Zara Aina means “Share Life” in Malagasy, the language of Madagascar. Broadway actors Lucas Caleb Rooney and Bryce Pinkham founded Zara Aina in 2012 to help at-risk children in Madagascar harness the transformative power of theatrical storytelling and performance to expand their capacity for achievement, invest in their sense of possibility, and recognize their potential.
With staff working in New York City and at our Center in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Zara Aina is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working to develop sustainable performance-based programming for students ages 10-18.
In Madagascar, Zara Aina partners with local public schools and organizations working with at-risk youth prone to panhandling and homelessness to identify potential members of its Youth Company. Youth Company members work through our theater curriculum, from the basics of movement, dance and play in the first year; to character-building in the second; to creating a full-length show in the third; all while receiving English and French instruction. The Fourth Year provides study support, test prep, vocational training, and possible internships.
Zara Aina addresses the critical needs of the Youth Company members by subsidizing school tuition, meals, medical, and dental care, in an effort to knock down barriers to education and make way for scholastic, personal, and creative growth.
Zara Aina has worked on Theater for Development projects with international NGOs and other partners such as the U.S. Embassy, UNICEF, Catholic Relief Services, Grandir Dignement, and GEZ.
In the United States, Zara Aina has brought its creative storytelling model to schools, recreation centers, shelters, and community-based organizations in the tri-state area and in rural Alabama who have expressed an interest in using our theater workshops to strengthen important educational and social skills such as creative thinking, collaboration, effective reasoning, communication, and following ideas from beginning to end.
At the heart of Zara Aina is the transformative power of storytelling. From learning to express themselves, to empathizing with others, to beginning to understand universal themes and ways of looking at the world, theatrical storytelling creates confident learners who are better prepared to participate actively in their education, community, and social lives.