On Sunday, May 6, 2012, Human Rights Watch will present CRIES FROM THE HEART: FREEDOM NEEDS A VOICE at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica.

Works by acclaimed writers, journalists, and activists from around the world will be performed on stage by a star-studded cast of actors that are all donating their time and talent to take part in this important evening.

The cast includes Lisa Edelstein, Jacqueline Emerson, Greg Germann, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Anna Khaja, Sally Kirkland, Dayo Okeniyi, Missi Pyle, Peter Riegert, Julian Sands, Arnold Vosloo, and Reno Wilson. Special musical guests include Aloe Blacc and Isobel Campbell.

The 90-minute show will include powerful performances of selected writings and personal testimonies that celebrate and bring to life the voices of individuals who dare to speak out for freedom and justice around the world. The audience will be transported to the Middle East to hear testimonies from the frontlines of the Arab Spring. They will be inspired by the words of courageous human rights pioneers including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Vaclav Havel. The closing piece will dramatically and powerfully highlight an issue that Human Rights Watch has been advocating on for years – the plight of youth in our juvenile justice system, notably the harsh sentence of Life Without Parole for Juveniles.

Jonathan Feldman, artistic director of Cries From The Heart, is one of the early members of Human Rights Watch’s Committee in Southern California. “What I want the performance to do is show that ordinary people who had no reason to believe that they could make a difference – in incredibly difficult situations – decided to stand up and speak out for human rights, and were able to change things. We are thrilled to have such an incredible array of talent performing this important material on stage.”

Interwoven throughout the show will be musical performances by acclaimed R&B/jazz/hip-hop artist Aloe Blacc, and the brilliant Isobel Campbell from the band “Belle and Sebastian”.

“The issues Human Rights Watch tackles are complex,” said Human Rights Watch Southern California Director Justin Connolly. “Sex trafficking, child soldiers, religious persecution, the plight of migrant and domestic workers. Cries From the Heart dramatizes these sometimes heart-wrenching but also inspirational and uplifting stories, and makes them accessible for our audience to understand. These are issues that people care deeply about, and want to learn more about.”

Cries From The Heart was established in London in 2002 by the distinguished British actor Anna Massey. Each year the event attracts renowned actors, musicians, writers, and activists to the topic of human rights. Past performers include Harold Pinter, Annette Bening, Rosario Dawson, Tom Stoppard, Sandra Oh, Danny Glover, Judi Dench, Joseph Fiennes and Roger Waters.

Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world. It stands with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice. It investigates and exposes human rights violations and holds abusers accountable. It challenges governments and those who hold power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law. It enlists the public and the international community to support the cause of human rights for all.

Human Rights Watch is an independent, nongovernmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. It accepts no government funds, directly or indirectly.

Cries From The Heart is staged by the Human Rights Watch Cries From The Heart Committee, with generous support from The Broad Stage and all of the actors and musicians taking part. Proceeds from the evening support Human Rights Watch’s work in 90 countries around the world.

The event takes place on Sunday, May 6, 2012 at The Broad Stage, Santa Monica

Tickets: $100 (balcony) and $150 (orchestra). For further information: hrw.org/los-angeles or (310) 477-5540.

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