Real-world issues inspire performers

Senior computer science major Jacob Bogdanoff throws tofu at the audience in ‘Hellharbor Chronicles,’ a satire on nutrition, written by junior theater major Jordan Klomp and directed by senior theater major Gracie Gilb. Fifteen original plays were performed over the course of four days as final projects for students in the Theatre and Community class, under the supervision of Director of Theatre Steve Kent and artist-in-residence Alma Martinez. Students in the class immersed themselves into social issues and developed skits based on live-interviews with a specific community. The short plays addressed topics such as the effects of divorce on children, the pressure athletes feel and the stress of eating disorders. / photo by Sara Flores
Senior computer science major Jacob Bogdanoff throws tofu at the audience in ‘Hellharbor Chronicles,’ a satire on nutrition, written by junior theater major Jordan Klomp and directed by senior theater major Gracie Gilb. Fifteen original plays were performed over the course of four days as final projects for students in the Theatre and Community class, under the supervision of Director of Theatre Steve Kent and artist-in-residence Alma Martinez. Students in the class immersed themselves into social issues and developed skits based on live-interviews with a specific community. The short plays addressed topics such as the effects of divorce on children, the pressure athletes feel and the stress of eating disorders. / photo by Sara Flores

Deonah Cendejas
Staff Writer
Melissa Gasia
Assistant Editor

Issues such as eating disorders, divorce, single motherhood, victim blaming and alcoholism were portrayed Wednesday through Saturday as the final projects of the Theatre and Community course taught by Steve Kent and Alma Martinez in the Jane Dibbell Cabaret Theatre.

“Theatre and Community is a class where everyone picks a community that they’re passionate about,” said sophomore theatre major Wayne Keller. “We go out into the real world, find people in that community, interview people for the stories and then from those stories, we created 10 to 15 minute skits.”

Keller wrote about the issue of alcoholism in families with ‘‘Music was my Refuge” relating to his own personal experience as a child of an alcoholic.

His show is about an Alcoholics Anonymous support group that shares their stories. In the background, Keller strongly incorporated a variety of music depicting certain moods.

“There’s music playing because music has always helped me get through everything I went through,” Keller said. “I feel like it’s a community that people don’t know a lot about.”

Another topic in which many of the students felt was relatable was the issue of divorce. In “The Things We Pass On,” written by senior theatre major Mark Okimura and directed by junior theater major Alex Freitas, junior business major Wesly Tan portrayed Carson, a man divorced from his wife Samantha, played by sophomore radio broadcasting major Sarah Tang, but still a father to their son.

In the scene, the mother vulgarly yells at her son, in which he then vulgarly yells at his friend for little to no reason. The skit was meant to portray the cycle of hurt divorce can pass down through the family, Freitas said.

“It’s really cool because you really have to put yourself in another character’s shoes,” Tan said. “You learn a lot about yourself when you try to be someone else.”

The students in Theatre and Community have been preparing for these performances since the beginning of the semester.

The students were allowed to have artistic freedom for their performance, as their play could then be turned into slam poetry or satire.

“Hellharbor Chronicles” was a satirical piece on nutrition and although the script never mentioned Davenport or Bon Appetit, the student actor wore a uniform with the label, “Bad Appetit”.

The audience was lit with laughter and nods of agreement at lines referring to how horrible the food is, such as “I’m going to be in the bathroom for twelve hours,” and “Tonight we dine in hell.” Written by junior theatre major Jordan Klomp and directed by senior theatre major Gracie Gilb, “Hellharbor Chronicles” was purposefully an over-dramatization with food fights and a pitchfork-holding chef.

The audience was not only filled with tears of laughter, but with tears of sadness as well, according to sophomore theater major Audie Munoz.

“I really enjoyed the eating disorder piece, because it was really different as an interpretive dance and how it got a reaction out of the audience,” Munoz said. “I looked over at my friend, and she was balling her eyes out.”

In “Ana and Adaline,” lines such as, “No one will notice your 4.0 (GPA) unless you’re smaller than a size four” and “Forget food, feed off the attention,” shocked the audience and shed light to the true thoughts and challenges people encounter with eating disorders.

“I think we’re hoping to get people to start thinking about these issues,” Munoz said. “Even if we can impact one person, we’re successful.”

At the end of the show, audience members shared their concerns, their stories and asked questions with the actors, writers and directors.

Deonah Cendejas can be reached at deonah.sharifi-cendeja@laverne.edu.

Melissa Gasia can be reached at melissa.gasia@laverne.edu.

Deonah Cendejas
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