Baltimore Center Stage: Olney Partnership

Olney Partnership

Baltimore Center Stage and Olney Theatre partnership—HOME

Over the course of the 2019/20 season, Maryland’s two State theaters—Baltimore Center Stage and Olney Theatre Center—will join programmatic forces for the first time in a series of civic engagement events bolstering their independent productions of Miss You Like Hell. Pulling inspiration from the musical’s ever-more-resonant plotline that interrogates America and its borders, this unprecedented partnership called “Home” will use theater to springboard into a state-wide conversation around family, identity, and belonging.


Home events at Baltimore Center Stage and Olney Theater Center


We kicked off our partnership at Merriweather Post Pavilion with stakeholders from both Olney Theatre Company and Baltimore Center Stage, bringing together our communities to celebrate and acknowledge continued efforts to “grow the pie.” Remarks were made by the Artistic leaders of both institutions, and we got to see sneak-peek performances from cast members of each of our productions of Miss You Like Hell.

Throughout the run of Miss You Like Hell at Baltimore Center Stage, we hosted a range of civic programs, catalyzing conversations about the human impacts of the US immigration system at our southern border and right here in our backyard in Baltimore.

Each of our AfterThoughts discussions was dedicated to amplifying voices from immigrant communities in Baltimore. In partnership with local organizations, activists, and thought leaders, our artistic staff facilitated conversations on the topic of immigration policy with staff members from The Esperanza Center, discussed the challenges faced by immigrants within and outside of the Latinx community with friends from the Baltimore Asian Pacifika Arts Collective and The Baltimore Beat, and discussed the radical act of artmaking and joy spreading with photojournalist and independent publisher Adriana Monsalve of Homie House Press.

We curated materials and activities in our newly founded Living Room lobby space to help audiences find ways to engage with social issues raised by the production. The Living Room featured a “Take Action Corner” where audiences could read and take materials from local direct service organizations working on issues related to immigration, teen suicide prevention, and literacy. Through the following partnerships the Living Room provided space where audiences could engage in several ways:

  • DC Visitation Network, featured a space where audiences could write letters to individuals currently in immigration detention in Maryland and DC.
  • Through partnership with the Pratt Library, the Living Room showcased books referenced by the character Olivia, allowing audiences to dive deep into the literary lineage Olivia holds dear.
  • Continuing relationship building with Homie House Press, the Living Room featured three different collections of immigrant stories curated by photojournalist Adriana Monsalve.

One evening of the run we were joined by members of Casa de Maryland who set up a table of information to engage in further conversation with our audiences. We were also able to offer our space to members of the organization Kids in Need of Defense in an effort to expand local networks of pro-bono immigration attorneys.

This season, Baltimore Center Stage launched its new civic dialogue series, The Baltimore Butterfly Sessions. Inspired by Citizen University's Civic Saturdays, The Baltimore Butterfly Sessions bring together music, poetry, literary excerpts, and thought-provoking keynote addresses to catalyze conversation and build awareness around today’s most pressing issues. The first butterfly session, which took place after the BCS run of Miss You Like Hell closed, was dedicated to the questions around immigration policy, and featuring internationally-recognized immigration attorney Sheela Murthy, multi-instrumentalist Kamyar Arsani, Afroboricua poet Tatiana Figueroa Ramirez, and desserts from Mera Kitchen Collective.

Impulse comprises storytelling workshops led by BCS teaching artists, guiding adult learners to explore and generate their own stories while introducing the tools and techniques to write and share these stories with others. The BCS Learning and Social Accountability Department and The House of Ruth continued their storytelling partnership at the HOR Community Center. Our teaching artists coupled with the support of HOR clinicians created a powerful and transformative Story Slam in which participants had the opportunity to craft their experience into an autobiographical story which they shared and used to promote healing, build community, and advocate for their cause.