PORTLAND, Maine (December 21, 2021) – On November 4, a group of Portland Housing Authority (PHA) families enjoyed a special evening attending Portland Ovations’ “Cartography” at Merrill Auditorium and sharing a meal at the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, thanks to a partnership with Portland Ovations Offstage to make the performing arts more accessible to PHA youth and families.
Libby Catania, Education Specialist with the PHA Kennedy Park Study Center, organized the evening with Sara Coleman, Director of Portland Ovations Offstage, School & Family Programs, and with support from Marshall Maxsimic and Fayla Sutton. The Kennedy Park Study Center, located at 51 Mayo Street in heart of the Kennedy Park neighborhoods, is one of four study centers PHA operates to provide community members of all ages an environment where they can be academically and socially successful.
“Education has been a focus of PHA programming since 1992 when the first study center opened. We have worked hard to turn the study centers into community resource centers and engage learners of all ages and levels,” said Cheryl Sessions, Executive Director of the Portland Housing Authority. “We are so grateful to Portland Ovations Offstage for their support expanding opportunities for residents to experience the performing arts.”
“Cartography” is a multimedia, devised documentary theatrical piece by Kaneza Schaal and Christopher Myers that asks what part we play in the lives of young people who set out into the unsure waters of their futures. “Cartography” is part of Portland Ovations’ Seeking Resonance series in partnership with Indigo Arts Alliance and in collaboration with the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center.
Malaika Uwamahoro, who played a leading role in “Cartography” and is originally from Rwanda, hosted an acting workshop at the Kennedy Park Study Center a week before the show, which made the experience that much more enjoyable for the students who attended, recognized Malaika, and excitedly spoke with her after the show in their shared language.
“One of the best aspects of the performance was a live interactive map. All of the attendees put their country of origin in an app and saw the map projected on a large screen,” said Libby Catania. “It was fascinating for them to see the audience was made up of people from all around the world.”
Haloum Ibrahim, who attended with her four children, and Abeer Ahmed, who attended with one of her children, shared how it was “nice to be together” and that “everything was beautiful.” Fifth grader Fatima Zamat most enjoyed “how they were moving the boxes around the stage.”
“I am so happy to hear about the experience that the residents had. It was so great to see them rush the stage after the show,” said Sarah Coleman. “It's when I believe the most in the power of theatre.”
About Portland Housing Authority
Established in 1943, the Portland Housing Authority and its affiliated corporations provide long-term, affordable fair rental housing and related assistance to more than 3,000 low-income families, seniors, and disabled individuals. It does this primarily through federally funded and regulated programs, including the Foster Youth to Independence Program (FYI) and the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program. In collaboration with community partners and fellow housing authorities like South Portland and Westbrook, PHA strives to improve quality of life, build community, enhance safety, and promote personal success for the people it serves and the neighborhoods in which they reside. For more information, visit www.porthouse.org.
About Portland Ovations
We are a non-profit performing arts organization in Maine connecting artists and audiences through diverse arts experiences. Be thoroughly entertained by live performances spanning the traditional to the contemporary, the popular to the unexpected. Learn from and be inspired by artists who openly share with us their passion and craft. www.portlandovations.org