensive, arts-based, youth leadership development program in Springfield, MA. It provides a platform for young people to claim a public voice in their community, and beyond.

The program brings together youth ages 15-22 who identify as “first generation,” for research, self-reflection, artistic training, and dialogue. Forming an artistic ensemble, the group creates multilingual performances based on their discoveries. Community elders participate in our creative process by sharing their inter-generational experiences and perspectives.

There are many ways to be “first generation.” Ensemble members may be the first in their family to grow up in the United States, the first to speak English, to graduate high school, go to college, to be incarcerated, be drug free, be openly GLBT, to break the silence, to be an artist, or many other firsts.

First Generation addresses the complexity of embracing individuality while honoring one’s family and community cultures. Our performances and events invite audiences to participate in public dialogue about generational issues, and about how racism, economic oppression, bigotry, media and violence can sever youth from their cultural origins. The work of First Generation is rooted in the belief that our cultural legacies and family histories are sources of strength as well as struggle.

Performance Project members have been attending Ko performances for 9 years, and in 2011 after First Generation Ensemble performed RIPPLE EFFECT to sold out Ko audiences, The Performance Project and Ko formalized the partnership. We continue to collaborate and share ideas through rehearsal residencies and artistic exchanges.

The Performance Project is a proud member of the Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET).



The Performance Project is an arts community of many ages and ancestries dedicated to personal and social liberation. Young people at the heart of our work create compelling visual and performing art that engages the public in dialog about critical social and cultural issues.  Members participate in intensive artistic training, leadership development, and inter-generational mentoring. Through creativity and the arts we celebrate our connection and our full humanity.

The Performance Project began September of 2000 as a theater and movement workshop at the Hampshire County Jail in Northampton, MA. Visual and theater artist, Julie Lichtenberg, dancer/choreographer, Amie Dowling and eight men incarcerated at the Jail collaborated to create an original performance piece based on the group’s experiences, ideas, and beliefs.

From 2000 to 2007, The Performance Project produced six original plays, a short improvisational film, led theater workshops for women at the Hampden Jail in Ludlow, MA and in youth correctional programs, and established an “Outside” performance ensemble comprised of formerly incarcerated members and other theater artists in the community. The Project became a network of support for members re-entering into the community from jail, and facing the many challenges of reintegration and recovery.

Over the years, Performance Project members expressed how it would have made a profound difference if they had been able to have a Performance Project experience growing up, and they suggested bringing youth into The Performance Project. In 2008, First Generation had its inaugural year.

First Generation brings together young adults ages 15-22 who identify as “first generation,” for intensive artistic training, inter-generational mentoring, research, self-reflection, and dialogue. Forming an artistic ensemble, they create multi-lingual performances and claim a public voice in their communities and beyond.



My name is Benjamin Christopher – I am 19 years old, born in Springfield, MA.  I am Puerto Rican, from long line of proud Taino people. I’m passionate about theater, performing, and expressing myself through my poetry and novels. I dedicate my life and time to sharing my love with the world, making sure that none have to feel pain, or alone, and always feel loved. Laughing is my way of sharing love and joy with the world, something I do every second of the day. My eldest brother, Shareef, younger sister, Iyawna, and cousin, Nani, have all been part of First Generation (still are) and have experienced the family of a lifetime. I dedicate my focus, drive and energy in this performance to my father, my Godmother, Alex, and his family, and James. You all have made a huge impact in my life and you have never left my mind and heart through my times of sorrow. God, you kept me strong and gave the gift of life to beautiful Anyah’Sky. I dedicate this to you and Anyah’Sky.

I am Laeticia F. Israël –  I am 20 years old. I was born and have grown up in Haiti. Now I live in Springfield. I speak Creole, French, and English. My favorite color is blue. I love art, especially dance, music, visual arts, and crafts. I am glad to be a First Generation member, a group that helps me to express myself and practice art. I will be the first doctor in my family. I love to share my life experiences to help people get better everyday. I thank the source of my power, God. I want to dedicate this to all my family members, friends and everyone who learn or/and feel inspired by First Generation.

Veronica Israël – My name is Veronica, but my friends and family call me Nica. I was born on August 10, 1997 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and I moved in United states in September of 2012. I am the kind of person who’s very quiet but when it’s time, I am very playful.  I joined First Generation because I love performing and First Gen gives me this opportunity. I want to be the first in my family to play the violin. I dedicate my performance to all my best friends in Haiti, to some of my new friends here, and to my family.

Gita Koirala – My homeland is Nepal. Currently I am living in West Springfield, Mass. I’m a senior at West Springfield High School. Sports is my passion, and I want to live my life as if each day is my last day. I’ve been an ensemble member since 2010, and performed in Ripple Effect. I also taught for two summers in our Ubuntu Summer Arts Community. I dedicate this to my family and to all my best friends who are still in Nepal, and to those who are with me here in America.  My profession will be to motivate others.

