Division of Theater and Dance Explores Race and Prejudice in New Manufacturing – The Appalachian

Courtesy of Gina Grandi

The performers of “This Is Not The Play”. The Division of Theater and Dance carried out the play virtually from Thursday to Sunday final.

The State Division of Theater and Dance App was one of many first to carry out the at the moment unreleased play “This Is Not The Play” virtually from Thursday to Sunday final. The play takes place within the mind of a black playwright and focuses on her problem getting her imaginary white characters to cooperate together with her as she makes an attempt to write down a play about them.

Latavia Owens, who goes by means of her / her / them / them pronouns and performed the playwright in “This Is Not The Play,” mentioned she thinks the play lends itself effectively to a digital efficiency.

“It sort of helps permit it to current itself extra as being within the playwright’s mind as an alternative of one thing being acted out, as a result of on display screen we’re all on this little realm,” Owens mentioned.

The play explores themes of racial prejudice, prejudice and privilege. In a single scene, a personality hovers above the solid sporting a clear blue shirt, black tie, and a cheerful smile. The character explains to the solid how certified he’s to be a literary agent simply because he is white.

“Most whites,” he mentioned, “do not know (of the distinctive qualification) as a result of we passively, blindly reap the advantages.”

The rationale the piece emphasizes highlighting the privilege of white could be present in its origins. A theater troupe known as the Mad Canine Theater Firm initially commissioned playwright Chisa Hutchinson to write down the play. Hutchinson, who writes primarily for individuals of shade, was stunned when she realized that the Mad Canine Theater Firm’s theater troupe was predominantly white.

Describing his strategy of writing “This Is Not The Play” as a dive into “uncharted territory,” Hutchinson ended up remodeling his writing course of from the play to the play itself.

Hutchinson mentioned the play was “fairly autobiographical,” because it based mostly the character of the darkish playwright on her private experiences. The black playwright even grew up in Newark, New Jersey, similar to Hutchinson.

Owens mentioned they felt like she may relate loads to the character.

“Though she’s surrounded by a bunch of white actors or white characters that she creates, she nonetheless limits relatability to them,” Owens mentioned, “and is ready to perceive (white actors and characters) and the place they ‘come from, and do not are available a biased means. And that is how I’ve all the time been as a result of I all the time went to principally white excessive colleges.

Gina Grandi, director of “This Is Not The Play,” notes that the State Division of Theater and Dance App has “a predominantly white pupil physique,” which has led the division to surprise, ” How can we do a greater job of watching theatrical work that is not about white individuals after we can also’t essentially act out what we wish to have the ability to do?

Grandi mentioned she thinks “It isn’t the sport” helps reply that query.

“I feel we have been very fortunate with this play as a result of the play is about these conversations, however it may be began with our pupil physique.”

Hutchinson says one of many conversations she hopes the play will get individuals speaking about is about being ready to grasp others earlier than instantly passing judgment.

“For whites, I actually need them to consider how they work together with blacks, and the sorts of assumptions they make about blacks – to essentially possibly take a break,” Hutchinson mentioned.

Grandi mentioned the solid additionally took a while to rethink their very own prejudices and prejudices throughout rehearsals.

“The solid was actually, actually wonderful being able to have these conversations and sit in some discomfort as a result of it isn’t very, black and white, for lack of a greater phrase, it isn’t. not a really black and white piece, ”says Grandi.

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