street sense - roy barber

Volunteer Leader – Playwriting and Staged Performance Workshop

Roy Barber is a playwright, composer, teacher, director and activist. He has been creating Theater for Social Change for the last 30 years in Washington DC, South Africa, and Israel/Palestine. His focus has been empowerment of people in crisis. In 1995 he received a grant to go to Johannesburg, South Africa, to write about the HOMELESS TALKS newspaper. He created the musical play GIFT with seven of the South African vendors (called the MUKA PROJECT) about the founding of their paper.

He brought them to Washington in 1997 to perform this play as a special project of the Source Theater Festival where it received the Creativity Award for its sold out run. Since 1999 he has worked with the Bokamoso Youth Centre in impoverished Winterveldt, South Africa, creating musical dramas from the stories of township youth struggling with poverty, joblessness, teen pregnancy, HIV-AIDS, domestic violence, and sexual/gender identity. He and George Washington University Theater professor Leslie Jacobson collaborate in creating these musical dramas with the youth, using a combination of African and Western theater techniques. He is Founder and President of the Bokamoso Youth Foundation which creates college scholarships for these youth-at-risk. Roy wrote Dance Against Darkness with Bari Biern at the beginning of the AIDS crisis in Washington, created from stories of persons living with AIDS, their caregivers and loved ones. This play was also produced in Chicago, at The New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, in Memphis and in Houston, where it received the Mayor’s Award for Service.

His musical drama Children With Stones, written from the voices of Israelis and Palestinians was produced in Washington and was nominated for DC’s Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play and Best Musical. He toured his Sasha Bruce Youthwork sponsored AIDS awareness play, Won’t Happen to Me, for ten years in over 200 venues in the DC area. His play Ain’t no Home won a special award from the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence. With Leslie Jacobson he wrote I Want to Tell You in favor of safe schools which was performed in 20 schools, churches, and community centers.

He is a graduate of Georgetown College, and received an MA from Boston University in Culture/Personality and Religion, and a M.Ed. from Lesley College in Expressive Therapies and Special Needs Education.