Students put on play focused on racism

AURORA – When Stacey D'Angelo first started thinking about what production she wanted her students to produce for their fall show, she considered To Kill a Mockingbird. Then, Ferguson, Missouri happened.

"Wow, this is incredibly timely and we'll use this opportunity to talk about race," D'Angelo, director of theater at the Community College of Aurora, said.

The Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird ends with a black man convicted by an all white jury in an Alabama town during the Great Depression. But, she wanted a personal touch added by her theater students.

"We're doing To Kill a Mockingbird plus more to almost like break the boundaries and to actually talk about the stuff no one wants to bring up," James Brunt, student, said.

Brunt and fellow African-American student Jasmine Thomas wrote an epilogue which includes poetry and portrayals of personal experiences of racism.

"That's the only way people are gonna understand if they can connect to your personal story," Thomas said. "The things we've written, other people have experienced and so that can connect to that."

Brunt talks about confrontations with people who were threatened by him just because he's black, people that don't like his African-American hair, and people who treated him as an inferior.

"This is a chunk of my life and like this happens to not just me, but to other individuals every day," Brunt said.

Thomas says it is not an easy production for her and other students.

"It's pretty raw because it's so real and it's happening right now," Thomas said. "It's also scary because it's like you're showing everybody your scars."

D'Angelo says this play is important because the world needs to change unlike the racial tensions recently displayed in Ferguson after a white police officer killed a black teenager.

"Things feel the same and that hurts," D'Angelo said. "And, it's a reminder that this isn't just a show and this isn't just a play. But, it means something deeper.

The production of To Kill a Mockingbird begins November 6. If you want to find out more the play, click here: http://www.ccaurora.edu/mockingbird .

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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