Vertigo Productions, one of the nine student theatre boards included within StuCo, has spent the last 23 years bringing student-written plays off paper and onto the stage. Their full season features a wide variety of works ranging from musicals to 10-minute plays. Right now, Vertigo’s focus is on the staged readings of two new plays being produced in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Afrocensored follows three black women from different cultures and their time spent traveling in Paris. Over the course of the hour-long play, the glamour of the big city falls away as they learn about the continued prevalence of racism, colorism, and Islamophobia. Inspired in part by the personal experiences of playwright Amira Danan ’19, the play examines the discomfort and anger felt by the women as they look to respond to this reality. As a theatre major, Danan has previously written plays about how individuals develop their own identity. She hopes that by deconstructing the racism of French society, audiences may search for parallels to American society.
While Afrocensored transports its audience to a foreign environment, Chains on Chocolate by Elliot Sagay ‘19 takes another perspective by focusing on racism at home in his bold new work. With a narrative that spans from pre-Civil War to the current day, his play considers the implication of continuing racial inequality, even as laws and social policy are changed. Sagay raises doubt about the success of these changes, asking audiences to reconsider what “progress” really means.
Both plays will be staged in the Shanley Pavilion, with performances of Afrocensored on January 18 and 20 at 8 p.m. and Chains on Chocolate on January 20 at 2 and 10 p.m. As with all other festival events related to Martin Luther King Jr. day, there is no cost for admission. All students are encouraged to come learn through theatre. These two plays challenge audiences to see the connections between the United States’ historic past with racism, discrimination seen abroad, and the supposedly “post-racial” society in the modern-day America, as well as to consider – as Martin Luther King, Jr. did – what freedom really means.