What We Do

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 headquarters in New York and Antananarivo, Madagascar, Zara Aina is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working to develop sustainable community-based theater programs for children and teenagers through collaborations with community organizations in Madagascar and the United States.

In Madagascar, Zara Aina invites children prone to panhandling and homelessness from the poorest neighborhoods of the capital city, Antananarivo, to join the Youth Company. Youth Company members spend the year working 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 test prep, vocational training, and internships. In the summer, American theater artists join the Youth Company to work on their shows and tour them around the country.

Zara Aina also works closely with local Malagasy community organizations and established NGOs throughout the country to confront the lack of educational opportunities facing Malagasy children by providing a year-round, holistic, child-centered learning model. 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.

In the United States, Zara Aina brings its creative storytelling model to American schools, recreation centers, shelters, and community-based organizations 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.