his past April 9, the Norwalk Community College Theater Club brought the Americans Who Tell the Truth portraits to life for the school´s “Humanitarian Week”. During a full week of performances, lectures, screenings and fieldtrips, NCC aimed to raise awareness about human rights issues with events that focused on “human trafficking, civil rights, hunger, tolerance, homelessness and the history of American activism.”
NCC´s Dean of Students, Robert Baer had seen the exhibit of AWTT portraits at the Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky during the fall of 2012 and thought they could help NCC students “think of people in history as real people with a real impact.”
The director of the Music and Theater Program at NCC, Christine Mangone agreed and brought the project to the students involved in the Theater Club. The Theater Club members then took a novel approach to presenting the AWTT subjects.
Selecting the broad themes of Women’s rights, Civil Rights, and Peace, the actors chose to portray a set of the portrait subjects, including Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, and Mark Twain. However, instead of first announcing their character to the audience, the actors spoke in character, fielded audience questions, and made people guess who they were playing. Once the audience had made its best guess, an image of Rob Shetterly’s portrait of the individual was projected on a screen for all to see.
NCC also purchased 18 of the portrait posters, which served as set and exhibit for the performance (see picture).
Other activities during the week included a tour of the Museum of Tolerance in New York City, an Oxfam Hunger Banquet, a talk on human trafficking and a screening of the award winning documentary, Brother Outsider, on the life of Bayard Rustin.