With membership capped at a comfortable eight students, the Men of Strength faith group is exactly where it wants to be. Initiated two years ago by then-Masters of Divinity student and Gender Relations Center (GRC) intern Brian Vassel, Men of Strength aims to connect sexuality with the faith lives of college men.Concerned for the future of the group, Vassel handed leadership over to second-year Masters of Divinity student Tom Robertson when he finished his own course of study. “As he was leaving he thought the program would die out if he just left … so he asked me to sit in on a couple of sessions at the end of the year and asked me if I was interested in taking over,” Robertson said.The group, which meets on a weekly basis, focuses on issues facing college men, from pornography to relationships, and relates them back to their spirituality.“Integration is a big thing here,” Robertson said. “We look at integrating faith in all areas of life and specifically with sexuality.”Robertson said he does not conduct the group’s meetings with a set lesson plan or theme. “I really deal mostly with the personal struggles of the guys. There’s no agenda that I’m coming in with,” he said. “I have my own personal politics but I try to leave that at the door.”Robertson said having a support group specifically for college-aged men is useful especially because this time of transition can be difficult.“It’s a time when you’re growing from the faith of your adolescence when generally you accept what you’re taught and you follow the rules … to a period of questioning that and struggling it and maybe challenging it a little bit,” Robertson said. “You have new experiences that make you question what you were told growing up.”Robertson said this semester several of the group members are in relationships, so they decided to address the faith component of relationships — from marriage to ordination to single life.“Single life is defined by what it’s not — you’re not married and you’re not a priest or a nun,” he said. “We are looking at some helpful way to define this transition.”The group’s small size, Robertson said, is part of its appeal to members.“There’s a level of trust … and it’s a pretty self-selective group,” he said. “The men who come are intentional about sharing. They sought me out.”Robertson led two separate groups of five students each last semester and said he would consider doing the same this year if more students expressed interest.Although Men of Strength and another GRC-sponsored group, Men Against Violence, exist, Robertson said he knows of no such group that exists yet for Notre Dame women. Scheduled to be married this summer in his native Winnipeg, Robertson said after next year, his last year in the Master’s of Divinity program, he plans to hand off the group to someone else before returning back to Canada.“I probably will be looking for a first or second year [Master’s of Divinity] student to hand the group over to,” he said. “I really have tried to keep a paper trail of what’s worked and what hasn’t.”The name of the group comes from the passage in 2 Corinthians 12:10, which reads: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Student Senate passed a resolution requesting the University approve an application for a gay-straight alliance (GSA) on Wednesday. The resolution also requested the University offer a public statement explaining its decision on the application. Twenty-one members of Senate voted to approve the resolution and two members abstained from voting. Junior Katie Rose, gender issues director for student government and vice president-elect, said student government’s records show the possibility of an official gay-straight alliance has been discussed since at least 1989. Senate entered into closed, executive session for much of its discussion about the resolution. When public discussion resumed, student body vice president and president-elect Brett Rocheleau, a junior, clarified the position of the Office of Student Affairs on the recognition of a GSA. “They believe that with [the Core Council for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Questioning Students], the pastoral counsel that comes with these questions [of sexuality] is needed,” Rocheleau said. “With a peer-to-peer advocate, they are afraid that this need of the counseling won’t be as well met.” Morrissey Hall senator and sophomore Cal Belden said if Core Council were the only resource needed by students that identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT), more students would utilize it. Sophomore Gaby Nunez, Cavanaugh Hall senator, said Student Affairs might not understand the value of peer-to-peer interaction. “In a situation like a gay-straight alliance, if you have a gay student who has come out mentoring a questioning student through the experience, that might be more effective because the student has been there,” she said. Tom Lienhoop, a Core Council member and sophomore, said a GSA would augment Core Council’s work. “There’s so much value in having a peer-to-peer organization that is recognized at the University,” he said. “Without speaking on behalf of other Core Council members, that is something that has been expressed before — the fact that a GSA would be a benefit regardless of what Core is already doing.” Student body president and senior Pat McCormick said the effort to request the recognition of a GSA is not a criticism of the Student Activities Office (SAO), but rather, an attempt to engage in dialogue. “I think that as an administration we are also seeking to advance that spirit of inclusion,” McCormick said. “I think the hope of the resolution is that sense that we can do more on this issue, that we can include more fully, and that this resolution isn’t an attempt to criticize the attempts that have already been made, but an attempt to move them forward.” Rocheleau said the next step is to promote collaboration between SAO and students that file an application to create a GSA. Senior Joanna Whitfield, vice president of the Progressive Student Alliance, said after the meeting she was glad Senate took time to discuss the resolution and the effects it would have on the student body. “I think that this resolution affirms that Notre Dame really is inclusive to all its students,” Whitfield said. “Students really want to further inclusion and they really want to help out GLBT students on this campus … We’re also really happy that it’s the Student Senate, so it does show that the students really do support this movement.” In addition to approving the GSA proposal, Senate also approved junior Alexa Shaw as the next student union treasurer and passed two other resolutions. One resolution changed the transition date for Student Union Board positions from April 1 to May 1, effective this spring. The other resolution imposed restrictions to maintain the balance of the “carry-forward” financial account that exists as a source of emergency funding for student government.
