An Art Space In Ethiopia Has Strong Vermont Ties

May 4, 2017

What began as a theater space in the Ethiopian city of Awassa to educate community members about HIV/AIDS has strong Vermont ties.

In the early 2000s, local actor David Schein went to Ethiopia to help found One Love HIV/AIDS Awareness Theater. His goal was to teach young people theater and circus arts so they could present it to communities and educate them on HIV/AIDS prevention. The One Love Theater was a great success and, over the years, has collaborated with writers, visual artists, actors and musicians from all over the world, making art for social change.

Now, Ethiopian hip hop and graffiti artist Behulum Mengistu, who was one of those kids attending the One Love Theater art space years ago, is that theater's managing director. And he is in Vermont to share his works, his music and message of art for social change.

While in the state, Behulum has been visiting local schools to work with students, creating art projects and sharing the story of One Love Theater. Schein and Mengistu both recently spoke to VPR about the project.

Credit Courtesy, artist Behulum Mengistu

The Behulum Graffitti and One Love Theater event is Tuesday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m., at The OffCenter For The Dramatic Arts on N. Winooski Avenue in Burlington. Meet the artist, learn about making theater in Africa and find out more about the Willowell Foundation's Vermont/Ethiopia Teachers' Exchange.