A new new original play has hit the stage in Cleveland, featuring stories from around the world written and performed by the students who actually lived through them.
The production, “We Belong,” is a collaboration between Cleveland Public Theatre and the Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy High School Performance Project.
Thomas Jefferson is a K-12 school for refugees and other newcomers from Puerto Rico and a variety of countries.
For all of the student performers, this is their first year as a student in the United States. “We Belong” is a series of stories expressing what the students experienced as they left their homes and how it felt to begin living in a new place – the family hardships, the loneliness, and the adjustment.
“The hope is that by hearing these stories, people in the United States, their peers, and people in the Cleveland community will see what they’ve been through, and welcome them and welcome their families, and see what kind of contribution these families can make to our community,” said Chris Seibert, Cleveland Public Theatre's education director.
The students began working with teaching artists in December. They performed the production for other students during the day on March 10 and 11 and for the public on the night of March 11.
The city and Councilman Joe Cimperman provided support for the project. Cimperman will leave City Council this spring to become president of Global Cleveland, a nonprofit economic-development organization that seeks to attract and serve refugees, immigrants and other newcomers to the city.