My name is Uwizeyimana Angelique. I lived in Tanzania for nine years and moved to America just five years ago in 2007. I go to Renaissance, which is a college-bound school. I’m 16 years old, and I’m looking forward to going to college. Being a First Generation member is an opportunity for me to grow strong and thoughtful. I would like to dedicate my performance to my family.

Sosina Erkailo  – I am a 17-year-old who aspires to be a great doctor with God’s help, and I work very hard at it. I also love everything that has to do with art. My biggest inspiration is my faith. There are so many things to learn from it. I dedicate this work to my lovely family, The Harase Family. I love you guys so much.

Iyawna Burnett (Ripple Effect Ensemble) – I’m 18yrs old and I’m in love with being a mother and in love with theatre. I Joined first Generation three years ago and I’ve been a member ever since.  Once a member always a member! My dream is to work with youth creating and performing beautiful powerful shows on stage and I will not give up. I will continue to perform and dedicate all my performances to my grandmother, Melrose Burnett,who raised me, my brother, Shareef Ibrahim, who brought me into First Gen and to my inspiration, my daughter, Anyah’Sky Pusey.



JULIE LICHTENBERG Born and raised in New York City. Co-founder of BOOM!theater in 1994 and the Performance Project in 2000. As a visual and theater artist, I have been creating performances collaboratively for almost 30 years because it is what I love to do, because I learn so much about myself and the world in the process, and because I believe in the power of this work to connect people to each other through our stories. I would like to thank my mother, James and Oliver for your understanding and support! And also, the First Generation ensemble for being so incredibly wonderful! I am first generation to grow up in the shadow of the Jewish holocaust and inherit the legacy of my mother surviving that experience.

JAMES ARANA is a social worker and community organizer with 35 years experience working with people of all ages. James spent more than two decades working in community development in New York City’s South Bronx through Unitas Therapeutic Community, under the tutelage of Dr. Edward Eismann, training and supervising young adults to become mentors for at-risk children and teens in their own neighborhoods. James co-founded the Catrock Gang, an outdoor adventure program for inner-city young men based in New York. A fourth degree black belt, James is the director of Dragon’s Den School of Martial Arts where he mentors youth and adults through the martial arts.. As Associate Director of Men’s Resources International James worked to reduce family violence and promote a healthy, compassionate, and responsible model of masculinity. He has conducted ‘Men and Women As Allies” trainings in Springfield, Zambia, Nigeria, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Tanzania, Rwanda, and South Africa, supporting work for women’s political and social empowerment.

LESLEY FARLOW performs as a dancer, actress and singer. Several of her works have been seen at the Ko Festival in previous seasons. She has worked with Douglas Dunn, Phyllis Lamhut, Moses Pendleton, Ann Carlson, Johanna Boyce, Marta Renzi, and director Ping Chong, among others. Her own dance/theatre work has been produced in New York City, throughout the U.S. and in Europe. Acting and choreography credits include productions Off and Off-Off Broadway, as well as the Williamstown Theater Festival and regional theater. She currently performs with the Judy Dworin Performance Ensemble, based in Hartford. She is the first woman in her family to go to college. She has had the wonderful experience of collaborating with Julie on many projects over the past seven years and is so thrilled to be working with the First Generation Project. She sends them all much love!

ELSA MENÉNENDEZ is a writer, director, producer and performer with Tricklock Company since 2004 and the Outreach Coordinator for the National Hispanic Cultural Center. She has spent the last 30 years working in theatre around the world, including teaching acting, clowning and circus skills in Connecticut at Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theatre (where she also served for six years as program manager and associate artistic director); teaching children’s theatre in England and Norway; serving as an associate producer in London for BBC movie shorts;  co-founding of BOOM!theatre with Julie Lichtenberg, a theatre company within a men’s medium security prison comprised of individuals serving the longest sentences.  Menéndez has written and performed in many original shows, including co-writing and directing original work, Catgut Strung Violin, which toured to the Canadian Fringe in June 2009 to critical acclaim. At the National Hispanic Cultural Center she founded and directs the Circo Latino summer youth institute.  Menéndez served for four years as a producer for UNM’s Words Afire! New Play Festival, and now works as a producer of Tricklock’s Revolutions International Theatre Festival.

CARLA WOJCZUK is a community-based artist and educator. She has worked with the Performance Project since 2006. It has been a great pleasure to learn and grow with the members of First Generation. Your brightness shines wisdom. I want to express deep gratitude for being able to share this experience with the amazing people who enrich and support each other along the way. Carla is first generation in her family to commit her life’s path to social justice.