The H.E.A.T. Collective was founded by Artistic Director Jessica Litwak to create, advocate and inspire artistic expression rooted in healing, education, activism, and theatre. We work to build collectives in every context: in our performances, workshops and community events. Engaging artists across the world, we aim for powerful bridge building art of courageous generosity. In this series, guest experts will write a piece representing each letter of H.E.A.T. - week one will be healing, week two is education, week three is activism, and the last week of the month is theatre. Together these pieces will highlight the work that is being done across all aspects of The H.E.A.T. Collective in the hopes that we can ignite dialogue, spark further exploration, and encourage more people to get involved.
On November 9, 2016, I got on the phone with Jessica Litwak. We had been friends and artistic collaborators since 2000, and found ourselves naturally and immediately reaching out to one another the day after the election. We didn’t spend much time talking about the election or its results, but rather went directly to WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?
With Jessica in New York and I in Los Angeles, we devised a plan that involved bringing artists together in our respective cities, thereby inspiring a place that invited people to share their feelings while simultaneously asking for everyone to RISE UP and do what we do: create ART.
Artists RISE Up Los Angeles (ARULA) and Artists RISE Up New York (ARUNY) were born on that initial phone call between Jessica and me, and our roll-out of each group’s mission and vision quickly unfolded.
Artists on both coasts were asking, “What can I do?” “How can I help?”
People were shocked and ready to do whatever they could to express not only their feelings through their creativity, but to figure out a way forward. In Los Angeles, we welcomed over fifty artists to our first meeting, and we have grown to over two hundred and fifty ARULA contributors today.
The mission of ARULA: We are a group of artists dedicated to positive and revolutionary change in response to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Using our unique and diverse artistic voices, we create original theatre and art, and donate all proceeds from our events to charitable organizations dedicated to bringing social justice to the world.
To date, ARULA has produced and presented five events – E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many, One (a large-scale over-sold-out evening of original scenes, monologues, songs, dance and music at the 400+ seat El Portal Theatre, including a piece by Broadway’s Hamilton choreographer), Transparency, Taxes & Tweets (all music & comedy, featuring the Liberal Redneck Trae Crowder), ARULA Short Film Festival (politically-themed films), American Spring (original spoken word event), and MixTape (inspiring cabaret show with LA’s finest). ARULA has donated proceeds to East LA Women’s Center, School on Wheels, Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood, ACLU, NARAL Pro Choice, HRC, Natural Resources Defense Council, and CAIR.
ARULA also holds Rise & Shine, monthly meetings at the Atwater Village Theatre, where artists come together for coffee, donuts and creative communion. On November 3, 2018, ARULA will host Artists RISE Up From The Dead & Other Scary Stories, at 11am (also at AVT), a free event. In 2019, ARULA will offer three events, including cabaret, film festival, and one TBD.
I am often asked how long ARULA will be around. My answer: as long as it takes.
The ARULA creative producing team is Heidi Godt, Sue Hamilton, Jenn Liu, Noel Orput, Jose Restrepo, Chad Singleton and Enrico Villanueva. @artistsriseupla, FB ArtistsRiseUpLosAngeles, IG artistsriseupla, artistsriseupla.com.
Sue Hamilton is the founding executive producer/artistic director of Artists RISE UP Los Angeles. She’s the creative director for ABC Television’s LA Talent Showcase, and owns Sue Hamilton Studio. As a director and master acting teacher, she teaches the craft and business of acting to dedicated actors, including the 2018 Emmy-nominated Kelly Jenrette and Melvin Jackson, Jr. Hamilton was creative/show director for Walt Disney Parks Live Entertainment and Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment for ten years. She is the former producing artistic director for the Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center, where she directed over twenty productions, including the award-winning Secret Agents and Victory Dance, both written by Jessica Litwak. Hamilton directs live shows and events for Shanghai Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland and the Disneyland Resort, and teaches acting and performance at SHDR. She gave the keynote address at the Educational Theatre Association’s National Conference in September 2018, where she shared her mission and vision of Have Fun Or Quit!