Renee Sogueco, ‘Doah Managing Editor
March 4, 2015
Shenandoah University celebrated the end of Black History Month on Feb. 27 with the production of “Their Story, Our History: Is Then, Now?”
The program was showcased in Goodson Chapel at 8 p.m. and was directed by Sally Anderson, a Conservatory theatre professor, and produced by vocal performance major Taylor Butts. With the assistance of Intercultural Programs and its director, Maggie McCampbell Lien, the Black Student Union created an intricate show, complete with dancing, singing, acting and informative history. Kamryn Burton, the assistant director and musical theatre major, thought it to be a “stressful, but fulfilling process.”
The show brought together all majors in an intense and genuine production that brought the question of whether racial discrimination is still relevant in today’s U.S. society.
The performance included some students portraying famous African-American figures in history, reciting quotes from the past. Other parts of the performance included short plays and dances. The Ferguson riots were also a part of the material introduced, and a portion of the production touched on sensitive and controversial subjects that are relevant to today’s media culture. All throughout, the cast evoked emotion, whether through tears or laughter, and everyone in the audience was engaged. If there were any mistakes or missteps, they were miniscule and unnoticeable. In context, the material went in chronological order and introduced historical figures that were both mainstream and obscure in traditional U.S. history classes, ranging from Dr. Mae Jemison to Oprah Winfrey.
Another notable part included the Harambee Gospel Choir. The students in the choir were powerful in their performance and well-prepared. With such empowering music, they truly showed the time, effort and preparation they put into their pieces.
During the talkback after the production ended, the audience, and even some of the cast members, used “uncomfortable” as the main term to describe their feelings about the content. The material was real and was able to “shake people out of [their] complacency.” One of the actresses pointed out the offensive nature of the play within the program, stating that it highlighted stereotypes too often, but overall, the entire program made the audience think and contemplate on the subject of racism on varying levels.
A local and recent event on the S.U. campus came up during the talkback. The cast addressed the flyers that were placed throughout the campus saying, “Why do minorities have special treatment?” On the other side of the argument, this occurrence was allegedly in response to the “Minority Etiquette Dinner” that was postponed due to the controversy it presented with its marketing campaign towards students. Whoever posted the flyers also faces ostracization with the controversial way he or she went about it in responding to the campaign. With such an event occurring on campus, there was no denying that there are still forms of oppression in today’s society; the means of oppression may be the only part that is different.
Some students in the audience pointed out the “good tension” throughout the show, where truth was shown unfiltered; the students were able to show a powerful unity and camaraderie.
In order to “educate the uneducated” and to collectively solve the existing problem of discrimination, the best solution is to “ask questions instead of being politically correct” and to be open to change.