Observer File Photo Matt Dooley, a senior tennis player, detailed his life as a gay athlete at Notre Dame in an article published Monday on Outsports.com.Coming outOn Sept. 16, 2011, Dooley tried to take his own life. As he wrote in his article, “that day I wanted nothing more than to escape the anguish of coming out to my family, my friends and, in a way, myself.”Dooley talks now about internalized homophobia, about not liking yourself, about a fear of society and fears of abandonment and worthlessness.“When you’re dealing with something like depression or intense fear like that from a social stigma, it really does interfere with every aspect of your life,” he said.His tennis game suffered. He couldn’t memorize things well in class. His mind wandered out of worry and fear when he listened to lectures.Dooley, though, was able to find “a better place, and then acceptance came.” He came out to his parents in July 2012, following his sophomore year. He then came out to teammate Greg Andrews at the beginning of his junior year.“I was surprised,” Andrews said. “I wasn’t really expecting that when he did tell me, but like Matt mentioned in the article, I was just like, ‘Wow, I’m surprised, but I don’t care at all. You’re still one of my friends, and you’re still the same Dooley to me, and it doesn’t matter at all.’”Dooley then came out to his coaches in early September and the rest of the team in mid-September. The team’s reaction?“Support. It was 110 percent support,” Irish head coach Ryan Sachire said. “I can honestly tell you since that point in time, there’s not been one awkward moment. There’s not one issue within our squad. It’s just simply been something [like], okay, this is a part of who Matt is. We love Matt. We care for Matt. He’s a great teammate of ours and a great friend of our players and it’s who he is and we love him and respect him for it and we’re going to move on and be a great team.”Dooley said he wasn’t too worried about coming out to his teammates.“I expected it to be positive, but you kind of get a hard shell after a while,” Dooley said. “There’s obviously the few that I was worried about. But I also knew that if there’s a room of 15 guys and two or three were negative, they’d get squashed immediately. So I wasn’t that worried. And like I said, all 15 were 100 percent with me.”Dooley said the support he received from his team and family has been crucial to him in taking the next step to come out publicly Monday.“I guess the one thing I’d tell any student-athlete is just make sure you’re doing as much as you can to allow yourself to be happy,” Dooley said. “You’re not alone. There are other people struggling with it, too. Worst comes to worst, you’re still not alone. And that is the biggest fear. So, one, just take care of yourself. Make sure you’re not holding yourself back. That’s the biggest thing. And two, you’re not alone. No matter what it is, no matter how bad things go.” Matt Dooley returned to campus around 2 a.m. Monday after the Irish lost to Virginia on Sunday in Charlottesville, Va.A second-semester senior, Dooley is taking six credits, and he doesn’t have class on Mondays until 12:30 p.m. So he set his alarm for 11 a.m.“I woke up at like 10:30 to my phone going nuts,” Dooley said.Dooley wrote an article on Outsports.com that detailed his life as a gay athlete at Notre Dame. In the article, Dooley said he attempted suicide in 2011 because “death was better than accepting — or revealing — that I was gay.” In September, two years after attempting suicide, Dooley came out to his teammates. A few months later, Dooley became ready to go public with his story.The original piece on Outsports.com had been tweeted more than 550 times and shared on Facebook more than 5,600 times as of Wednesday afternoon. Dooley said since that 10:30 a.m. wake-up call, “it’s been 24-7,” receiving countless phone calls, texts, tweets, emails and more.“So far it’s been all positive. I’m still waiting for that first negative,” Dooley said of the reaction he’s received. “We’ve gotten emails saying we’ve already saved people’s lives, which has been great.“I’m not a Twitter guy, and it blew my mind how fast every aspect of my life could be reached in one second, because I was getting calls and texts from people I went to high school [with], people I played tennis with, people from all over the country. D-I tennis programs all over, people text me, ‘Do you mind if I share this with my team? It’s such a powerful message.’ It’s like, how did you know about this already? Wow. It was published an hour-and-a-half ago. So it’s been wild. Obviously hectic is probably saying it lightly.”Dooley said he decided to write his piece to tell people in similar situations to his in 2011 (and before) that they’re not alone and to be visible in the public sphere as a “factor of legitimacy” to the You Can Play initiative in the works at Notre Dame. In tandem with the Student Welfare and Development office in the athletic department, Dooley has been working with You Can Play, an organization that works to fight homophobia in sports.