Someone once asked me how long Wynn Handman, my acting teacher, had been around. Red Buttons was his student, I replied. That long.
25 years ago Wynn founded Literature To Life and I, along with countless other students, performed 60-minute solo, staged adaptations of literature classics. For over 12 years, I performed The House on Mango Street in school auditoriums, performing arts centers, NY public libraries and classrooms the size of a supply closet for schools so underfunded and overcrowded they had no room to spare. This is where I got my acting chops. This is where I understood Wynn’s legacy, manifested through Literature to Life: Voices Worth Hearing to those who need it MOST.
During the pandemic we continue performing and working remotely with students. Schools in the Bronx have seen The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao streaming live into their homes, then created their own monologues to share on their classroom Zoom. I am producing Lit To Life’s newest title, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang, the story of a young girl’s harrowing journey from the war-torn jungles of Laos to the refugee camps of Thailand, eventually finding her way – and voice – in America. I have witnessed students create their own cultural narratives springing from their experience of the book. These living stories have the power to connect us in isolating times.
Our very first (and I hope only virtual) Literature to Life Gala will be held on Feb 25th 7pm to support the students, teachers and continuum of this urgent and significant work. Please come! Here’s the info: https://literaturetolife.org/
virtual-gala (invite below). If you cannot attend, please consider making a donation (no amount is too small). If you cannot give at this time, please share this event and our website with others.
Thank you for reading this far at a time when bandwidth is low and attention is tactfully reserved.
Hope to see you there,
Ana Maria Jomolca
Producer, The Latehomecomer