Forging a strong personal identity while simultaneously connecting to the larger world can be a complex puzzle to tease out over time. At Buffalo State, the search for a deeper understanding of identity will be condensed into two days. The 2015 Anne Frank Project (AFP), “Identity, Inclusion and the World,” held September 16 and 17, will delve into social-, racial-, sexual-, and community-identity, with an overarching focus on social justice. It is free and open to the public.
This year marks the seventh annual AFP festival—the genesis of a 2006 production of The Diary of Anne Frank that incorporated a storyline about a Tutsi girl during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In the ensuing years, AFP has blossomed into an interactive, multidisciplinary festival that attracts thousands of visitors to campus each September.
“The number seven represents wisdom in multiple cultures and traditions—we are indeed a bit wiser this year as we use the festival to reflect on the growth of the Anne Frank Project and our role on campus,” said Drew Kahn, AFP director and professor of theater. “We take the responsibility of telling Buffalo State’s story to heart as we explore ‘Identity, Inclusion and the World’ this year.”
Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in interactive discussions, theatrical performances, and social justice workshops, among other offerings, during the festival.
“The key word is hands-on,” said Eve Everette, AFP assistant director. “The feedback we got from participants last year was that they like interactive sessions the most. We also condensed the conference into two days to focus on quality over quantity and to have fewer concurrent sessions.”
This year, representatives from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community will discuss sexual identity. They includes Dominique Chestand, a Chicago-based teaching artist and activist, who will present “Natural Histories of the Queer Black Body”; AFP fellow Charlene Vetter, senior counselor in the Buffalo State Counseling Center, who will speak to LGBTQ relationship violence; and New York City playwright Mykel Dicus who will perform his one-man play Pieces of Me, chronicling his survival and eventual triumph following a hate crime.
“We hope to celebrate our diverse campus and local communities by expanding, challenging, and embracing our multiple layers of identity,” Kahn said. “We can only begin this process as a public access institution by activating inclusion. This means we don’t live in a sheltered vacuum—we must open our eyes to our place in the world. With more than 70 percent of our presenters coming from off-campus, we are thrilled to host AFP 2015.”
The festival takes place each day from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the Campbell Student Union assembly halls and the Donald Savage Theater and Communication Building’s Flexible Theatre. Also, two festival-related art exhibits will be on display in the Czurles-Nelson and Bacon galleries in Upton Hall.
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