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Thu, Nov 09


The Theater at City Tech


An original historical narrative ballet, Orphan Train was conceived & choreographed by CBT Artistic Director and Founder, Marla Hirokawa, and follows early social work pioneer Rev. Charles Brace, founder of the New York Children’s Aid Society.

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Time & Location

Nov 09, 2023, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

The Theater at City Tech, 275 Jay St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA

About the Event

ORPHAN TRAIN Conceived & Choreographed by: Marla A. Hirokawa Music by: Peter Sculthorpe, David Diamond, Alberto Ginastera, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Peggy Stuart Coolidge Lighting Design: Paul Winnick | Costumes: CAO Artz “Congratulations for an inspirational, educational and fitting tribute. In eight beautiful scenes, the narrative ballet tells this moving and heartbreaking story, wonderfully conveyed by this fine company of actor/dancers who with a look or a gesture augment the excellent choreography.” - NY International Fringe Festival Review SYNOPSIS From 1854 to 1929, over 150,000 abandoned and neglected children boarded trains bound for the new West in search of a home. Our ballet follows Rev. Charles Brace, founder of the New York Children's Aid Society, as he crafts a future for Bessie, Mamie and sisters Susie and Dorothy. THE HISTORIC BACKGROUND The industrialization of America began in the 1800’s. The mechanization of industry shifted the economic emphasis away from farms and into city factories. The improvements in agricultural methods and development of farm machinery put many rural laborers out of work. These people immigrated to cities where they knew factories were looking for large numbers of workers. New York in the 1800's also experienced a flood of immigrants from Germany, Italy and Ireland. These immigrants along with others flooded the small employment pool. Many families languished in poverty. Overcrowding, pestilence, abandonment and neglect had bred a large breed of children known as "street arabs." Forced onto the streets, the children quickly became adept as ragpickers, beggars and thieves. This is the New York that Charles Loring Brace, a young seminarian, stepped into in 1849. Visiting New York to preach at a prison, Brace was so affected by these forsaken children, he left seminary, planted himself in New York and set out to rescue them. In 1853, he established the New York Children's Aid Society and began organizing a placing-out program (the first foster care program), now nicknamed the Orphan Trains. Brace believed that the only hope for these children lay in the development of their moral character. He believed that the only way to achieve this was to remove the children from the city and find nurturing homes for them. What better place to relocate them than the West, where these "rovers in the world find themselves in comfortable and kind homes, with all the boundless advantages and opportunities of the Western farmer's life about them." With careful planning and arrangements to secure the children's safety and well-being, the Orphan Trains ran from 1853 to 1929 affecting the lives of over 150,000 children.

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