ATLANTA, July 13, 2021 — The Alliance Theatre has assembled a diverse group of 20 students from metro Atlanta for the 20th Palefsky Collision Project, an annual program that gives high-school students a platform to tackle important social issues.  Guided by the Alliance’s Distinguished Playwright in Residence Pearl Cleage, director Patrick McColery, and associate director Rodney Williams, participants are encouraged to find and claim their own voices within a judgment free zone of creativity and community. This innovative program challenges metro Atlanta teens to “collide” with a classic text and make it their own.  This year’s ensemble will collide with Marvin Gaye’s album, What’s Going On?, to explore themes of racial injustice and inner-city America, how the Vietnam War impacted Gaye’s album, and environment and climate change.

“One of the things we do every summer is offer our participants an approach to thinking,” says Pearl Cleage, who is leading her 11th Collision Project. “We don’t tell them what to think. We show them a way of thinking that hopefully enlarges their understanding of context and gives them a greater appreciation of the interconnectedness of ideas in the process of creative expression.”

Cleage adds: “For our 20th Anniversary summer, we have chosen our first all musical text. On its 50th anniversary this year, Rolling Stone Magazine named What’s Going On? the best album of all time. Wherever you would rank it among your personal favorites, the album has undeniable cultural and artistic significance, and it lends itself to a better understanding of context, one of the hallmarks of the Collision method.”

About the 20th Anniversary of the Palefsky Collision Project, Cleage says, “In the last ten years, we’ve explored plays, novels, films, speeches, and our country’s founding documents. In the process, we’ve had the blessing of listening to the dreams and visions of the next generation of theatre makers; world changing young citizen artists, who amaze and exhaust and transform us every single time. Sustained by a generous endowment from Vicki and Howard Palefsky, [Artistic Director] Susan Booth’s dreams of a program that would challenge and change Atlanta teens has now ‘graduated’ over 400 young people who have seen their power manifested and magnified by their Collision experiences in a way that they usually can’t describe any better than we can, even after all these years. But we keep trying.”


Through improvisational exercises, oral history, choreography, the individual performing talents they possess, and their writing, the teenagers create a new piece inspired by the classic text but perceived through their own unique and contemporary prism. Over the three-week intensive, the students will have the opportunity work with guest artists as they shape their new performance piece.  Guest artists include Mama Yeye and Baba Tony, Anne Towns, Lauri Stallings and glo, Eugene H. Russell, IV, Rosemary Newcott, and more.  The Palefsky Collision Project affords teens a unique theatrical experience and gives them ownership of a performance at the Alliance. It also gives the students validity – confidence in their talents, strength for the future, and power in their decisions. The wholly original piece that the participants will write and shape together is guaranteed to inspire audiences at the two free performances these young artists will offer on July 30 & 31. Plus, for the first time and to honor the 20th anniversary, the performance will take place on the Alliance’s award-winning Coca-Cola Stage. 

The Alliance hosts open interviews each year, calling for students “who have something to say and the desire to say it.”  The ensemble of the Palefsky Collision Project is made up of actors, singers, dancers,  

writers, directors, and techies.  Any high school student, regardless of experience, is invited to interview to become a part of this project. 

This experience is free to all participants through generous support from Vicky and Howard Palefsky, AT&T, The Coca-Cola Company, Georgia-Pacific, the Zeist Foundation, and Theatre Forward, and the support of the Mellon Foundation’s National Playwright Residency Program administered in partnership with Howlround.


·         WHEN:  

o    Friday, July 30, 7:00 p.m. 

o    Saturday, July 31, 2:30 p.m. 

·         WHERE:  

o    Coca-Cola Stage at the Woodruff Arts Center: 1280 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309 

·         RSVP for free tickets: 

·         For additional information on the Palefsky Collision Project, email  

·         Please note that masks will be required for both performances on the Coca-Cola Stage


·         Abigail K.

·         Alexander L.

·         Ariana J.

·         Brendan W.

·         Chloe L.

·         Da’Quan C.

·         Daniel N.

·         Destiny J.

·         Isabella C.

·         Ja’Siah Y.

·         Jessica A.

·         Joshua M.

·         N’Legend B.

·         Olivia B.

·         Solari R.

·         Sophie L.

·         Taloria M.

·         Varun K.

·         Xavier D.

·         Zariyah A.


·         DeKalb School of the Arts

·         Pope High School

·         The Galloway School

·         Woodward Academy

·         Luella High School

·         Union Grove High School

·         Brookwood High School

·         Westlake High School

·         Tri-Cities High School

·         Mill Creek High School

·         Southwest DeKalb High School

·         The Paideia School

·         Brookwood High School

·         Alpharetta High School

·         Homeschool

·         Martha Stilwell School of the Arts



Founded in 1968, the Alliance Theatre is the leading producing theater in the Southeast, reaching more than 165,000 patrons annually.  Under the leadership of Susan V. Booth, Jennings Hertz Artistic Director, the Alliance received the Regional Theatre Tony Award® for sustained excellence in programming, education, and community engagement.  In January 2019, the Alliance will open its new, state-of-the-art performance space, The Coca-Cola Stage at Alliance Theatre.  Known for its high artistic standards and national role in creating significant theatrical works, the Alliance has premiered more than 110 productions including nine that have transferred to Broadway.  The Alliance education department reaches 90,000 students annually through performances, classes, camps, and in-school initiatives designed to support teachers and enhance student learning.  The Alliance Theatre values community, curiosity, collaboration, and excellence, and is dedicated to representing Atlanta’s diverse community with the stories we tell, the artists, staff, and leadership we employ, and audiences we serve.

Our Mission

Expanding hearts and minds on stage and off. 

Our Vision

Making Atlanta more connected, curious, and compassionate through theatre and arts education.

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