The Department of Theater Arts presented an acting showcase titled: “Finding Our Way” on Friday, March 25.
Before the showcase began, the room where the actors performed was dimly lit with a deep saturated blue. Chairs for the audience were lined up the walls facing the main stage, which was placed in the center of the room. Whispered chatter and looks of excitement filled the room, waiting for the actors to present themselves.
When the show finally began, the actors took the stage, intentionally breaking the fourth wall by acknowledging the audience’s presence and the showcase they were about to perform. It was humorous, loud and energetic, setting the stage for what the next hour was going to be.
“I wrote that little opening in the beginning with all of [the cast],” said graduating senior acting major Daks McClettie II from Charlotte, North Carolina, who starred in the showcase. “When I first wrote it I was like, this isn’t going to go well at all, but it ended up working out and it made me so happy that everyone liked it.”
Each actor had their own time to shine through a list of anthology stories that were all loosely connected by the theme of personal growth and self-actualization, along with discussions about love in all of its forms.
The first scene was about a young woman struggling with the double-standard perpetrated by men on the subject of sex. She spoke of her experiences as a woman, her desires and her frustration with the way people viewed her for being sexually liberated.
The following scene was an argument between a married couple. The stage lights shined on the wife, sitting alone at the dinner table, waiting for her husband to come home. When he arrives, his indifference to how much time has passed angers her, sparking an argument about what it means to be married and eventually confronting his sexuality.
Other stories depicted parenthood, enslavement, loneliness, romance, crime and hatred stemming from a place of confused love and stunted emotional growth. Whether it was a single mother’s monologue on raising a Black girl in a racist country, or a young man who struggles to find deep connections in his romantic relationships, every story highlighted a different facet of love.
“People don’t want to see a stock character,” said graduating senior and acting major Adirah Robinson from Atlanta, Georgia, who also starred in the showcase. “They want to see what you bring to it… what I really wanted from the showcase was to show vulnerability, to really show that stripped back, very raw feeling.”
Other than the dynamic performances from the actors, the nuanced depictions of love proved to be a real highlight of the showcase. Every performance didn’t focus on the purely romantic aspects of love. The stories about unadulterated friendship and problematic relationships with parent figures were also present.
“To me, it’s about really finding the humanity in all of these characters,” McClettie said. “And therefore showing everyone our own humanity.”
As the show reached its conclusion, more light-hearted scenes offered much needed levity from the vivid depictions of heartbreak and chaos, like a scene of two slaves hanging from their wrists waiting to be sold. The scene smartly used satire to both acknowledge America’s ugly past and its long lasting impacts today, while also letting its actors show off their comedic timing under dark circumstances.
“We were trying to be really mindful of the order as well,” Robinson said. “We didn’t want to make it too heavy all the time, we were being really thoughtful about the order and transitions.”
“Finding Our Way” was a demonstration of Black excellence in storytelling, acting and stage management. The audience reaction to the showcase was unsurprisingly positive.
“I had a blast,” said sophomore public relations major Sydney Foster from Montclair, New Jersey. “I was entertained the entire time and I loved every single monologue.”
Every scene offered a gem in social commentary and entertaining theatrics, and more than anything, every single performer became their characters and left the audience moved.
Copy edited by Jasper Smith