ECDC, Sandglass team up to tell the story of refugees in Vermont

The Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) and Sandglass Theater invite everyone to experience the refugee journey firsthand through two events in Brattleboro. These events will raise awareness about the challenges and triumphs faced by refugees resettling in the community while also generating support for ECDC's vital work.

This is a fundraising event for ECDC, sponsored in part by the Doris Duke Building Bridges Program's grant to Sandglass Theater and the New England Foundations for the Arts National Theater Project's support of Sandglass's Babylon Project.

On Saturday, Jan. 20, at 3 p.m., Sandglass will present the film version of its award-winning production, Babylon: Journeys of Refugees, at the Latchis Theatre's main theater. This film uses puppets to offer a deeper understanding of the refugee experience, showcasing the resilience and hope of individuals forced to rebuild their lives in a new land.

Babylon was first shown as a work-in-progress event at Putney's Next Stage in April 2017. With the feedback from that event, Sandglass went on to create a much further developed and refined final version of the piece, which toured the Northeastern U.S. until March 2020, when the Covid pandemic caused all touring to be cancelled.

On the eve of a West Coast tour, with no further prospects to take the show on the road, Sandglass turned Babylon into a film, working together with Haptic Pictures in Guilford.

The result of this collaboration is a one-hour film of the live performance with close up portrayal of the puppets and actors. This event is recommended for audiences aged 14 and older.

Working with the USCRI Vermont (U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants), Sandglass conducted research and interviews with new residents, who immigrated to the U.S., to gain insight into their plight and the challenges of resettlement.

Babylon explores the relationship of refugees to their homelands, lost and new, and the conflicts that exist within the countries to which they flee. Using puppets and moving panoramic scrolls, five actor/singer/puppeteers tell refugees' stories in original four-part choral songs.

At 10 a.m. that day, ECDC will host the Refugee Journey workshop, a board game developed by Laurie Stavrand (of USCRI Vermont), in collaboration with Sandglass' Jana Zeller. The event will take place at the Multicultural Community Center at 122 Birge St.

This immersive experience puts audience members in the shoes of a refugee, navigating bureaucratic hurdles, cultural adjustments, and personal challenges before they even board the plane to arrive in their new country.

This event has limited seating and reservations are required.

Tickets for both events are by donation: a $5 suggested donation for the workshop, and $10 to $25 (sliding scale) for the film. To register for the workshop, visit To pre-order film tickets, go to Learn more about ECDC's work at and about Babylon at

This The Arts item was submitted to The Commons.

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