Scripts by two Hampshire College students - Hao Bai's Another World and Andrew Figueroa's The Mixed-Race Mixtape - will be presented at WORD! on Thursday, April 17, at 8 p.m. in the Curtain Theater at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A script by Mount Holyoke College student Laakan McHardy, Whitewash, will also be presented.
WORD!, an annual festival of staged readings of scripts dealing with issues of race and diversity written by Five College students, is free and open to the public.
The productions address race and diversity based on playwright August Wilson's idea that theater can raise consciousness and politicize communities of color. The scripts were chosen by the Five College Multicultural Theater Committee, which then offered artistic and dramaturgical support for students to prepare their work for the stage.
The students whose scripts are featured in this year's festival took part in a series of workshops with playwright, performer, and producer Eric Lockley. Students also benefited from the guidance of Adewunmi Oke, a third year MFA student in dramaturgy at UMass, who participated in the workshops and is assisting with the festival.
A graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Lockley is a member of the Movement Theatre Company and the producing collective, Harlem 9. He just finished acting in the world premiere of Black Odyssey by Marcus Gardley at the Denver Center Theatre Company. This month, Chicago's MPAACT Theater Company is mounting the premiere production of Lockley's original play, Without Trace, at the Greenhouse Theater.
Since 1986, the Five College Multicultural Theater Committee, supported by the Five College theater chairs and Five Colleges, Inc., has worked to creatively foreground the experiences of people of color. In addition to the annual WORD! Festival and visiting artist residencies, the committee does this by awarding mini-grants for student-centered productions.