“Our current student-athletes and prospective student-athletes could look at it and say, ‘Well, I could feel at home at this university,’” Dooley said. “So that’s been the main goal of that.”He said once he was ready to share his story, he wanted to do so as quickly as possible before he was through as a student-athlete, before someone could ask why he didn’t do anything while he was in school playing. Helping othersOnce Dooley told his teammates and Sachire he was going to get involved with helping others, Sachire and Dooley went to senior associate athletic director Mike Harrity, who serves as associate athletics director for student-athlete development and community programming. Dooley has since worked closely with Student Welfare and Development program coordinator Ally Stanton, who has been the office’s main contact with You Can Play.You Can Play was launched in 2012. One of its co-founders, Patrick Burke, is a 2006 Notre Dame graduate. Burke’s brother, Brendan, who was a student manager of the Miami (Ohio) hockey team, died in a car crash in February 2010, a few months after he publicly came out as gay. Patrick, who says You Can Play “is our tribute to [Brendan],” is also the Director of Player Safety for the National Hockey League (NHL). You Can Play is an official partner of the NHL and Major League Soccer. The organization has also done extensive work with Major League Baseball and the National Football League, among others.In the collegiate world, You Can Play has done different on-campus presentations at dozens of schools, and it has a video project in which schools can send in their own ‘You Can Play’ videos. Burke said once Stanton got in touch with him in late 2013, You Can Play began planning its Notre Dame initiatives. One of those initiatives is getting Irish student-athletes to participate in a video “to show their support for LGBT athletes,” Burke said.“Our videos are pretty simple,” Burke said. “Our motto is ‘If you can play, you can play.’ If you’re good enough to help a team win, then your sexual orientation doesn’t matter. So whether it’s tennis, whether it’s softball, whether it’s fencing, whether it’s football, if you’re a contributing athlete, then who you love off the field, ice, court, whatever, doesn’t matter.“It’s a very easy way for athletes to get involved and just say, ‘Yeah, I went to Notre Dame because I want to win championships. If the person next to me can help me win a championship, that’s all that matters.’”Burke said they’re also working through the logistics of an on-campus presentation — either in late summer or early fall, if not in the spring — in which You Can Play will address as many athletes as possible.“They’re called invisible athlete forums, and we bring in LGBT athletes to speak about their experiences in a locker room where a closeted athlete often feels invisible,” Burke said.Burke said he is not surprised at the initiatives in the works at Notre Dame.“Nothing we do contradicts Catholic teaching,” Burke said. “Our message is simply that you should treat other people with respect and dignity. And that’s lifted directly out of the Catechism [of the Catholic Church].”Burke said in the first couple months of You Can Play’s launch, the organization received a letter from a canonical lawyer, a priest whose job is to study canon law for the Church, who said You Can Play’s mission statement falls directly in line with Catholic teaching on homosexuality.“Everything we do, everything we preach — take care of each other, show each other love and respect — that’s all exactly in line with the Catholic teaching,” Burke said. “So when people ask us, ‘Are you surprised that a school like Notre Dame would support a gay athlete?’, I’m happy. It’s come a long way since when I was there. I know that. It’s only been eight years now, but I can tell for a fact that a lot has changed since I left.“But I don’t think it’s surprising anymore. The vast majority of Notre Dame students are supportive of their LGBT classmates. … I’m proud of Notre Dame for getting behind this, for getting behind Matt. I’m happy that they’re behind it. But I don’t know if ‘surprise’ is the word that I’d choose. I think that would sell Notre Dame short if I said I was surprised that they rallied to support one of their students.”And that student, in turn, hopes to change things for other students. Before heading to the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, where Dooley will continue his studies (he has been exposed mostly to orthopedic surgery and internal medicine but is keeping an open mind), he wanted to embark on the You Can Play initiative “so that it can do its most beneficial work for anybody that needs it.”“Going back to the roots of You Can Play, it’s all respect and not politics,” Dooley said. “You don’t have to agree with someone’s sexual orientation, but it doesn’t have to do with that. It doesn’t have to do with your sexual orientation, your gender, your race. It’s all about just respecting your teammates and your peers.“Everyone can get behind that.”Sports writer Mary Green contributed to this story.Tags: Matt Dooley, Patrick Burke, Student Welfare and Development, You Can Play
