Black background graphic image with two rectangular yellow boxes that have #HereToo cut out and a blue podcast symbol on the bottom right

#HereToo podcast highlights local youth activism around gun violence and social justice issues

The blossoming collaboration between #HereToo and the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture has produced a podcast highlighting local youth activism.

Season one of the #HereToo Podcast launched on Aug. 27 and for eight weeks each Friday will feature one local youth activist per episode.

Founded by Tectonic Theater Project members Barbara Pitts McAdams and Jimmy Maize, #HereToo is a two-pronged project involving a web portal to aggregate stories, images, and media clips that will inform an original “Laramie-Project-like” interview-based play chronicling the first-person experiences of gun violence survivors and the work of young activists across the United States.

The relationship between #HereToo and Penn State began in 2018 and has produced two residencies in 2019 during which School of Theatre faculty and students wrote and performed portions of the play.

School of Theatre faculty member Jeanmarie Higgins, who was recently named #HereToo dramaturge, said the podcast is the next step in the partnership and embraces a key drive of the #HereToo project, which is to amplify youth activists’ voices as they work for social change.

Interviews for the podcast were conducted remotely during the summer by School of Theatre student interns Alex Wind, Andrew Fei, Catherine Bennis, David Reingold, Elena Sgouros, Freddie Miller, Helen Zheng and Mary Rose Valentine. The podcast was produced by the head of the B.F.A. in Acting program, Steve Snyder.

“The interns worked to identify these interviewees, they conducted the interviews and they edited them for the podcast launch,” Higgins said. “We all learned so many technical skills this summer, things we never thought we’d need to know but that COVID conditions made necessary.”

The #HereToo internship project was designed to function entirely remotely by Higgins and the College of Arts and Architecture’s engagement and career coordinator Kendall Mainzer, which led to the award of six Student Engagement Network Remote Innovation Grants that funded the majority of the project.

Additional funding and support came from the School of Theatre, the Center for Pedagogy in Arts and Design, the Arts and Design Research Incubator and Penn State Special Collections.

This project could not reflect Penn State’s recent commitment to social change more strongly.” -Jeanmarie Higgins

“We wanted to take our national project and make it have an impact here at home. Central Pennsylvania has a tricky relationship to gun violence issues because so many here come from a culture of hunting and sport that involves gun ownership and environmental stewardship,” Higgins said. “Our project asks our local and global communities to look at how our choices impact our neighbors and to consider that our neighborhood is larger than most of us currently think.”

Undergraduate students at all Penn State campuses are encouraged to apply for a Remote Innovation Grant that will support virtual, remote, and/or face-to-face engagement opportunities during fall semester 2020. Students may apply for either a $1,000 award or a $2,000 award. Successful applications will receive the requested amount to complete their experience by Jan. 8, 2021 and will participate in the SEN Canvas course (no cost, non-credit bearing) centered on the student engagement journey. More details can be found on the SEN website.