Nov. 18, 2015
WEST HAVEN, CONN. - A play about race in America from 1915-2015 will be performed at the University of New Haven from Dec. 3 to 5 at 8 p.m. and for school children on Dec. 3 and 4 at noon.
The UNH theater program is sponsoring the production, which combines a selection of the “Crisis” plays with material devised by students around current and historical events.
“Crisis” plays are about the triumphs and the struggles of the black community from before the Trans-Atlantic slave trade began until the present-day Black Lives Matter movement.
The production will use space throughout Dodds Hall as well as Bucknall Theater on UNH’s main campus, 300 Boston Post Road.
The event is free and open to the public.
The Dec. 5 evening performance will feature a post-play discussion with a panel of experts including Jabari Asim, editor-in-chief of The Crisis, a magazine founded in 1910 by the NAACP.
The play is directed by Jessica Silsby Brater, assistant dean and theater program director. Dramaturgy is by Meg Savilonis, assistant professor in the English department, and sound design is by Simon Hutchinson, assistant professor in the music department.
In the early part of the Harlem Renaissance, The Crisis sponsored short play contests designed to develop a collection of texts that could be used by community groups for educational purposes. The quarterly journal of civil rights, history, politics and culture sought to educate its readers about issues that plague African-Americans and other communities of color.
“UNH theater students have bravely taken on the challenge of theatricalizing a crucial problem for college campuses across the country,” said Brater. “I’m very proud of their work on this production. They have developed a strong experiential understanding of theater’s unique ability to allow artists and audiences to understand complicated issues in a communal and embodied way, prompting critical thinking and social action.”
“Although most of the pieces that we are reading were written in the early 20th century, many of the situations our characters go through are still happening today,” said Jazmin JeanBaptiste, a sophomore theater performance major who is part of the performance. “Racism has not ended; it has simply changed its face. That's what resonates with me the most. Not much needs to be changed from the scripts because they are timeless.”
JeanBaptise, who said she has wanted to be performer since she was little, said, “I am just proud to say I am a part of something that will spark much needed conversation and possibly a positive change here on campus and beyond.”.
The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 the university enrolls approximately 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates.