Global Arts Corps

Global Arts Corps (GAC) works with artists who either once looked down the barrel of a gun at each other or, as children of conflict, still deal with memories not yet healed.


GAC is an international community of professional artists who use theatre to catalyze dialogue and to disturb, provoke and unsettle preconceived notions about ourselves and others. The goal of the Global Arts Corps is to become a multi-lingual, multi-cultural resource for conflict transformation and reconciliation in conflict zones across the globe.

The prototype for the Global Arts Corps is the original theatre production Truth in Translation. This award-winning show began as collaboration between an exceptional company of South African actors and musicians, an American director, contributing writers from both countries and a legendary South African musician/composer.


The Truth in Translation Project brought to light stories of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission as told from the point of view of the Commission’s young interpreters. Performing in South Africa and on tour to other post-conflict areas around the world, the production posed the question that Nelson Mandela asked of his own country: “Can we forgive the past to survive the future?” In every country where it played – in response to the stage production and workshops that followed – audiences expressed the desire to tell their own stories, using their own local humor and music. It is this reaction that inspired the creation of the Global Arts Corps.


After seeing a performance of Truth in Translation in Kigali, Rwanda, Lauren Embrey was so inspired that she suggested to Global Arts Corps’ founders, Michael and Jackie Lessac, that they bring the production to Dallas. While they had intended to only tour to post-conflict areas, Lauren convinced them that there was plenty of conflict in Dallas. This lead to the American premiere of the production at SMU’s Bob Hope Theatre in 2007, after which the cast and production traveled to Flint, MI, Colorado Springs, CO, Jackson Hole, WY, and Washington, D.C.

Currently, Global Arts Corps is working in Cambodia to develop a touring circus/theatre production with young performers—second- and third-generation survivors of a genocide— who want to explode the traumatic legacy of silence in their country using their world-class circus skills to tell their story. In the United States, GAC is collaborating with presenting partners to bring a theatre production developed with actors from both republican and loyalist backgrounds in the North of Ireland to areas struggling with racial, economic, ethnic, and religious tensions, starting with Dallas, Flint, and Boston. Global Arts Corps has also created a feature-length, documentary film, A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake, from footage captured throughout the development, performances, and tour of Truth in Translation. After premiering at the Durban International Film Festival in 2014, A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake has been screened at festivals around the world and recently won the prestigious Social Justice Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Following the completion of the GAC’s production in Cambodia, Global Arts Corps plans to develop a new project with Muslim, Jewish, Roma and Christian youth in France.