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Expressions of Democracy Brings History to Life on Campus

Approximately 1,300 LI and NYC School Children to Participate the Day Before 2nd Presidential Debate

Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY … On Monday, October 15, 2012, just one day before the long-awaited Presidential Debate at Hofstra, the University will present “Expressions of Democracy,” a daylong arts program for Hofstra’s campus community as well as more than 1,300 children and teens from Nassau, Suffolk and Brooklyn schools. One of the highlights of the day is titled “Democracy in Performance,” where fully-costumed professional scholars/actors, assisted by Hofstra student performers, will re-enact pivotal moments in American history. These historical re-enactments are reminiscent of the 19th century Chautauqua traveling educational performances.

expressions of democracy 2The scripts for Democracy in Performance are real speeches and correspondence written by the people portrayed in the program: among them voting rights activist and civil rights leader Fannie Lou Haymer; abolitionist and suffragist Lucy Stone; and children who wrote to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt asking for her help and FDR’s during the Great Depression. In one performance about immigrants to America, one Hofstra student will read from letters written by her Italian relatives who came to the U.S. from Italy.

Democracy in Performance highlights include:

9:05-10 a.m. keynote performance at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse

“Slave and Free: The Story of Sojourner Truth” – featuring Claflin University Professor of Speech and Drama Annette Grevious in the title role. She will be accompanied by a dance troupe and choir, also from Claflin University. Since 2006 Hofstra University and Claflin University, a noted historically black institution in Orangeburg, South Carolina, have partnered on a faculty exchange in an effort to introduce new ideas to students and build on the academic strengths of both Universities.

10:10 a.m.-1:45 p.m. at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse, Black Box Theater, tents and smaller stages on the South Campus. Presentations include:

• Escaped Slaves’ Stories and the Fight for Abolition
• A Century of Struggle: Votes for Women
• Tales from the Great Depression
• The Promised Land: Immigration to America
• Workers: Tragedy and Triumph: The Triangle Factory Fire & the Bread & Roses Strike
• Civil Rights and the Founding of the NAACP
• Café Society: Resistance to Jim Crow through Jazz and Poetry of the Harlem Renaissance (Café Society was New York’s first integrated jazz club.)
• John F. Kennedy and the Struggle for Civil Rights
• Child Labor in the Progressive Era

Also featured:
11:15 a.m.-12:40 p.m. Democracy Dance Project 2012. Winners of a high school choreography contest, Hofstra dance students and dance professionals take on important social issues through dance. The performance features all original choreography, including pieces by Hofstra faculty members Dyane Harvey-Salaam and Darrah Carr. Winning high schools include: St. John the Baptist High School, Our Lady of Mercy Academy, Valley Stream Central High School, Half Hollow Hills East High School, Walt Whitman High School, and Holy Trinity Diocesan High School.

2:55-4:20 p.m. The Bonus Army, an original play by Hofstra alumnus Isaac Rathbone, directed by Cindy Rosenthal. During the Great Depression, thousands of unemployed veterans marched to the capital to demand a bonus the federal government had promised them. This program also includes the duet “Longing from Into Sunlight,” choreographed by Robin Becker with music by Andrea Bauer.

Expressions of Democracy additionally highlights the visual arts with Social Realism 2012 – a juried art exhibit of social issue-themed works by Long Island high school and middle school students. This exhibition is on view at the Joan and Donald E. Axinn Library, main floor, until October 18. Awards were given to students at Roosevelt High School, Hicksville High School and East Hampton High School. Honorable mentions were given to Farmingdale High School, South High School In Valley Stream and Hicksville High School.

Democracy in Performance made its debut at the University in 2008, prior to the Hofstra debate between then-Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain. This event grew out of a class taught by taught by Professor of Performance Studies and Communication Lisa Merrill, Ph.D. She continues to teach this class and mentor her students in their attempts to re-enact these important events in history and show how the issues of the past continue to impact Americans today.

For more information on Expressions of Democracy and Democracy in Performance, visit and select “Events & Activities.”


Related Link: More About Expressions of Democracy

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