RIPPLE EFFECT transports audiences from Springfield, MA to a U.S. army base, a Nepali family and their struggle for recognition, and a refugee camp in Tanzania. While local and global news media report political events and economic statistics, The FIRST GENERATION ensemble brings to light the stories of the individuals experiencing those events that are so often left untold.

Spanning four languages and three continents, RIPPLE EFFECT shares the strengths and struggles of the ensemble’s journeys, of family and community, as well as fantasy worlds – carrying us from Beyonce to Bollywood to a “Secret Recipe for Warriors Only,” and dreams for the future.

The work of RIPPLE EFFECT is rooted in the belief that our cultural legacies and family histories are sources of strength as well as struggle.  With courageous and magnetic energy, the ensemble illuminates “the complexities of embracing our individuality while honoring our family and community cultures in the unfolding journey of our lives.”

FIRST GENERATION ensemble members: Devi Adhikari, Iyawna Burnett, Stickii Gadson, Chiino Rios, Gita Koirala, Jamari Manirakiza, Taja Wiggins and Monique Wilson

Directed by Julie Lichtenberg, Julissa Rodriguez, Carla Wojczuk & Lesley Farlow
Sound Design: Tony Silva, Lighting: Sabrina Hamilton, Backdrops: Carla Wojczuk & Michael Wojczuk

For more information visit www.performanceproject.org

About the FIRST GENERATION program of the Performance Project

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.


Through multi-generational collaborations, The Performance Project creates compelling works of theater that expose the effects of racism, economic oppression, bigotry, and violence, as well as our humanity, our strength and our possibilities.  Liberation.

The Performance Project offers a safe space for members to voice experiences, ideas and beliefs, claim a public voice, and engage audiences in dialogue about critical, social and cultural issues. The Performance Project is committed to the enrichment and empowerment of our membership, many of whom have been incarcerated, so that we may all know our value as individuals and as part of a larger community.


Stickii Gadson: I’m a 20 year old student that works hard to be all that i can be in the in my family, community, and the world. I’m First Generation in this way:  First Afrikan-American on my mother’s side of my family, First out queer, First Community Activist, First to be a Performing Artist. I would like to dedicate this work to:  My parents Melvin Gadson and Kathleen Canavan, for making me who I Am Today! I also want to thank and dedicate this to my Out Now Family for all the support throughout the years. Lastly, I want to dedicate this to all my people in the struggle.

Jamari Manirakiza: Nei umuntu yitonda kandi abashaka kwumvikana n’abandi. Ndakundana kandnkwongera kwubahiriza kiremwa muntu. Jewe mbansha kuba ahontu huturiye kandi hamezeneza. I am Burundi. I grew up in a refugee camp in Tanzania. I am the kind of person who likes to get along with others. I love and respect human beings. I am the kind of person who likes to be somewhere safe where it is peaceful. I am first generation to be the oldest child in my whole family, to go to high school and college, and to get a drivers license. I would like to dedicate this work to my mom.

Chiino Rios: I’m a twenty-one year old Puerto Rican currently living in Springfield. As an artist and community organizer I’ve dedicated my life to working in and for the community I live in, and communities that share the same struggles of oppression. I’m currently attending Brandford Hall Career Institute, studying Massage Therapy. I am the first queer male, first to graduate, first to not get arrested, first with a political conscience. I dedicate this to my family. I hope this opens your eyes to the reality of what is going on in my life and possibly others in our family.

Iyawna Harmonie Burnett: age 16, born and raised in Springfield. I aspire to be a performing artist and work very hard at it.  I am very serious about my dreams and I’m reaching for the stars. I’m the first in my family to be serious about making my dream come true and holding onto my dreams and talents. I dedicate this to my grandmother Melrose Burnett for raising me and always being here and telling me to never give up and believe in myself.  I love you, Grandma.

Taja Wiggins: My name is Taja Wiggins. I am sixteen years old. I live in Springfield, MA, born and raised. My biggest inspiration is my writing and the faith and belief that someday it will change someone’s life. I would like one day to be a psychologist or social worker. I am first generation because I am the first in my family to go to college early and chase after what I want and stand my ground. I dedicate this work to the two people who always taught me to keep my head up: my mom Jewel Wiggins and my grandmother Lois Ester.

Deepika Adhikari: I go to West Springfield high school. I’m going to graduate from high school this spring.  I’m planning to go to college and continue my four years of college. I’m planning to study nursing and in the future I’m planning to go back to my country, Nepal. I am first generation to go to high school, and graduate from high school. I dedicate this to my family, all my friends who are still in Nepal and one of my friends who is in the United Kingdom.

Gita Koirala: I’m so glad to be a member of First Generation. I’m a student of West Springfield High School. I love to play soccer and I want to go back to my country, Nepal. I am first generation to go to high school and play on an American soccer team. I am also first to do theater. 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.

Monique Chantay: I am from Springfield, MA. I have a strong passion for music and acting. I want to grow up, become an actress, make money, and give back to my community. I Love reading and making friends. I am first in my family to have an interest in other people’s cultures and to learn about other people’s cultures. I dedicate this work to my mother Patricia Williams.


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.

JULISSA LEE RODRIGUEZ is a visual, performing, and teaching artist from the North End of Springfield. She has dedicated the past fifteen years to her passion for the arts. She is also a percussionist. In her work as a performing and teaching artist she has traveled to New York City, London, England, Cape Town, South Africa and Edinburgh, Scotland. Julissa believes that art is essential to one’s personal and academic growth and that everyone should have the opportunity to develop and express their creative self.  Congratulations First Gen on all of the beautiful work you have been doing together! You have risen to the challenge! Each one of you are so amazing and bright and truly inspiring. I have unlimited LOVE for you all in this heart of mine. Bussehsay!!!!  Julissa is first in her family to be an artist and first female to be a percussionist.

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.

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!