Voices from the March A Documentary Play

Statement of Purpose

We are raising funds to support the costs associated with presenting our original documentary play, “Voices from the March,” at the Southwestern Oral History Conference in Fullerton, CA, April 26-29, 2018. Project costs include airfare, accommodation, and conference expenses. Funds raised will specifically support the eleven student cast members in the play.

“A bracing declaration of outrage, compassion, and hope. These stories prove that we can get through this time of crisis, together, maybe bruised but not broken.” – Terry Harpold, Audience Member

Letter From the Director

Dear Colleague,

I am writing to ask for your support in order to send University of Florida students to the Southwestern Oral History Association annual meeting at California State University, Fullerton to perform a student-created performance titled Voices from the March which is based on the experiences of UF students at the Women’s March on Washington and the Presidential Inauguration of Donald J. Trump. In this web feature, you will hear from our students about the importance of this research endeavor. First, let me give you a brief history of this exciting project.

A few days after the 2016 Presidential Election, Bonnie Moradi, director of the UF Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research (CGSWSR) contacted me with an audacious idea: CGSWSR and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) should join together to send a team of students to document the newly-announced Women’s March on Washington.

At the same time, students at the University of Florida were raising their voices in alarm and asking if the fragile gains made by generations of LGBT, civil rights, and women’s movement organizers were now in danger of being eroded or lost entirely. In the midst of what appeared to be a moment of social crisis, Women’s Studies and Oral History decided to do what we do best as researchers: use the skills we teach in the digital humanities, interviewing and narrative writing to document first-hand the historic events unfolding in the nation’s capital.

None of this would have been possible however, without the financial support of dozens of individuals and research centers who contributed precious funds to this field work collaboration. (We did not have a line item in our budget to send students to Washington, DC!)

In retrospect, it seems quite clear that our students were asking us for the right to witness and to document history firsthand. Ultimately, we were able to outfit seventeen University of Florida students with state-of-the-art digital equipment to record events which were being watched by millions of people at the same time all over the earth. Included among our project objectives were the following goals:

  • Capitalize on a unique and timely opportunity for students to learn about the relationships among politics, social movements, and social action.
  • Document a critical moment in U.S. political history and women’s history, situating it in historical context.
  • Explore the human impact of this historical moment and what it means for different people’s sense of safety, belonging, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Train students in methods of oral history data collection (e.g., interviewing, recording, transcribing).
  • Train students in methods of creating multimedia public scholarship (e.g., podcasts, mini-documentaries, articles) for scholars, students, and the public.

I am pleased to report that thanks to the support of numerous individuals and research centers, our students built upon the success of this collaboration in order to give numerous panel, roundtable and professional paper presentations at academic conferences, public history programs, and newspaper op-eds. Students have produced digital podcasts that have been aired on national outlets including iTunes and the Oxford University Press’s Oral History Blog. Due to the outstanding collaborative relationship between SPOHP, CGSWSR, and colleagues at the George Smathers’ Libraries, the University of Florida has been named the National Repository of the Women’s March on Washington Archives Project. Students are now using the interviews, photographs, video clips and other data collected by researchers across the country in senior theses, MA projects, dissertations and multimedia formats.

In the fall of 2016, SPOHP also began collaborating with UF Arts in Medicine faculty Jeffrey Pufahl on a theatre performance titled Telling: Gainesville which drew on oral histories to tell the stories of military veterans in war and peace. After Telling: Gainesville played before standing-room only audiences throughout the fall, Jeffrey approached SPOHP with a new, exciting idea: create an interactive stage performance based on our students’ experiences at the March on Washington. Voices From the March was born!

Our students performed Voices from the March for the first time at the UF Social Justice Summit on January 27, 2018 and it received rave reviews. “We weren’t able to catch up with you after the performance of Voices from the March last night,” one parent wrote to me. “However, my daughter and I wanted to tell you how deeply impressed we were by both the play and the underlying commitment and rigor of the students who performed in it. It was thrilling, powerful work and I was moved to tears several times.”