This year, the Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS) program at Saint Mary’s is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Department chair Stacy Davis said the program officially began in September of 1985 as a minor only.“Classes in women’s studies had been offered since 1972,” Davis said. “We started teaching an introductory course in 1994, and we had student-designed majors from the mid-1990s until 2013. This is our first year as a department with a major, so the 30th anniversary is a celebration of that accomplishment.”Davis said the GWS program has a strong presence throughout the Saint Mary’s curriculum.“The major would not have happened without the support of our faculty, who teach courses in over a dozen departments and programs that count for GWS,” Davis said. “Currently, we have five majors and 14 students will graduate with a minor in GWS this spring.”Sophomore GWS major Michaela Gaughan said the program is important because it sheds light on important issues related to gender on a global scale.“I think it is important for colleges to have GWS programs because they promote gender differences, create an understanding about gender [and] challenge students to think about the concept of gender,” Gaughan said. “I think it is important for women’s colleges to have GWS programs because historically women have faced inequality on the basis of their gender. I believe GWS programs provide insight to students about historical struggles women have endured along with present current challenges women face.”Sophomore GWS major Kylie Garabed said having such a program on campus is beneficial because it can create a “feminist presence.”“A feminist presence will make sure that the student body is aware of the social issues by holding lectures and events, and this will bring the issue of inequality to the minds of the student body,” Garabed said.Davis said the Saint Mary’s GWS program has hosted several events on campus and in the community. It co-sponsored panels on the films The Hunting Ground and Fifty Shades of Grey, South Bend’s first Slutwalk and an event with the Girl Scouts with Michiana. The program also sponsored a talk by Joel Barrett, a writer who spoke about his experiences with ex-gay therapy.Garabed said she has found the GWS program to be a rewarding experience.“This program is truly amazing. The professors are all great and so passionate about what they are teaching,” she said. “All of the classes that I’ve had to take for my major have taught me so much more about myself and the world than I could have expected. I think everyone should try to take some sort of GWS course in their time at Saint Mary’s because it is just it is so rewarding.”Garabed said GWS courses concern more than just women’s studies.“Here at Saint Mary’s, we have a variety of gender and women’s studies courses that relate to masculinity and LGBTQ … taking one GWS course can provide a student with a new perspective on many social issues and inequalities. Saint Mary’s has a GWS program that is open to all individuals who share different perspectives and beliefs. The best part about going to class is knowing it is going to be discussion-based, and you’ll have the opportunity to share your perspective as well as discover something new.”Tags: 30th anniversary, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies
Saint Mary’s senior Renee Reyes said the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) has provided her with an unprecedented opportunity to share her faith and pursue her passions by educating future generations of underprivileged children in Catholic schools across the country.ACE is a fellowship program which recruits and trains students like Reyes to teach in Catholic school districts across the nation upon graduation. The fellowship includes a cost-free Master’s degree from Notre Dame along with training and school placement for teachers. ACE increases the accessibility of a Catholic education in underprivileged areas, develops talent among students and conducts groundbreaking research to transform disadvantaged school communities.Reyes said she first heard about the ACE fellowship last year while attending band practice at Notre Dame. Upon hearing about ACE, she said, she decided to attend an informational meeting about the program. After attending the meeting and learning more about the program, Reyes said she knew that ACE was the perfect fit for her.