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Palefsky Collision Project Alumni

Summer 2021 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Palefsky Collision Project. Over the past two decades, we’ve collaborated with nearly 400 teenagers transitioning from high school to adulthood. To celebrate this milestone, we’ve connected with past Collisioners (alumni) to illustrate the profound impact this program has on young adults’ lives.

Amy Drolet, 2001

My family was in the audience, including someone very special who is no longer with us: my uncle, Jimmy. He was visiting from Kentucky and I was especially nervous to perform in front of him. When I heard his full-belly laughter, I heard it over the entire audience. I'd never made him laugh like that before, and I hadn't known until then how much it meant to me. That moment remains one of the proudest of my life.

Keiko Green, 2003

There is a confidence in youth that I often look back on -- this time when a huge regional theatre supported me and gave me resources and told me they were interested in what I had to say. I remember performing. I remember how proud I was to feel some kind of "ownership" of the performance space and how the rehearsal space began to feel like home.

Beth Crowley, 2006

For me, the people were what really made The Collision Project so special. Rosemary brought a positive light and energy that made you want to give nothing less than one hundred percent. I also got to work with an amazing group of peers, many of whom I am still connected with through social media.

Daniela Estrada, 2006

I remember being on the stage with Oyamo and I was dancing as he played the drums. It was such a wonderful experience. I had a bit of solo performance, and I am so thankful for this opportunity! (Thanks, Rosemary Newcott)

Leah Kuenzi, 2008

The text that we worked with demanded a kind of brutal honesty and boldness. I had always been someone who shied away from discomfort and differing opinions, and I remember Collision Project as being the first time that someone (our teaching artist) suggested that all of us lean into that discomfort to find out what was on the other side of it.

Lina Ramirez, 2008

I never thought of myself as a creator or writer and being a part of the Collision Project opened up my eyes to what I really wanted to do in my life. It also allowed me to open up my shell and meet people form all walks of life.

Kayla Sklar, 2008

I think a lot of times when you're a teen and you find yourself in a new environment, you end up trying to "play it cool" and feel out the situation before really engaging. But because we immediately grappled with topics of race, gender, and class, we all bonded right off the bat.

Chandler Converse, 2009

We utilized contact improv to create shapes, to physicalize memories, reflections. I don't know how, but I have a distinct memory of us ending up in the shape of a tree. What made this moment so unforgettable wasn't the shape itself. It was how we could reflect on our differences, economically, socially, racially and utilize those differences to create work, new work that reflected us, not what others wanted. We could all be branches of the same tree.

Mallory Nonnemaker, 2009

The Collision Project completely changed the way I looked at theatre as a collaborative art form. I had been a stage manager in college and was influenced by the ways we worked from one text or idea to create something new. Rosemary’s style of directing and community building taught me how to create and sustain a supportive environment.

Loren Wilson, 2009

One of the many skills I developed during the Collision Project was giving and receiving notes on my work. Sometimes art can appear like an individual undertaking, but in actuality, it’s a great collaboration. Everyone wants to see your work turn into the best that it can be. Together, you work towards this goal by lifting each other up through giving and receiving constructive notes.

Ashley Dickey, 2010

I'm actually working with the Alliance now! I'm a staff production assistant. I love running shows and being a part of all the elements coming together to form what we see on stage. I have learned so much and am still working towards the future.

Sean Law, 2010

Participating in the Collision Project inspired me to crave collaboration with my art and music, as I learned the importance and value of the minds and skills of others. I've also carried this with me through other aspects of my life. This idea of togetherness, collaboration--it's so important. While we may be great alone, together, we are better. Not just in art, but in life. We humans have made it this far because we work together. We need each other, whether we want to or not. Collision was more than just an artistic journey for me. It was also a spiritual one, and has inspired me in countless ways over the past decade.

Laetitia Butler, 2011

My fondest memories from Collision are the Soul Train lines when coming back from lunch - best way to release a burst of energy and get back into the headspace of teamwork, collaboration, and improvisation.

Jacklyn Joy Byrd, 2011

Collision gave me the ability to network and get comfortable with practically anyone. The ability to ride MARTA like a pro. The ability to blend in, be invisible, stand out, and to step away. I have memories of moments of being the center of attention as well as choreographing a flashmob that the other participants performed at lunch. I remember watching them lovingly perform.

Aryee Amorette, 2012

I believe this program instilled confidence in me and my abilities. It showed me the importance of being authentic to yourself. It emphasizes the gravity of being honest and true in every aspect of life. I believe these skills and tools have enabled me to be a brave world traveler and to work hard to succeed.

Malik Gill, 2012

The biggest takeaway from Collision was a quote from Director Patrick McColery. He advised me to "fill the space." I take that approach with me everywhere I go, and it has helped to define not only my presence but my purpose.

Andie Weaver, 2012

Collision taught me to listen and to pay attention to the talent of those around me. It taught me that art (or any collaborative process) is much bigger than just what you see in your head. Learning to appreciate those around me has been a huge help in both my career and my interpersonal relationships.

Serena Gleklen, 2013

In a quieter moment in the black box... only a few were lingering, [and] we all held our flowers up to the lights and yelled SPLAT - a piece of our time with Mama YeYe, a call of love. [It was a totally] uncoordinated, spontaneous moment of togetherness at the end of the project.

Brianna Green-Horton, 2013

Collision is all about the family teamwork, everyone had to show up on time, be present and give 100% in order for us to have successful performance. Collision also taught me that I am responsible for what I bring to the table. Being an accountable team player is an important part of being on the team.

Lucy Brooks, 2014

Collision taught me that all art is political. Art is not made in a vacuum of "art for art's sake" but instead is political because of its existence.

