The "I Am" Project at Long Wharf Theatre -

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The “I Am” Project at Long Wharf Theatre

There is nary the person who hasn’t been asked as a child what they wanted to be when they grew up. The response is often fanciful – an astronaut, a movie star, or President. But within that response is the germ of an idea, a thought about what sort of potential life holds.

Long Wharf Theatre’s Director of Education Annie DiMartino wants to encourage those thoughts, asking children from kindergarten to 12th grade to express what their lives can hold for them. In conjunction with Long Wharf Theatre’s upcoming production of My Name is Asher Lev, by Aaron Posner, based on the novel by Chaim Potok, local students will have the opportunity to display in the Mainstage Lobby during the run of the show self-portraits depicting their personal, public, and dream selves. The show runs from May 2-27.

“I have always believed that it is very important to give students a platform in which their voice can be heard. We so often inspire conversation through critical analysis after seeing the show, but in this case we want to offer a great opportunity for students to express how they see themselves to a larger audience,” DiMartino said. “Displaying these works will also give our audiences who don’t always see or connect with our student group base, a chance to discover who they are and what they want out of life through artwork.”

The project draws a direct connection with the upcoming show. Asher Lev is a young man who has a true artistic calling. But he is also growing up in a deeply observant Hasidic Jewish family. When he attempts to embrace this artistic calling, he runs afoul of his family’s and community’s traditions, forcing him to make the difficult choice between faith and art. It is a story about growing up and learning to be true to one’s own identity.

“Our hope is that this project will inspire students to make a reciprocal investment in the story being told on our stage from a “connection to self” perspective,” DiMartino said.

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