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Mahatma Gandhi once wrote, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” For the cast of Quinnipiac University’s Theater for Community, “Whitewashed in the (Neighbor)’Hood” is their statement against racism and hate in the world.
In light of last year’s racial slurs spread around campus, members of Quinnipiac’s Theater for Community created this original play to focus on human struggles, tragedies and obstacles many face in life. Along with the New Haven Family Alliance, Inc., which works to strengthen the lives of children and families in the New Haven community, various youths worked alongside Quinnipiac students to put on a moving production with performances from April 15 to 19 at the Long Wharf Theatre. Both members of the theater program and the youths helped write the script. Theater Professor Dr. Crystal Brian directed the production.
“We are creating an original piece of theater that explores and articulates the experiences we have as humans, the struggles and hardships we endure, and our universal search for strength, hope and transcendence in overcoming those struggles; gun violence, violence prevention, childhood trauma, memory, dreams and empowerment are all motifs we will explore,” Dr. Brian said in a recent Quinnipiac press release.
Amidst the cast’s theatrical acting to tackle these serious issues, the stage went black during specific intervals, merely light by the images on the television screens above-where the cast appeared in a confessional-like format along with an assortment of members from the board of directors for the committee. Each expressed their desires for world peace, a better future for their children, the importance of dreams and goals, as well as how each person was affected by the Quinnipiac racial slurs. The performance made a dramatic statement against hate crimes and violence with children expressing the tragedy of seeing friend after friend pass away due to gang violence.
“Whitewashed: The Rough Draft” premiered in April 2008, which unofficially began the journey for this specific production. The goal is to create a similar project every year, focusing on various issues in the community. The experience was rewarding, to hear children right around the corner from our university, expressing their hopes and wishes for a better world, mentioning that people need to wake up from the slumber they are in and realize the hostility and struggle that occurs every day. Those involved made a strong statement that something needs to be done. And, with a cast of less than 20 people, they are well on their way to promoting change, equality and a safer world.