A theater and an arts class at UC Merced have teamed to put on the Voices of the Revolutionary Theatre Collective, which will offer two free shows this week.
The first performance is at 11 a.m. at UC Merced’s Lakireddy Hall, COB Room 102 at the 5200 N. Lake Road campus. The second show is set at 6 p.m. at Merced Multicultural Center, 645 W. Main St.
The play features 18 actors performing in 10 scenes snipped from larger works of black writers and those inspired by black writers, including Marvin X, Amiri Baraka and Sonia Gutierrez, to name a few. A summer art class pitched in to design the sets.
“The whole theme is, what are we doing to better the planet?” said Kim McMillon, a local writer and the show’s director.
The stories are told from the points of view of people of color and feature people of color as the main characters, performers said, but speak to the human condition to which all people can relate.
The show starts with a call and response featuring the whole cast, in which Nathalie Ortega, 21, a psychology major at UC Merced, puts a call out to “black people.”
“We’re following up with calling all humanity, because we want to be inclusive as well,” the Bay Area native said.
Ortega is also featured in Baraka’s “Dutchman,” which explores the main character’s insecurities about his race, social status and masculine prowess.
Another performer, 22-year-old Rodolfo Rojo of Los Angeles, said many of the segments deal with racism and terror that whites carried out upon people of color in the 1960s, but echoes to recent tragedies. “We did not actually deal with this,” the management major said. “We’re seeing it all over again.”
He pointed, as an example, to the killings of nine people on June 19 at a historically black church by the hands of a white man in Charleston, S.C. “It’s like history is repeating itself,” Rojo said.
He is set to perform “Ballad of Birmingham,” a poem by Dudley Randall that tells the story of the 1963 bombing of a black church that killed four girls in Alabama.
Rhonda Randle, 20, a psychology major from Oakland, said she wanted a role in “Git on Board” because it’s a satire about such heavy subject matter. “It’s a lighthearted way of letting people know what happened,” she said.
The show culminates in the entire cast singing Marvin Gaye’s classic “What’s Going On?”
The performance is aimed at adults and features adult language, so it may not be suitable for children.
For more on the show, email McMillon at firstname.lastname@example.org.