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Imaging Genocide: Artistic Responses to Mass Violence, Storytelling and Performance

Visions and Voices

Playwrights Yvette Rugasaguhunga and Catherine Filloux will perform short theatrical pieces on the Rwandan and Cambodian genocides. Following the performance, a conversation will explore the power of theatre and storytelling to raise awareness and inspire global audiences.

Playwright Catherine Filloux will present her short play Photographs from S-21 about the Cambodian genocide. Activist-performer Yvette Rugasaguhunga will perform her solo play Assom. Following the performance, Rugasaguhunga, who survived the Rwandan genocide as a child, Filloux, USC dramatic arts professor Stacie Chaiken and USC Shoah Foundation executive director Stephen D. Smith will engage with the audience: How do artists interact with firsthand accounts of mass atrocities? Does performance and storytelling have the power to transform perception, create a broader awareness and understanding about genocide, and bring about real change?

Background information about Catherine Filloux, Yvette Rugasaguhunga and their work:

About the Artists:

Yvette Nyombayire Rugasaguhunga, a survivor of the genocide against Rwandan Tutsis lived through the genocide at age fourteen. Although she survived with six siblings, she lost many family members including her father, four siblings and three grandparents. Rugasaguhunga started working with survivors at age fifteen. Throughout high school, she took on leadership roles at organizations of survivors both at the school and the province level. After moving to the U.S. in 2004, Rugasaguhunga embarked on her journey to speak about her genocide experience after encountering a genocide denier. As a poet and performer, she played in different genocide-related plays in Rwanda. In 2010, she wrote A Survivor’s State of Mind as she explored new ways to expand her audience, and art offered her another “voice” to represent the victims and other survivors. So far, Rugasaguhunga has shared “the lessons learned” from her genocide through public speaking or artistic performance with thousands of people across the U.S. and Canada including at the United Nations in April 2010 and at Capitol Hill in April 2011. Since 2012, Rugasaguhunga has served as the chair of the organizing committee for the 2012 North American commemoration of the genocide against Tutsis and for the 2013 National Commemoration to be held in Silver Spring, MD, on April 7, 2013. She holds a BA in Finance and works as a Senior Shared Services Analyst at Henry Schein Inc. in New York.

Catherine Filloux is an award-winning playwright, whose new play LUZ recently premiered at La MaMa in New York City, where she is a Resident Artist. Filloux has been commissioned to write a one-woman play for the actress Marietta Hedges surrounding the civil rights movement and the KKK, which will premiere at La MaMa in 2014. Filloux’s libretto, New Arrivals, also recently premiered at Houston Grand Opera, Song of Houston (composer John Glover). Her more than twenty plays have been produced in New York City and around the world. She is the librettist for Where Elephants Weep (composer Him Sophy), which opened in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and The Floating Box: A Story in Chinatown (composer Jason Kao Hwang), which played at Asia Society and is released by New World Records. Filloux’s awards include: Voice Award for Artistic Works (Voices of Women), New Generations-Future Collaborations Award (Mellon Foundation/TCG), PeaceWriting Award (Omni Center for Peace), Critics Choice Opera News, Roger L. Stevens Award (Kennedy Center), Eric Kocher Playwrights Award (O'Neill) and the Callaway Award (New Dramatists). She is a Fulbright Senior Specialist (Cambodia and Morocco), Asian Cultural Council Grant, NEA and MAP Fund recipient and also a Core Writer (The Playwrights’ Center) and New Dramatists alumna. Filloux’s plays are widely published and her play anthologies include Dog and Wolf & Killing the Boss, Two Plays (NoPassport Press) and Silence of God and Other Plays (Seagull Books, London Limited). She lives in New York City with her husband John Daggett. 

Watch Catherine Filloux's video Theatre, Memory, and Grappling with Complicity–Cambodia here:

Organized by the USC Shoah Foundation—The Institute for Visual History and Education. Co-sponsored by the USC School of Dramatic Arts and STAND. 

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