“I went home and completed the application that same night,” she said. “I was sold.”Reyes is an English literature and writing double major with minors in history, intercultural studies and early childhood education. She also spends her time volunteering at Saint Mary’s Early Childhood Education Center, where she is able to pursue her love for working with children while on campus. Through ACE, she said, she is able to utilize the skills she has learned through her courses at Saint Mary’s and share her gifts with disadvantaged students across the nation.Before hearing about ACE, Reyes considered Teach For America, a teaching fellowship which places college graduates in underprivileged public schools throughout the United States. Although Teach For America sounded appealing, Reyes said, she wanted an opportunity to spread her faith with others while doing what she loves. When she learned about ACE, she said she knew it provided an unparalleled opportunity to deepen her faith and pursue a career she is passionate about.“ACE is everything I wanted to do wrapped into one package,” she said.In addition to the teaching fellowship, ACE also selects a number of students to intern for the program while they are still on campus. Reyes is currently one of 14 interns for ACE, and she has the responsibility of recruiting prospective Belles to join the program. While on campus, Reyes is a mentor for ACE, helping interested students discover their passions and discern whether ACE would be a good fit for them.Reyes saids that Saint Mary’s has equipped her to thrive in the classroom. “Saint Mary’s has given me everything I’ve ever needed,” she said. “But the main thing is inspiration. Our teachers are so incredible, they care about you as a person, not just as a student … I want my students to feel important and respected like my teachers have done here.” After graduation, Reyes will begin the process of taking classes at Notre Dame and teaching through the ACE program. Until then, she said she is excited to work as a mentor on campus and spread the word about ACE to other Saint Mary’s women.Tags: ACE, saint mary’s, teaching
Nicole Simon | The Observer Junior Patrick Paulsen of Morrissey Manor, left, freshman Logan Schott of Keenan Hall, center, and senior Tom Vaccaro of O’Neill Family Hall, accept their awards as Mr. Walsh, Mr. ND and Fan Favorite, respectively.Sophomores Mackenzie Sheil and Victoria Ruesch, Walsh’s signature event commissioners, emceed the event in addition to planning it. They had help from other Walsh residents, including sophomore Sarah Galbenski, who sold tickets.Galbenski said she loves the evening because it brings people together from all different dorms.“We really love this event because every male’s dorm has someone to support,” she said. “It really fosters community not only among Walsh, but also among each of the men’s dorms.”During the event, the contestants have a question-and-answer segment, followed by their own original act. Some notable performances this year included Mr. Dunne Nick Lampson’s original song about bleach, Mr. Sorin Rory VanDorpe’s ribbon twirling routine and Mr. Siegfried Patrick McGuire’s cooking show.McGuire, sophomore president of Siegfried Hall, said it was an honor to represent his hall at the event. During his cooking show performance, he recreated Buddy the Elf’s iconic spaghetti dish from the movie Elf.“My preparation was pretty minimal. I did some studying of the film. I also did some grocery shopping. I boiled the pasta beforehand,” McGuire said. “I definitely knew I wanted to represent Siegfried Hall as it deserves, but I was worried that I would not be able to do so. You know, a little bit of apprehension going in to it.”Junior Patrick Paulsen of Morrissey Manor played the accordion for his performance, and his opening joke was one of the most applauded of the night.“Before I hit puberty, my mom didn’t want me to associate with anyone who did sex, drugs or rock and roll, so she signed me up for accordion,” he said. “And now I go to Notre Dame.”Paulsen played the national anthem on his accordion while the audience stood and sang the words. The crowd also stood and waved their phone lights back and forth during Mr. Carroll’s piano rendition of “Hallelujah.”Even though there was a sense of community throughout the crowd, the event was first and foremost a competition.The contestants were hoping to be crowned one of the night’s three prizes: Mr. ND, decided by Walsh Hall Staff, Mr. Walsh, decided by the contestants’ escorts and Fan Favorite, voted on by students through an online form.This year’s Fan Favorite was Tom Vaccaro of O’Neill Family Hall, while Paulsen was named Mr. Walsh.Ultimately, the coveted title Mr. ND was awarded to Schott, who represented Keenan Hall and sang Mulan’s “I’ll Make a Man out of You” while lifting weights.“How do I feel? I feel amazing, I feel honored, and ready to just hold it in the silence of my heart, just holding it there, knowing that I have become Mr. ND,” he said.Tags: Keenan Hall, Mr. ND, Walsh Hall Freshman Logan Schott of Keenan Hall was crowned Mr. ND at the 18th annual pageant Thursday night in Washington Hall. The event, hosted by Walsh Hall, invites one candidate from each male’s dorm to showcase “their talent, intellect and humor” in the hopes of winning the crowning title “Mr. ND,” according to Walsh Hall’s Facebook page for the event.All proceeds support Walsh’s signature charity, Joseph’s Academy in Chicago.
Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) WNY News Now File Image.JAMESTOWN – Jamestown Public Schools in collaboration with other educational institutions are hosting virtual college tours this week for students.School officials say the online sessions are available for interested students to obtain information, ask questions and participate in a virtual tour of the campus.Sessions are scheduled as follows:Tuesday, April 14, 11:00 a.m. – Niagara County Community CollegeWednesday, April 15, 11:00 a.m. – Penn State BehrendThursday, April 16, 11:00 a.m. – Gannon UniversityTuesday, April 21, 11:00 a.m. – Mercyhurst CollegeThe virtual college visits are a collaboration with SUNY JCC and the Liberty Partnership Program. For more information, students are asked to contact [email protected]
MGN Stock Image.WASHINGTON – President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will hold competing town halls Thursday night after the cancelation of the second presidential debate.Trump’s event with NBC News is scheduled for 8 p.m. in Miami.It will compete with an ABC town hall featuring democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden.Trump and Biden were originally scheduled to participate in the second presidential debate Thursday night. However, Trump objected to the virtual format announced by the commission on presidential debates after his positive Coronavirus diagnosis.As a result, the debate was eventually canceled. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) WNY News Now Stock Image.ISCHUA – A 63-year-old man died after crashing his four-wheeler in Cattaraugus County early Saturday morning.The Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office says a father and son were riding their ATV on a steep wooded trail in the Town of Ischua just after 6 a.m. when the driver was unable to negotiate the hill and flipped his four-wheeler backwards onto himself and his son.Deputies say the son, a 43-year-old man who was riding on the back of the four-wheeler, was taken to ECMC by Mercy flight for his injuries.The father, deputies report, was pronounced dead at the scene. Deputies say the accident is still under investigation, however, they do not expect to file charges in the case.Saturday marked the first day of regular deer hunting season in Western New York.
The production will feature songs from throughout the rap icon’s career, including classics like “California Love,” “Keep Ya Head Up,” “Me Against the World” and, naturally, the title song, but the story itself is not directly based on Shakur’s life or his drive-by shooting death in 1996. Instead, the story, written by Todd Kreidler, focuses on two childhood friends living in a poverty-stricken Midwestern industrial city, struggling to realize their dreams. Holler If Ya Hear Me View Comments “One of those men spends some time in prison and comes out and wants to change his neighborhood and finds that he really can’t change it alone,” said Leon. “It’s a family story, a love story. If you can, imagine four or five men onstage singing ‘Dear Mama,’ and what that will sound like. Hopefully, it will change the world.” If you’re a Tupac Shakur fan, you may have been surprised to hear that Holler If Ya Hear Me, a new musical inspired by the music of the late rapper, is heading to Broadway’s Palace Theatre. And if you’re a Broadway fan (of course you are! why else would you be reading this?), you also may have been surprised at the news, but Tony-nominated director Kenny Leon believes everyone will be able to relate to the “mountain of beauty” and powerful messages in Shakur’s lyrics and songs. Leon, who earned a Tony nod for directing 2010’s Fences and is also helming this spring’s revival of A Raisin in the Sun, recently told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Holler If Ya Me is the “greatest artistic challenge” of his life. “Selfishly, this is a great thing for me. I feel a great amount of responsibility to his work, to his mother.” Shakur’s mother, Afeni, is also a producer on the show. “She said 10 years ago that she has full trust in me,” Leon said. Related Shows Holler If Ya Hear Me doesn’t officially open until June 19 and casting information hasn’t yet been announced, but the production will feature choreography by Wicked’s Wayne Cilento and music supervision by Daryl Waters (After Midnight). Leon said he’s determined to make sure the musical appeals to everyone. “I want every white older American to get it. I want every older black American to get it. I want every hip-hop artist to get it. I want every 15-year-old to get it,” he said. “If you can write something that touches every one of those groups, we have been successful.” Show Closed This production ended its run on July 20, 2014