Another parent of a high school student who watched Voices from the March wrote to me that, “I consider last night’s performance a landmark in [my daughter’s] education, really, all the more effective because the play’s calls for compassion, reflection, and justified anger came from the mouths of young people closer to her age and her emerging vision of herself.”

Now, I am asking for your assistance in bringing Voices from the March to a national audience. Your support will make it possible for University of Florida students to bring to life a remarkable experience and moment in American history which has already transformed lives. I will let the students in this feature explain why they believe Voices from the March is a vital endeavor. Thank you in advance for your support, and I look forward to answering any questions you may have. Together, we are stronger!

With Gratitude,

Paul Ortiz,

Director, Samuel Proctor Oral History Program

Associate Professor of History, University of Florida

“Introspection involves critical thinking and to be able to recognize what is good and bad about yourself, you have to look at other people and listen to them and think about that for yourself.” - Ryley Valenti, Student

About Our Fieldwork

Through a novel collaboration between the Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research (CGSWSR) and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP), a team of 17 students were granted the opportunity to conduct oral history research in Washington, DC at the Women’s March on Washington. This march occurred the day after another historical milestone: an inauguration that marked the transition of power from the first African-American U.S. president to a president whose election has heightened a sense of fear and marginalization in diverse segments of the population.

This trip resulted in the collection of over 150 interviews with people with diverse viewpoints and backgrounds at both the Presidential inauguration and the Women’s March. The experience allowed students to (a) observe and learn from the juxtaposition of these two critical historic events, (b) document these events and their impact, and (c) create multimedia products that place these events and their meaning in historical context and bring them to life for scholars, students, and the public in the UF community and beyond.

A year later, SPOHP has teamed with the Center for Arts and Medicine (CAM) to create a performative multimedia presentation about this life-changing experience. Following the narratives of the students who participated on this trip, this piece seeks to highlight the oral history interviews from this varied collection. A group effort between students and staff from SPOHP, CGSWSR, CAM, and College of the Arts, Voices from the March has been performed at the Harn Museum of Art and mainstaged at UF’s second annual Social Justice Summit. This team now has the opportunity to share this powerful work at conferences throughout the country.

“Seeing our fieldwork experience come to life in such a thoughtful way speaks to the dedication of the cast. This show has potential to transform communities who are grappling with social justice issues across the United States.” - Tico Baez, Student

One Big Idea

A Message from the Director of "Voices From the March"

When I first met the students who went to the March, I knew we had to make a play out of their trip. How else could their experience and research be potently and powerfully communicated to their peers and the world? A play was not only the best way for the students to process and define their experience, but it could become a larger platform for audiences to understand the impact of the March through the eyes of those who were there. The dissemination of oral history research through theater is an interactive, embodied approach to scholarship and can facilitate non-confrontational critical dialogue. An emotional experience is like no other; when we engage ourselves fully in the theatrical experience we can both criticize and empathize and we tend to be less reactive and listen more deeply. Our play creates a forum not only for the Women’s March to be publically analyzed and discussed, but for students to experience, understand, and explore their own positionality and intersectional identities within the context of National identities represented and encountered at the March. Diverse audiences are able to connect with alternative narratives and personal stories, which we know can be a potent method of challenging and changing attitudes. This is the power of oral history performance; communities come together in a common experience to explore our shifting identities.

By contributing to this project, you are supporting the students who have challenged themselves to publicly tell their personal stories and be authentic and vulnerable in front of the nation. You’re supporting the amplification of stories from those who have spoken up and spoken out from across the nation, and you are supporting the artistic achievement of our students who have created a lasting, impactful work of theater.

Thank you for your consideration,

Jeffrey Pufahl

About the SOHA Conference

The 2018 Southwestern Oral History Association (SOHA) Conference will be held in southern California the weekend of April 27-29, 2018. From introductory workshops to inspiring plenary addresses and ground breaking documentary films, and now this play, the SOHA annual conference explores the many ways in which oral history, oral traditions, and storytelling help to bridge past, present, and future. SOHA announced that this year’s theme will be Elevating Voices: Oral Histories of Resilience and Unity.

