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Students perform in MLK theater project


By Francesco Ferrara



Student performers challenged social perceptions of race, gender, social class and sexual orientation on campus over the weekend in the Emergent Theater project “Revolution.”

Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., the performance included 21 acts featuring poetry, scripted skits and songs.

More than 30 graduate and undergraduate students from both IU and Ivy Tech Bloomington came together to perform.

The show, directed by Eric Love, director of the Office of Diversity Education, adjunct assistant professor Gustave Weltsek and Senior Associate Director of Student Life and Learning Darrell Ann Stone, confronted controversial issues by having performers act out common forms of social injustice using derogatory language and express their feelings of oppression.

The Emergent Theater, which started performing shows last year, provides opportunities for passionate students to learn acting skills and express
themselves.

Each actor and member of the cast contributed to writing and telling a story of their choice within each artistic piece.

The show was meant to shock and make the audience think about standing up and changing society, according to the program.

“Catalyst,” another Emergent Theater performance, was produced and performed last year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “Catalyst” was the first of three Emergent Theater performances to be shown at IU in celebration of the holiday.

Love said he has some ideas in the works for another show for next year that will correspond with the same civil rights messages.
 
“I really wanted something with student voices so they can connect with powerful topics,” Love said.

He said while he is not sure what will be in store for the Emergent Theater project next year, he has high hopes that students will be able to view these productions and be inspired to take a powerful stand for change in years to come.

“Revolution”, which lasted more than an hour and a half, caused mixed emotions in the audience.

Audience members laughed at depictions of racial stereotypes during some pieces, but during “Meteor,” written by Shawn Scott, members of the audience were in tears.

The show illustrated stereotypes and controversial topics affecting minorities of race and sexual orientation, including a confrontation of minority representation on campus.

Love, who also produced the show, said he wanted the show to come off as an honest form of self expression.

The piece “Human Sculpture” was a representation of unity. The entire cast formed and reformed themselves into different positions that explored different scenarios at the same time.

The show had musical pieces such as “Would Sing,” which included crowd interaction, as well as scripted skits such as “Tragedy,”written by Yusuf Agunbiade.

“A couple of things such as the language was personally uncomfortable for me, but the point is being true to the characters,” Love said. 

The cast stayed behind at the end of the show to answer audience questions and share some of their personal experiences from participating in “Revolution.”

They expressed their love for what they shared with the audience and said it helped them grow as both artists and people.

Follow reporter Francesco Ferrara on Twitter @chessscooo.

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