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The New Voices Ensemble

“There are minutes at a time when one or another of these children is so transformed by the work that he or she becomes the embodiment of the best that is possible in theatre. No senior artist in the company can match the truth, the imagination, and vitality of these children when they are fully engaged with one another in a play. Their work is how I measure excellence: our need of them is just as urgent as their need for us.”
—Abigail Adams, Artistic Director

The New Voices Ensemble, an ongoing program of The People’s Light and Theatre Company, brings together professional artists and young people from diverse backgrounds to make new plays and productions over a number of years. Begun in 1989, this collaboration between a regional theatre and students from urban and suburban communities makes commitments and connections that are exceptional both for their ability to bridge boundaries of age, race, and class, and for their long-term nature.

New Voices began with a commitment by People’s Light to work with a core group of sixth graders in Chester until they graduated high school. Since then, under the direction of Artistic Director Abigail Adams, the Ensemble has become an integral part of our programming at People’s Light. New Voices has created its own play, performed classic texts, acted alongside our resident company, participated in a playwriting course at Swarthmore College, and worked as paid teaching assistants for our summer program for children. Over the years the Ensemble grew to include students from the suburbs near the Theatre. The original core group graduated in 1996. The new Ensemble includes many younger brothers and sisters of the original group and is larger and more diverse in age, race, and skill.

New Voices Production History

1993 A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare
1994 The Playwright’s Lab scenes
1995 The Playwright's Lab; scenes about Chester
1995 Madwoman of Chaillot
1996 Leapyear by The Playwright's Lab
1998 The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Brecht
1999 Relativity by the Ensemble, part of Outside the Box
2001 Back in the Day by Aisha Hobbs and William Dawes
2003 Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman
2004 I Come From by the Ensemble
2006 b.frank: a call to invention
2007 In Search Of...
2008 Lear Inside Out

New Voices has received the prestigious "Coming Up Taller Award" given by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities for exemplary work with at-risk youth, as well as The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Award for Excellence in Theatre Education.

For more information about The New Voices Ensemble, please contact Wendy Bable, at 610.647.1900 x101, or by email at