Meet Our Director

Jeffrey Pufahl is a full-time faculty member in the Center for Arts in Medicine at UF. Jeffrey holds an MFA in Theater Performance (University of Cincinnati) and an MFA in Theater Directing (University of Victoria) and has 25 years of professional experience in film and theatre in Canada, the US, and the UK. His work at UF is focused on creating inter-campus and community partnerships to develop theatre based programming that addresses social issues and community health. His research focuses on innovative applications of theatre and video to health, social, and educational content in order to engage the public in critical dialogue.

“Thank you for the trans inclusiveness in this play. I didn’t think I, as a non-binary person, would be represented in the play, and I was – so, thank you.” – Mx Bubblés, Audience Member

The Creative Process

Voices from the March was created through a process of collaborative arts-based research translation. Students explored their own narratives and the interconnectivity between their stories and the oral histories collected at the march. Through discussions and reflection on social issues on local, national, and global levels, students created scenes and monologues which are intended to engage themselves and the public in meaningful dialogue.

On Writing a Play

These students have worked together to catalogue these interviews, evaluate, and translate their own research. They have co-created a unique, multimedia, live-theatre performance which tells their story, as well as sharing and analyzing the multiple, contrasting perspectives collected at the Women’s Marches and the inauguration. This unique glimpse into the diverse range of political, social, and personal viewpoints and experiences gives audience members an up-close and personal look into the fabric of American culture, critical oral history work as activism, women’s movements, and feminist intersectional activism including Black Lives Matter, immigrant rights, and LGBTQ+ rights.

On January 27th, we performed Voice from the March with an expanded cast of eleven for the first time at the closing ceremony of the UF Social Justice Summit in the Reitz Student Union. The full company included several students from the School of Theatre and Dance who played key roles: MFA candidates Brittney Caldwell, Elise Selah and Andrew Prescott, and undergraduate students Marissa Secades, Dahlia Johnson, and Ryley Valenti.

Theater as Activism

The power of art lies in what it provokes inside the viewer. With Voices from the March we sought to engage the pressing social questions of our time, not by supplying answers for these questions, but by illuminating the complex nature of our current political climate. We pose these questions through the intricate weaving of intimate personal narratives and testimony, ultimately hoping to inspire empathy and understanding as a spark for social change.

“I really like that this play gave me the opportunity to feel like I was doing something again - this piece of art has given me the opportunity to feel like I’m taking my stand and I’m saying what I need to say.” – Dahlia Johnson, Student

Meet Our Students

Holland Hall

Holland Hall graduated from the University of Florida magna cum laude in Spring 2016 with a bachelor of arts in History before working at the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida. Holland co-founded the program’s Florida Queer History Project in June 2016, and served as the research coordinator for the program’s Women’s March on Washington Experiential Learning Fieldwork Trip in collaboration with the UF Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research. Holland is currently pursuing an M.Ed./ Ed.S. degree in Mental Health Counseling at the University of Florida, and is a Digital and Public Humanities intern at the George A. Smather’s Libraries at UF.

“Being a part of this process since its inception in November 2016 has been a wonderful experience. From preparing the trip, to being out in the field, participating in the play-writing process, and now bringing this performance to not only the University of Florida community, but to the other side of the United States at the 2018 Southwest Oral History Association conference... this has been an emotional and empowering journey.”

Aliya Miranda

Aliya Miranda is a Telecommunications – Production major at UF and works as SPOHP’s Digital Productions and Outreach Coordinator. Aliya manages SPOHP’s website, and newsletter and coordinates various fundraising initiatives for the program. She also produces a podcast series called Safe Spaces which explores the safe spaces marginalized groups create for themselves and the lengths they go to preserve them. Aliya also produces the SPOHP Radio Hour for WUBA 88.1 FM.

