The A.R.T. of Human Rights

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A collaboration between the American Repertory Theater & Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University.

In 2014/15, the American Repertory Theater and the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School launched The A.R.T. of Human Rights, a groundbreaking collaboration that uses the arts and the humanities to explore some of the most pressing human rights issues of our time. With support from a Mass Humanities project grant, this new series features public conversations with leading artists, academics, and activists, as well as educational and artistic partnerships with local schools and organizations. Building on the Carr Center’s commitment to advancing human rights principles, and the A.R.T.’s mission to “expand the boundaries of theater,” The A.R.T. of Human Rights is designed to foster a new model for community education, civic engagement, and creative expression. The A.R.T. of Human Rights is directed and hosted by Timothy Patrick McCarthy, award-winning Harvard faculty member and director of the Carr Center’s Sexuality, Gender, and Human Rights Program.

2017/18 Season

Resistance Mic!

NOV 8, FEB 7, MAR 7, APR 4, MAY 16

The 2016 election inspired a broad-based resistance not seen in the United States in decades. People from all walks of life have been protesting, marching, mobilizing, and organizing in an effort to take back our country and create a more compassionate and just world. Artists are vital to this work. The American Repertory Theater and Carr Center for Human Rights Policy—in collaboration with Pangyrus and other literary and arts initiatives—are launching a new series of intimate performances on the theme of “resistance.” Each evening will feature a diverse group of artist-activists telling powerful stories and performing politically engaged works that read, move, sing, and speak truth to power in these troubled times.

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A Reading of Building the Wall

Ames Courtroom

Building the Wall lays out the potential consequences of contemporary anti-immigration campaign rhetoric. Set in 2019, the play imagines the rhetoric has become policy, and massive numbers of undocumented immigrants and others have been incarcerated in private prisons and camps. As Rick, the former warden of one facility, awaits sentencing for events which happened under his watch, he is interviewed by Gloria, a historian who has come in search of the truth about how the unthinkable became the inevitable. The issues raised in the play will be explored in the panel discussion that follows. Professor Timothy Patrick McCarthy (Host, A.R.T. of Human Rights; Core Faculty and Director of Culture Change & Social Justice Initiatives, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School) will facilitate a conversation with Matias Ramos (Director, Phillips Brooks House Association, Harvard University; Co-Founder, United We Dream), Karen Finney (2017 Fellow, Institute of Politics, Harvard Kennedy School; Former Communications Director, Democratic National Committee), and Building the Wall playwright Robert Schenkkan.

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2016/17 Season

Trans Scripts Act II

Loeb Drama Center

The A.R.T. of Human Rights and the Harvard College Office of BGLTQ Student Life presented a public conversation on BGLTQ identity development and intergenerational dynamics in college and beyond. Presented in conjunction with the A.R.T.’s production of Trans Scripts, Part I: The Women, the panel featured playwright Paul Lucas, special guests from Harvard, and was moderated by Professor Timothy Patrick McCarthy, Program Director at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School. This performance began with a welcome by Harvard BGLTQ Office Director Sheehan Scarborough.

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Screening of My Prairie Home with Discussion

JAN 30

Embark on an exploration through the documentary-musical screening of My Prairie Home, in which indie singer Rae Spoon takes us on a playful, meditative and at times melancholic journey. Set against majestic images of the infinite expanses of the Canadian prairies—interviews, performances, and music sequences reveal Spoon’s inspiring process of building a life of their own, as a trans person and as a musician. Tim McCarthy moderated a discussion with Spoon and performance artist NIC Kay about accessibility, process, creation, and the challenges ahead for trans and queer artists.

Deep Water: The Real Story Film Screening and Discussion

JAN 24
Littauer Center

This is the story of how a wave of vicious crime engulfed a community but was invisible to most. A tale of police ineptitude, of a society riddled by homophobia. It’s a story that asks how much a life is worth, which lives are the most valuable, of heartbroken families, of searing grievance. For the first time Deep Water: The Real Story presents the full account of the gay hate crime epidemic that bloodied Sydney’s coastline. It stirs up old cases in the hope that new evidence will rise to the surface. It sheds light on the many deaths officially recorded as ‘unsolved’, ‘suicide’ or ‘death by misadventure’. Could these men also be the victims of gay hate murders?

2015/16 Season


APR 11
Tsai Auditorium

A.R.T. of Human Rights presents a discussion with Ifeoma Fafunwa and Timothy P. McCarthy, Program Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School. This conversation is presented in conjunction with HEAR WORD! Naija Woman Talk True.

