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Panel Discussions

We are really excited to be having discussion panels in this festival. The panels are a way for you, the audience, to process your experience of watching the plays, and share your thoughts and feelings together, to ask questions, and get useful information that will help you take action toward gun violence prevention. We want to hear what you have to say. Dialogue is the first step to toward action. 

Panel Discussions:


How to prevent gun violence in New York City and other urban areas

Thursday, December 12th at 9pm

This panel, led by a group of experts, will focus on how we can work together toward violence prevention in New York City and other urban areas, like Hartford and Bridgeport, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey. What is unique about gun violence in cities? What specific challenges do law makers, community organizers, social workers, and the citizens living in these communities face on a daily basis? What resources are available to them and what resources do they lack? We'll learn how we as citizens of New York City, Connecticut, and New Jersey help to make a difference.


Andrew Woods (Communities That Care--Hartford, CT)

Ashley Marinaccio (Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Girl Be Heard)

Jessica Morris (Co-Founder and Executive Director, Girl Be Heard)

Jackie Rowe Adams (Founder and Executive Director, Harlem Mothers SAVE)

Hakim Yamadi—(Save Our Streets, South Bronx) 

Christopher Ryan—(Head of the Violent Crimes Unit, Manhattan D.A.'s office)


How to create theater for social change

Friday, December 13th at 4pm

This panel is for theater artists and audience members who are interested in learning how to create theater that can make a difference in society. Theater that illuminates problems and injustices in our country and cities and  neighborhoods. Theater that creates and dialogue and inspires action. We will have playwrights, directors, and producers from the festival talking about how they created their plays, what inspired them, and how they've been changed by the experience. Learn how to take your passion for a better world and put it on the stage!


Ashley Marinaccio (Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Girl Be Heard)

Dana Greenfield (Creator and Director, The Sandy Hook Theater Project)

Adina Taubman (Producer of The Stop Gun Violence NOW Festival and writer/performer, A LINE IN THE SAND)

Zac Kline (playwright and co-editor of 24 GUN CONTROL PLAYS)

Megan Donovan and Dan Cooley (Co-Artistic Directors of The Playground Theatre Project, NJ)

Ralph Colombino (Co-Director, BANG BANG YOU'RE DEAD)


How to take legislative and political action

Friday, December 13th at 8:45pm

Do you ever feel helpless and overwhelmed when you hear about the senseless acts of gun violence that happen daily in America? Do you find yourself wondering what, if anything, you can do to stop it? This is the panel for you. Local gun control activists, who have committed their lives to preventing gun violence by working to support sensible gun laws will share their experiences, their insights, their passion, and concrete steps you can take immediately to make our streets and our schools safer. Panelists include Leah Barrett from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Po Murray from Newtown Action Alliance, and members of the Greater New York chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. 


Leah Gunn Barrett (Executive Director, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence)

Po Murray (Executive Director, Newtown Action Alliance)

Wendy Syzmanski (Chapter Head, NY Greater NY, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America)

Marie Delus (member, Moms Demand Action)

Kim Russell (National Director of Outreach, Moms Demand Action)

Jamie Abelson (Deputy State Coordinator, Organizing for Action)

Donna Dees Thomases (Million Mom March)


How survivors, families, and communities recover from gun violence and move forward

Saturday, December 14th at 9pm

After the trauma and devastating loss caused by gun violence, how do we recover and move forward in our lives? This incredibly inspiring group of panelists will share their stories of hope and strength in the face of the unthinkable. They talk about how they've learned not just to cope, but how to turn their pain into action, how they've go on to help others and to fight to prevent gun violence. You will hear from a parent, who lost his son in the Newtown massacre, and from social workers, psychologists, survivors, and activists. This panel discussion will immediately follow our tribute to the Sandy Hook victims and their families. 


Vilma Torres (Safe Horizon)

Neil Heslin (Newtown parent)

Hakim Yamadi (Save Our Streets, South Bronx)

Ms. Vida Toppin (parent of a gun violence victim)


How parents and kids can talk to each other about gun violence

Sunday, December 15th at 6pm

Sadly, we live in a country where gun violence happens every day. Kids are shot and killed every day. How can we as parents learn to talk to our kids about gun violence? They hear about it from their friends or on the news. They see it in movies and video games. How can we help them make sense of these senseless acts, and make them feel safe? Kids and young people also need a way to communicate with their parents about what they're feeling in the face of all this violence. It can be very confusing and frightening. We invite parents to bring their children and teenagers to this panel discussion to learn effective ways of speaking together about a difficult and important subject. 


Dr. Robin Goodman (A Caring Hand Billy Esposito Foundation)

Anne Santa (School psychologist--The Bank Street School for Children)