“I think social justice-oriented performance art is incredibly important right now. Not only can it serve to educate an audience about an iconic moment in history like the Women’s March, but it can challenge a community to look critically at their own role in that history. 'Voices from the March,' explores how attending the march challenged us as researchers, and as human beings, in that very same way. Beyond taking audience members to demonstrations like these, performance art is an invaluable platform for sharing this experience.”

Elisabeth Rios-Brooks

Elisabeth Rios-Brooks is a second-year UF Anthropology and International Studies major with a focus on Africa. Her involvement at UF has consisted of a myriad of leadership positions related to African studies, her most noteworthy being Showcase Director for the African Student Union. Elisabeth is also a University Scholar currently conducting fieldwork on African American Vernacular English at UF. Elisabeth is a passionate social justice advocate and participated in The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program's Oral History and Performance internship.

“Throughout this process, I feel as though I have learned how, as a college student at UF, I can use my voice. Even more so, that my voice is valid and valuable and needed. Now I see that there are so many ways to get involved in my community, and that as a single individual I can make a change by engaging with oral histories, attending marches, and simply putting myself and my thoughts out there through projects like this.”

Zachary Brown

Zachary Brown is a History and English major at the University of Florida focusing on the history of media in the United States. Currently, he is writing his thesis on media watchdogs during the 1980s and 1990s, and how they have shaped modern political discourse. Zachary is also a University Scholar, conducting research on American film as a method for expanding empire—specifically in the Pacific Islands. Through an internship with the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Zach became involved in pursuing social justice, helping to co-write Voices from the March.

“Through SPOHP, and, ‘Voices from the March,’ I have learned how to use my voice and privilege to help elevate the voices of others. Going to SOHA to perform this play is incredibly important to spread the feeling of solidarity and strength that the play has given me. Through this work I was able to find a way to connect with others and effectively convey the goals of social justice. This entire experience has solidified my role as an agent of change.”

Alexander Herrera

Xander Herrera is an International Studies major with a concentration in Latin America and the Caribbean. He has been involved with SPOHP as an intern learning how to use oral history methods as a tool for social justice, particularly while being involved in this project. He hopes to attend grad school to study international human rights law and then work with NGOs and inter-governmental organizations combating social justice issues.

“Creating something from scratch and seeing it grow into something like this is extremely rewarding. I’ve realized that this play is a lot bigger than us, it’s about the voices of the incredible people who decided that the country we all aspire for is worth fighting for. It’s incredible to see how we can use oral history performance as a catalyst for social justice and driving social movements.”

Budget Breakdown


11 Student RT MCO-LAX = $ 3867.41

1 faculty RT MCO-LAX= $ 283.59

Total Airfare: $ 4151.08

Ground Transportation

Apr 25: 15 Pax van: $ 66.10

Apr 26: Karmel - 2 x 9 pax vans: $ 249.00

Apr. 29: Fullerton to LAX - Lotus - 12 Pax: $ 218.67

Apr 29 2 X 7 Pax Van @ $46.86: $ 93.72

Estimated Fuel: $ 100

Total Transportation: $ 627.49​

Conference Registrations

11 Student Registrations - @ $85: $ 935

1 faculty conference registration: $ 175

Total Registrations: $ 1110

Accommodations at Conference Hotel

6 Rooms (Apr. 26-29): $ 2578.50

Grand Total Expenses: $ 8467.07

Help us reach our fundraising goal below!

“Not only was Voices from the March an insightful, unique theatrical experience, but...it was a piece of activism itself. The diverse cast, the colorful language in each scene and the brilliant use of multilayered narratives used to tell the powerful story of First Amendment rights (and so much more) in America makes this piece one of both introspection and empowerment for the audience.” – Student

Contact Us

Dr. Paul Ortíz, Program Director


SPOHP Office Manager Tamarra Jenkins


Jefferey Pufahl


The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program

241 Pugh Hall, P.O. Box 115215

The University of Florida

Gainesville, FL 32611

Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Phone: (352) 392-7168

Fax: (352) 846-1983

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.