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For the next phase of their 2014 community-based play, Safety, Civic Ensemble will host two Brainstorming sessions.  Every year, Civic Ensemble mounts a community-based play which is collaboratively written with community members and performed by a self-selected cast from the community. The topic of their next production is community-police relations and how these relationships can both help and hinder the cohesion of the community.

“Civic Ensemble is committed to creating an environment in which the community can examine different points of view without judgment," says Artistic Director Godfrey Simmons. "This project uses collaboratively created storytelling to address the divisions in our community with regard to policing and public safety.”

Civic Community Brainstorms are an opportunity for community members, including law enforcement professionals and their families, to learn what the annual community-based play is all about and how they can get involved. The events will engage attendees with the topic of community-police relations, give them an opportunity to contribute their ideas about what the play should include, and recruit participants for the cast of the play. The events will be similar so there is no need to attend both evenings, though people are welcome to come to both. Food will be served at both events.

Safety is led by Civic’s Director of Civic Engagement, Sarah K. Chalmers and Artistic Director, Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr. Chalmers has a masters degree in Applied Theatre from the City University of New York. She specializes in creating theatre with communities.

“I’ve been conducting story circles for Safety since October 2013," she says. "I’ve heard stories from a wide variety of viewpoints about everything from traffic stops to drug busts to shootings. Our work on this play is not to find the right answers, but to find the fruitful questions. What do we need to ask ourselves and each other in order to move through this human experience together in a new way?” Simmons, one of the creators of the Off-Broadway documentary play Dispatches From (A)mended America, adds, “A piece of theatre allows the community to see this issue in an artistic framework instead of a political framework. This work provides a lens for community members to say, ‘I may not understand the other side’s perspective intellectually, but I do understand it emotionally.’”

The production will utilize theatre-making tools that empower community members in the creation of theatre that is vital and relevant to their neighbors in Ithaca.  This project is supported by the Community Foundation, the Cornell Public Service Center, Tompkins Trust Company, and Shared Journeys. This event is sponsored by the Kitchen Theatre Company and Alternatives Federal Credit Union.

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