GETLaunched! was a great success.

Thank you to everyone who came out to learn more about Global Empowerment Theatre and to support our work using theatre to empower people around the world!  Our supporters’ generous contributions have made our fifth year of programming in Zanzibar this June possible.  If you were unable to attend but would like to know more, please check out this video footage of the evening.

Some Words From Founder & Director, Jennifer Holmes:

As they say in Swahilli, Karibu, welcome to all of you, our friends and supporters.

I want you to picture this for a moment: The stage is a raised slab of concrete where a classroom used to be. The ruined walls and roof have long ago crumbled away. Student performers line up around this stage wearing colorful kanga cloths as shirts, shawls and headscarves. The blazing sun illuminates a scene about a young wife who is planting, picking and cooking rice for her husband. She asks her husband for help repeatedly, but  each time he says he is too tired to help. When the wife’s work is done, her husband asks, “My wife, is the rice ready?”

All eyes turn to the young girl playing the wife as her face lights up. Her voice rings out loud and powerful, and her finger points definitively at the boy playing her husband.

Wife:  You did not help me to plant the rice; you did not help me to pick the rice; you did not help me to cook the rice, so I’m going to eat alone. But you are still my husband.

The students and teachers in the audience leap to their feet and cheer. A student who had appeared to most of her teachers as shy and quiet shines with pride. Her written words, and her voice, have been heard.

The power of theatre to educate, to inspire and to enact change is undeniable. Global Empowerment Theatre’s students create a play in English about their own lives, concerns and dreams. The investment the students have in the process and product is inspiring, and the resulting growth in their confidence speaking English, a language they must know in order to pass difficult exams that give them free access to the next level education, is astounding. English literacy is the key to opportunities in education and in careers in the places where we teach; imagination is the key to critical thinking and effecting change in the community. Our programs offer students opportunities to improve English literacy and exercise their creativity through using theatre.

As many of you know, we started as a small project in Zanzibar, Tanzania. When I first visited Tanzania in 2006, I became aware of the need for enhanced English literacy training and the lack of creative expression in the country’s schools. After extensive research, conversations with local schools, the Ministry of Education and non-government organizations, and intense curriculum planning, my husband, John, and I began traveling to Zanzibar to implement theatre workshops that enhanced English literacy skills while exploring creative voice through theatre. Students were challenged to collaborate and write their own plays in English and perform them for their schools and communities. Zanzibari teachers that joined us in the workshops were given creative teaching resources. The program has been a success in Zanzibar for five years.

Last year, we decided to invite exceptional teaching artists with Masters degrees in Educational Theatre to join us. After a rigorous application process, we were lucky to find Maya Turner Singh and Ashley Olson who joined us for the first time last summer. Maya is now our Director of Development and Ashley is our Director of Education and Outreach. Since partnering together, the four of us have accomplished so much in the last year. We are now an incorporated educational non-profit with the ability to offer our donors tax-deductible contributions thanks to our fiscal sponsor Artspire, which is a project of the New York Foundation for the Arts. We expanded our programming to Delhi and Bangalore, India, partnering with a school in Delhi to offer training to teachers and partnering with the Parikrma Foundation, which serves slum children and orphans in Bangalore. We have received a generous $10,000 grant from an anonymous trust and we now have a hot new website and branding thanks to Tritonic, A Creative Agency. Thanks to personal donations from supporters like all of you, we have already raised $15,000 from individual contributions. It’s truly been an incredible year for us.

Please continue to follow our progress on our website,, “like” our page on Facebook and join our Twitter updates. Your support is not just appreciated; it is a vital part of our success.

As our friends in Tanzania say, Asante Sana, thank you very much!

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