Plays That Don’t Play: The Drama of Lynching

Ames Courtroom

Beginning in 1916, a group of black women in Washington D.C. came together to protest ceaseless acts of terrorism against African Americans – by writing plays. These plays, which were written over many decades and never commercially produced, focus on the survivors: lynching victims’ mothers, siblings and spouses. They tell the stories of women who tried to prevent the violence and how they struggled to endure in its aftermath. The April 7th reading will feature three of these little known plays: Mary Burrill’s Aftermath (1919), Georgia Douglas Johnson’s A Sunday Morning in the South (1925), and May Miller’s Nails and Thorns (1933). The cast includes students from Harvard College, Harvard Law School, Harvard Graduate School of Education, the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training, and Northeastern University. The reading will be followed by a panel discussion on the role of theater in confronting racial terrorism, hosted by Timothy P. McCarthy, Program Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School. Co-sponsored by the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School.

1984 Discussion with Juliette Kayyem

Loeb Drama Center

In government, the academy, private sector and journalism, Juliette Kayyem has served as a national leader in America’s homeland security efforts. Kayyem is founder of one of the few female-owned security businesses and provides strategic advice to a range of companies in technology, risk management, mega-event planning and venture capital. As a faculty member at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, she teaches new leaders in emergency management and national security and has authored several books on homeland security.

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1984 Discussion with Alberto Mora

FEB 28
Loeb Drama Center

Alberto Mora was born in 1952 in Boston, Massachusetts, and received a B.A. with honors, from Swarthmore College and a J.D. from University of Miami School of Law. He has held positions with the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. embassy in Lisbon, Portugal, in the George H.W. Bush administration as General Counsel to the United States Information Agency, and as a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Beginning in 2001, as the General Counsel of the Navy, he led efforts in the Department of Defense to oppose Bush administration legal theories that allowed harsh interrogation tactics at the U.S. detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mora has been honored for his constitutional heroics, including the Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and by the Distinguished Honor Award from the United States Information Agency.

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A Reading of Trans Scripts

NOV 23

This will be a reading of Trans Scripts, a verbatim stage play that centers on the lives of six trans women. Their true stories, told in their own words, are honest, funny, moving, insightful, and inspiring. But most of all, they are human, shedding light not on our differences, but on what all people share, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, or physical sex.

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2014/15 Season

Fighting for Freedom: The Civil War and Its Legacies

Loeb Drama Center

Harvard University Professor Timothy Patrick McCarthy in conversation with Suzan-Lori Parks, playwright, Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3); Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University; and Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University.


Politically Incorrect: Feminism and the Future of the Planet

NOV 18
Farkas Hall

Harvard University Professor Timothy Patrick McCarthy in conversation with Eve Ensler, Tony Award-winning playwright, The Vagina Monologues and O.P.C.


Proclamation 2: Radicals

NOV 8 & 9

Proclamation is an eight-week, after-school writing and performance lab for rising high school juniors and seniors from Boston and Cambridge. Each year, ten students are selected to create and perform an original theater piece. This year’s program, Proclamation 2, will explore the theme of radicals, inspired by Timothy Patrick McCarthy’s The Radical Reader.

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All the Way?: The Unfinished Struggle for Civil Rights

OCT 22
Loeb Drama Center

Harvard University ProfessorTimothy Patrick McCarthy in conversation with Robert Schenkkan, Tony Award-winning playwright, All the Way; and Professor Lani Guinier, Harvard Law School, Tufts University Professor Peniel E. Joseph, and Lisa Coleman, Chief Diversity Officer and Special Assistant to the President.


United in Anger: ACT-ing UP, Fighting AIDS

OCT 20
Harvard Film Archive

Harvard University Professor Timothy Patrick McCarthy in conversation with Jim Hubbard, director, United in AngerEvelynn Hammonds, Harvard University; and David Pendleton, programmer, Harvard Film Archive. This event is open to the public and free to Harvard ID holders.

ACT UP Oral History Project: An Introduction

OCT 20
Carr Center

Public seminar with Harvard University Professor Timothy Patrick McCarthy; Jim Hubbard, co-founder, ACT UP Oral History Project; and Gregory Eow, Charles Warren Bibliographer of American History, Harvard University. This event is free and open to the public.

Bearing Witness to Uganda: God, Gays, and Human Rights


Timothy Patrick McCarthy in conversation with Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews, co-creators, Witness Uganda; John “Long Jones” Wambere, co-founder, Spectrum Uganda Initiatives; and Malika Zouhali-Worrall, co-director and producer, Call Me Kuchu.