Bokamoso Youth Foundation: The Future Begins Here

Roy Barber, President, Bokamoso Youth Foundation

Playwright, composer, teacher, director, activist Roy Barber has been creating Theater for Social Change for the last 20 years in Washington DC, South Africa, and Israel/Palestine. His focus has been empowerment of youth in crisis.

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 helped establish the Bokamoso Youth Foundation to create college scholarships for these youth-at-risk. Each January he brings 12 South African youth to Washington where they perform these new plays and are hosted for one month by the families at St. Andrew's High School where he is Diversity co-ordinator and teaches performing arts, and Cultural History. He then brings these American high school students to South Africa for their spring break, establishing a total exchange between these youth across the world. The Bokamoso Youth have also established an ongoing exchange with George Washington University.

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 taught Musical Theater for Washington's Playwright's Forum.

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.

He currently teaches at both St. Andrew's Episcopal School and George Washington University.