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CHILDREN OF WAR: A PROJECT BY PING CHONG

November 26, 2002
Contact: Press & Media Relations Coordinator (703-993-8794)

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PLEASE CONTACT MEDIA REP LIZ WAINGER FOR INFORMATION.

For Immediate Release
Contact : Liz Wainger
(301) 340-6831/301-461-3780 liz@lizwaingercommunications.com

World Renowned Playwright and Social Service Agency Collaborate to Present
"Children of War," December 5 through 15, at George Mason University


Play offers hope and healing to children who’ve experienced horrors of war


(Falls Church, VA, November 25, 2002) … A new play exploring the experiences of war through the eyes, voices and personal memories of local immigrant children will debut December 5 through 15 at George Mason University. "Children of War," a collaboration between internationally renowned playwright Ping Chong and the Center for Multicultural Human Services (CMHS), in association with Mason's professional Theater of the First Amendment, features five children between the ages of 12 and 18 who have seen the worst of human nature and have emerged as triumphant survivors and testaments to the resiliency of the human spirit. The children come from El Salvador, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone Somalia and Kurdistan.

"Through this production, we are exploring the use of theater and narrative as a means of healing," says Dr. Dennis Hunt, Executive Director of CMHS. "The children who tell their stories are our neighbors and part of the fabric of our community. We hope that what we have learned through this production will be adapted and applied to the many thousands of young war victims who have sought refuge in the U.S. but whose spirits remain bruised and who carry emotional and physical scars that those around them often cannot see."

CMHS has been doing pioneering work in treating war and torture victims since 1982. The organization invited Ping Chong to create a production probing the impact of war and violence on young people after several CMHS staff had seen the playwright’s "Undesirable Elements," a series of work that provides a poignant and penetrating look at the contemporary immigrant experience. CMHS began collaborating with Ping Chong early this summer, helping Chong find young people who were ready and willing to tell their stories and participate in the production. CMHS plans to use some elements of play in preparing instruction materials to be used as educational and therapeutic tools in other communities where young war survivors live.

"World events have made the subject of Children of War more timely and urgent than ever before," said Ping Chong. "In the course my ongoing work creating theater based on the oral histories of new Americans, I have been to artistic and personal places I never expected to go. It has been a tremendous honor to take this most recent journey with these courageous young people."

Children of War will be performed at TheaterSpace at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Performances are December 5-7, at 8PM (December 5 & 6 are benefit evenings), and December 8 at 2PM. Also, December 12-14, at 8PM and December 15 at 2PM.

Funds raised from the play will go to supporting CMHS in its efforts to meet the needs of refugee and immigrant children. Tickets to the benefit nights are available by calling 301-294-4690. Tickets for all other performances are available through www.tickets.com.

Founded in 1982, the Center for Multicultural Human Services provides comprehensive array of mental health and related services in 34 languages to more than 6,000 individuals and families each year. Recently CMHS became part of the federal funded National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), a major project launched to raise awareness about the plight of children and adolescent trauma survivors in our communities and to develop and implement treatment models to respond to their needs. CMHS is one of several national treatment centers that are part of this newly established network.

Ping Chong is one of the most significant Asian American artists working in the U.S. today. Born in 1946 and raised in the Chinatown section of New York City, Chong studied film-making and graphic design at the School of Visual Arts and Pratt Institute. He began his theater career as a member of Meredith’s Monks The House Foundation. In 1975, he founded Ping Chong and Company to explore the meaning of contemporary theater and art on national and international level. Some of his best known works include Undesirable Elements, Humboldt’s Current and Kind Ness. Today the company creates unfailing innovative works of theater and art for modern, multicultural audiences throughout the world. Chong has won numerous awards for his work including an Obie and USA Playwrights Award.