URI Providence Campus & Providence Black Repertory Company to spread ‘Seeds of Hope’ on First Night

Media Contact: Jan Wenzel, 874-2116

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — December 20, 2002 — The University of Rhode Island’s Providence Campus and The Providence Black Repertory Company will premiere Seeds of Hope, Sowing Words of Peace as part of First Night Providence festivities. The performance will be held Dec. 31 at 6 p.m. at the Providence Black Repertory Theatre, 276 Westminster St. The performance launches the Seeds Of Hope tour in the community throughout January and February.

Seeds of Hope is a youth writing and performance program that brings together middle school students from greater Providence. The group has learned inspiring, classic poetry from many cultures. Members have also written poetry, individually and as a group. The group will perform a 40-minute program focusing on world peace by planting positive words and affirming hope in our community and our world.

The performance group is co-led by Julia Murphy, education director for The Providence Black Repertory Company, with Rhode Island native poet Quintin Prout, and Irini Abramov who is working with Ameri-Crops. The performers include Matthew Shumate of East Providence, Michaela Wood of Providence, Charlene Cooper of Providence, Stephani and Riane Lewis of East Providence, Rebecca Valentine of Pawtucket, Siobhan Reddly-Best of Providence.

The program complements an art exhibit, Children Around the World Picturing Peace, at the URI Providence Campus Gallery, which runs Jan. 18 through Feb. 28 along with exhibits at the Mathewson Street United Methodist Church Chapel Gallery and the International Gallery of Heritage and Culture.

Seeds of Hope is the brainchild of John McCray, vice provost of urban programs at the URI Providence Campus. McCray recognized the powerful impact that comes from writing, reciting and giving voice to positive ideas in the form of poetry.

The collaboration between URI Providence Campus and The Providence Black Repertory Company began in the Fall of 2001 as youth from the community were invited to join the workshop to learn techniques in writing and presenting original poetry, as well as learning some classic American works by such notable poets as Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks. Working under the direction of local playwright /actress Nehassaiu DeGannes, the troupe performed a program of poetry at the URI campus. The poetry was inspired by the Civil Rights Movement as an affirmation against racism. Last spring, the second planting of Seeds under the tutelage of DeGannes wrote and presented Seeds of Hope Voices of Change throughout the community. A third planting of the Seeds is currently being initiated.

For information, contact Steven Pennell, artist-in-residence at URI Providence, 277-5206.