318 Sampsonia Way

June 28 & 29
6 p.m.

The stories of Pittsburgh’s refugee communities will converge with music from diverse cultures during a world premiere set in the Mexican War Streets.

Presented by City of Asylum Pittsburgh, LOST/FOUND: Finding Refuge in Pittsburgh marks the culmination of a collaborative residency involving the Allstar Refugee Band and Archa Theatre. Working for the first time in the US, as part of a three-week community-based Artist Residency with City of Asylum, the multi-disciplinary group has created new theatrical and musical work about the refugee experience in Pittsburgh. As part of the unique residency, the group—which includes many refugees to the Czech Republic—is rehearsing and workshopping the performance in a tent on Sampsonia Way.

The work will debut during public performances on Saturday, June 28th and Sunday, 29th in open-air spaces near the Alphabet City Tent, the City of Asylum Pittsburgh pop-up event space located at 318 Sampsonia Way. Performances of the play will begin at 6 p.m., and will culminate with a lively concert by the Allstar Refugee Band at 8 p.m.

The LOST/FOUND project kicked off in February 2014, with a two-week story gathering phase. Archa Theatre’s artistic director Jana Svobodová, along with director Phillippe Schenker and composer Michael Romanyshyn, worked directly with individuals from war-torn areas such as Iraq, Congo and Bhutan, who were identified with the assistance of area resettlement agencies. During the month of June, the 10-member collective has been rehearsing and refining the production, which features original music by Michael Romanyshyn and the Allstar Refugee Band. As part of the residency, the Allstar Refugee Band also appeared at the annual U.N. World Refugee Day celebration on June 20th in Downtown’s Market Square.

Members of Pittsburgh’s refugee communities, as well as actors, musicians and performers from the area, will also participate in the event. The City of Asylum program marks the group’s first work in the U.S. The performance will mainly be in English, but look for the group’s Chinese soprano to burst into a variety of languages while singing a polka.

City of Asylum’s Artist Residency program embeds international artists, writers and musicians in the community to create an original project that tells the community’s story in a unique way. A number of residencies are planned for 2014 and 2015, and the program is supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, ARTPlace America and The Trust for Mutual Understanding.

A collective of musicians and actors from Prague, a number of whom are refugees from Kurdistan, China and other countries, Archa Theatre and the Allstar Refugee Band explore ways to resolve social problems through music and theater. Blurring boundaries between artistic theatre and social and documentary drama, their work in European refugee camps and minority communities includes the acclaimed “Dance through the Fence” (2008) and “Jesters, Spies, and Presidents” (2010).

Founded in 2004, City of Asylum Pittsburgh serves as a model for arts-based community development, bringing writers, readers and neighbors together through global literature and cultural exchange. Located on Sampsonia Way on Pittsburgh’s historic Northside, its campus includes redeveloped houses that serve as both homes for exiled writers and as public artworks. The nonprofit has presented 250-plus authors and musicians from 42 countries during free readings and concerts. Sampsonia Way, the publishing arm of City of Asylum Pittsburgh, specializes in banned books in translation and anthologies of contemporary writing from countries where free speech is under threat. Its online journal of free speech, literature and justice provides a virtual home for persecuted writers and serves a growing global audience.

City of Asylum Pittsburgh is currently working on the development of the Alphabet City Literary Center, slated to be the anchor tenant in the Garden Theater Block of the Federal North redevelopment project in Allegheny City Central. Alphabet City will occupy three ground-level storefronts of a former Masonic Temple, and will house a bookstore, free book-distribution program, recording/broadcast-enabled performance and workshop spaces and a restaurant.

Reservations are recommended for LOST/FOUND, and may be made online.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.