The last days of our practicum I spent helping Dawei and Sunshine with the ACCT (American Culture Center Tour) actors. They were Nellie Sciutto (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0778533/?ref_=sr_1) and Henry Clark (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1693401/?ref_=fn_al_nm_6) – two very talented and intelligent individuals. The duo has spend the past six weeks touring the American culture centers in China, and last week it was our turn. They performed a piece written by Clark himself called “An Ongoing Experiment” at three schools for audiences ranging from 200 – 1200 people.
I thought that theater was a wonderful way to teach these students, teachers and community members about American culture and hope that the US Embassy will fund more projects like this in the future. Even if the students could not understand all the dialogue it was such a treat for them to see the performance and meet these wonderful actors. They all ran up for autographs and pictures after the performances and Nelly and Henry were extremely gracious.
Here is Henry’s description of the piece:
The theater is not a uniquely American art form, but the American Theater is unique. An Ongoing Experiment presents five exceptional scenes, and offers a brief introduction to some of the major voices and artistic movements that have shaped the American stage. Generations of playwrights and theater artists have dug into the fundamental themes of the American experience – our struggles for civil rights, the pressures of capitalism, and the phenomenal complexity of the American dream – and have left us an artistic and historical record of the nation. At its best, the theater is a voice for progress and a herald of possibility. In the 20th Century, and now in the 21st, the diversity of voices on the American stage has helped to shape and guide our national debate. The history of the American theater is, in many ways, the history of America itself.