Art for Art (Our) Sake

by Sarah Pearl Heard (Staff Writer)

Beginning August 27th, Yale’s experimental theater scene will undergo a decisive (and colorful) shift. This week, auditions begin for three student-directed plays centering POC student actors: The Colored Museum, Water by the Spoonful, and Drakorian.

In The Colored Museum, playwright and Black Girl Magic fountain Alexis Payne ‘19 delivers a hilarious, SNL-style African American history lesson with satire sharper than your Grandma’s worst Thanksgiving clapback.

The play takes the audience everywhere from a Middle Passage reimagined as “Celebrity Slaveship” to an Essence photoshoot, for a total of 11 sketches or “exhibits.” The result is a jarring monument to the pain, joy, absurdity, and strife of Black people in America – a perfect “Colored Museum”. Music facilitates seamless shifts between culture, identity and humor.

Hershel Holiday will direct an original musical, Drakorian which draws heavily from Western history but uses a survey of music from the African  diaspora. If you drop bars in the shower or geek about Hamilton, you have to audition.  In the words of the creator himself “If you like contemporary musical theater, R&B, Jazz, Hip-Hop, or Rap, kings, queens, treason, intrigue, or promiscuity (gasp!), love, happiness, fear, sadness, the intersection of privilege and self-loathing, the intersection of privilege and hook-up culture, or if you just like to perform, then come explore this world with us!

Director Abbey Burgess ‘19 of Water by the Spoonful is committed to diversifying her cast using gender- and race-blind casting. The play – which tackles “race and wealth inequality divides, even just within one family,” navigates themes of grief, and explores “how a community is necessary to make it through” – hits close to home for Yale POC. Tensions arising from racial and wealth inequality divides… necessary community building… all within one family (ahem, Yale’s Black and POC communities?). First-years: ask your PL.

If that weren’t enough, playwright Quiara Alegría Hude co-wrote In The Heights with Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The fact is that many Black and POC creatives at Yale struggle to balance classwork, family, and jobs with art careers. For those who do, it’s draining to donate time to art only for it to be underrated or misunderstood by majority white audiences on our majority white campus.

With a painful election cycle and Salovey discussion fatigue ahead, and Christakolypse behind us, let’s embrace and celebrate each other with some art.

Auditions for The Colored Museum take place August 29 – September 2 (http://yaledramacoalition.org/shows/936/auditions).

Auditions for Water by the Spoonful take place August 27 – August 29 (http://yaledramacoalition.org/shows/926/auditions).

Auditions for Drakorian are August 29 and 30 (http://yaledramacoalition.org/shows/945/auditions).