'Turn Loose the Voices' is an award winning video promoting cross-cultural understanding. It features a multicultural cast of 21 children and teenagers who worked together to identify their perceptions of the impact of prejudice and the value of diversity. In collaboration with a professional artistic staff, they translated their insights into 16 separate songs, stories, dramatic and comic scenes and choreography designed to creatively illuminate young people's views of what tears us apart and what brings us together.

A high quality production

Originally produced for the stage by Young Actors' Forum, the show was adapted to video in the studios of the Fox Broadcasting affiliate in Portland, Oregon. It won the top honor, the Gold Apple Award for multi-cultural education, at the National Educational Film and Video Festival, the largest competition of its kind in the U.S. It will soon be available on DVD.

Effective for different ages

This dynamic 60 minute program has been used across the country with a variety of groups in a variety of circumstances ranging from mature fourth and fifth graders, to middle and high school students, to adults involved in diversity awareness training in the community and the workplace. In schools it may effectively be used either by itself or in conjunction with social studies or language arts courses.


Turn Loose the Voices' is particularly useful because we can show either the whole one-hour program, or we can present its short segments separately, according to the needs of our audience.

         - Judith A. Hamilton Johnson
         CenterSource Systems, LLC

The one-hour program may be presented in its entirety without interruption; one segment flows into the next. Or individual short segments (16 different scenes, songs and monologues ranging from one to six minutes) can be shown according to the preference of the instructor.

Includes Study Guide

The 75-page study guide which accompanies the video employs diverse approaches to assist educators in presenting the material. It includes art-based activities, individual and group creative writing and song writing exercises, role playing and discussion ideas. The study guide also includes a cross referenced subject guide and an annotated bibliography of further readings. Turn Loose the Voices takes a creative approach. It is not a documentary or a narrated step-by-step instructional video. Instead, it uses the performing arts as a teaching tool to stimulate discussion. By having the academically-oriented exercises and activities presented apart from the video itself (as compared to being worked into the format of the show), educators have the freedom to use them at their discretion according to their needs.

As a community development and education professional, I see many uses for the video; in classrooms, in churches, youth groups, staff trainings and community meetings...[Turn Loose the Voices] focuses the tremendous power of youth peer pressure toward the development of cross-cultural respect and understanding. It is a strong and fresh theatrical description of the issues as experienced and demonstrated by young people. I have spoken to people from ages 7 to 70 and from several cultures who were moved to new thoughts and feelings by the performance.

          - Lynn Janette Knox

Video explores prejudice, conflict

23 youths help create 'Turn Loose the Voices'

of the Oregonian staff

ell," one of the teenage cast members began during a group discussion, "my opinion is..." "No, you're wrong!" another student interrupted. The 21 other members of Young Actors' Forum burst into laughter. The topic of discussion? Differences among people. And the exchange within the diverse group made its way into the script of "Turn Loose the Voices," a stage show-turned-video about prejudices, conflict and getting along.

Guided by an adult creative staff, 23 students from the Portland metro area, ages 8 to 17, brainstormed topics such as individualism, superficial judgements, fear of violence. In helping the young people shape the script, artistic director Will Weigler says he tried to avoid pressing politically correct messages upon them.

Young Actors' Forum works to seize adults' attention through knock-'em-dead productions. Putting on shows that adults want to attend, the director's theory goes, is a way young people can be heard.

The video mixes song, dance, monologue and short scenes - some with surprise twists - to "show you the way things are," says performer Jonah Willbach, 14, a freshman at grant High School. "Then you decide for yourself."
"It is trying to bring out what people feel and have you think about it," says Hoben Spalding, 16, a freshman at Portland Community College. "It doesn't preach what you should or shouldn't do."

"Turn Loose the Voices" played to full houses two years ago in a four-week run at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center. A number of teachers told Weigler they wished they could share the show with youth and adult groups. That's the job of the new video, which Weigler hopes to distribute nationally.

Kathleen Herron of Tools for Diversity, a cross-cultural consulting business in Portland, says "Voices" is an unusually creative approach to exploring issues such as power differences and racism. She likes that it involved young people from the start and that it provokes thinking. "It seems very real," she says, "and very human."

'Turn Loose the Voices' is bold, fresh, creative and thought provoking. It challenges the viewer to re-think long held and unexamined beliefs regarding prejudice. This is a show that would work well as a teaching tool in any classroom. It is lively enough to keep the attention of any student.

          - Kathleen Herron
          Tools for Diversity
          Portland, Oregon

'Turn Loose the Voices'...was developed by kids with a strong message for all people. The play not only "tells it like it is,' it shows it, dances it and sings it like it is. I am an educational consultant who works with kids and adults in areas of cross-cultural communication and racism...if all people could see this play, I would be out of work. I say that because the message is clear. It poses a problem and asks a question, "What you gonna do?' in the first act and goes on to give suggestions and steps towards solutions in the second act. If you don't hear it in the words, maybe you get it in the symbols or the dancing or the songs. You can't help but leave with something.

          - Frances Portillo
          Educational Consultant

Order information

For information on how to order this exciting video, along with the 75-page study guide, contact Will Weigler at:

e-mail: willweigler@yahoo.com

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