Chelsea Jackson, 2014

I attended Emory University as a Simon Scholar, became a 2017 Simon scholar and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc, graduated with a BA/MA in political science in 2018. I moved to England as a Rhodes scholar in September 2018 and studied criminology and public policy at the University of Oxford.

Autumn Stephens, 2015

My development would be in my voice. Not only getting over the nerves of singing in front of others, but also the development of knowing that my voice matters. I know that I matter and I shouldn’t undermine what I want to say.

Dequadray White, 2015

My fondest memory was the interconnectedness felt when we touched the stage. We became one. I was too young to notice that rehearsals were my safe space. I felt strong being vulnerable.

Matthew Brown, 2016

After Collision, I went to my university and helped in completely rebuilding the theater department and bringing in more diverse pieces to install love and joy instead of trauma in the arts.

Caroline Caden, 2017

The fondest memory I have from the 2017 Collision Project is performing for Civil Rights activist, John Lewis, and getting to hug him after weeks of creating this play based on all he went through. The energy in the room was unmatched!

Laila Henderson, 2017

The Collision Project gave me hope. I’d forgotten the true power of my dreams, and I’d forgotten how to hold on to hope. Collision taught me that every day that we are alive and trying, we take one step towards victory and joy. You can make it out of your darkest times if you continue to hold your dreams and values close to your heart. Collision taught me to never stop pushing forward, no matter what that may look like.

Camryn Mullin, 2017

I gained the confidence to do what I love without hesitation. This experience also gave me the knowledge and affirmation to fight for what's right.

Rachael Simpson, 2017

My focus is storytelling across many media platforms. I won a grant to produced my original play in 2018 with my friend Justin Hall, who I met in collision. I’ve produced a numerous of video journalism pieces on activism & black artistry within the Athens area.

Isabella (Issa) Solís, 2017

My fondest memory of Collision is the surprise of having John Lewis visit us during our rehearsal and watch the show later that evening. It's a blessing having met a hero in real life.

Jemarcus Kilgore, 2018

I learned to trust my ensemble, not just on a stage or on a set, but in life. Trusting my team and the people I choose to surround myself with, has lead me to become a stronger actor and a better person.

Janine Leslie, 2018

Our performance wasn’t polished or extensively rehearsed but it was raw, real, and important. Collision taught me that my voice matters, and that type of encouragement is incredibly important when you’re 16 and consistently told that your opinions aren’t worthwhile.

Serenity S’rae, 2018

Collision invited us to experience our town, Atlanta, for ourselves and then be able to write and devise our own words and our own stories. That experience taught me to have ownership of my words, experiences, and art I make. I am forever thankful for the community I got out of this project.

Antonio Toussaint, 2018

The Collision Project helped me with my confidence as an artist. In an environment so supportive, it feels okay to make mistakes and accept them in your journey to better artistry. Having done so, I have gained the confidence to cultivate a career for myself that isn't anchored by fear of over-ambitiousness but rather driven by endless possibility.

Lauryn Charliah, 2019

I learned that the world is only going to get better if I and others begin to use our own tools to better it. I learned that everyone is the same, in which, we are all just trying to decipher the meaning to this world of clues, within ourselves and others. I learned how to better observe and feel how other people feel.

Arden Forrand, 2019

The most significant memory that I remember from Collision was our day with Lauri Stallings and the entire glo ATL team. I vividly remember the beginning of our workshop when all of us were looking around like, "What is happening?". We were all incredibly thrown out of our comfort zone. There were uncomfortable laughs and a few trips, but by the end we were all seamlessly working with one another.

Sara Francis, 2019

The Collision Project requires a lot of teamwork and interaction, being a better listener and learning how to incorporate others ideas. Collision helped me feel more comfortable participating with everyone and more confident in myself and my abilities.

Geordyn Marks, 2019

I can honestly say that Collision allowed me to feel safe enough to be honest with myself. This project really helped me to not hide as much from myself.

Ayat Salameh, 2019

I moved to a new city and new school. I’m excited to graduate from high school next year. I want to go to Georgia Gwinett College and major in nursing.

Lance Avery Brown, 2020

We were one of the first to attack virtual theatre and just everything surrounding it. The bonds I created were definitely memorable...we all felt the same about the process so we clicked really well.

Léa Fournier, 2020

The Alliance Theatre Collision Project prepared me for college by strengthening my collaboration skills and pushing me out of my comfort zone. At the end of those three weeks, I left with a stronger sense of who I was.

Ari Isenberg, 2020

I worked with a group of people, who I barely knew, virtually. Since I have been taking my classes online from home this whole year, it was a good experience to have over the summer before school started.

Keith Kearney-Pelsey, 2020

My fondest memory of participating in the Collision Project was showing off my talents with my peers. I developed the skills of creative writing. I have been making stories of my own during my personal time.

Linda Oglesby, 2020

My fondest memories from collision are the moments when Mrs. Pearl Cleage would just speak. I would cling to every sentence! I had my notebook beside me, ready to write down the gems that came from her mouth. And it made me smile the biggest when she complimented my Afro EVERY morning on zoom.

Fiona Tagami, 2020

Since our collision happened in 2020 during the pandemic, our entire project was online. My fondest memory was collaborating and making great friends with everyone online and feeling really connected to everyone, despite not ever seeing them in person.

Anna Zheng, 2020

Collision was such a confidence boost when I most needed one and has definitely given me the guts to consider myself as an artist and to reach for further opportunities in writing, music, and theatre. Moreover, I got to see where people my age could be. When I am struggling artistically, I still aspire to be a bit more like my various cast mates.