On Feb 5., the Theatre Department at UNCG opened the semester with a thunderous workshop event of that rocked and riveted the audience throughout their runtimes. The workshop was held in the Brown Theatre Building on Tate Street. Upon arrival, the event was so packed, there were only a few empty seats left in the auditorium.
The hallway of the building was filled with enthusiastic noises and incessant chatter from students who were thrilled to see their comrades in action. The production was an all-out UNCG affair, and along with the students who came in support, a number of parents and family members of those involved in the production were also in attendance.
The Brown Theatre has a welcoming energy that in a way, sucks viewers into the stories told upon its stage. It is far from huge and incites a sense of coziness to its guests that only small theatres of its size can do. The sets were simple, as this was a workshop and not an all-out production.
The second play, “Time,” told the story of a depressed, self-secluded 25-year-old man who was on the verge of killing himself. Written by UNCG student Adrian Quarles, the serious tone of “Time,” captivated the room. A few worried gasps could be heard from the audience as the protagonist shuffled pills into his alcoholic drink and pondered his own demise.
“It was very convincing,” said UNCG junior and Theatre major, Harrison Miles, of the play. Miles felt that “both characters definitely set the tone.”
Lead actor and UNCG junior, Joaquin Flowers, noted how he had to “push himself because the character was a challenge.” Flowers felt that the most difficult part of the role was that “there never was a low for the character, there was always a high in his energy; he’s always angry, but that anger comes from the unfulfilled passions he has in the play.”
The next play, “Mountaintop,” was fitting for Black History Month, as its title was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. Written by popular American playwright, Katori Hall, it follows a fictional account of King’s last night alive in his hotel room.
Throughout the play, King talks with an angel who tries to prepare him to be a martyr for the civil rights movement. The show concludes with King’s future being revealed to him in a monologue that can only be described as epic. The dialogue was one that truly evoked tears. At one point, King fearfully asks the angel if his death will hurt, to which the angel replies, “You ain’t gonna feel the hurt, the world will.”
The truth that could be found in this fictional play was chilling. It seemed to be headed to end on a note of inspiration with Dr. King exclaiming that the promised land of heaven on earth was so close but so far away, until a loud “boom” shuttered throughout the entire theatre and King fell to his death.
Doing the production for a play that has Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in it during the month of February is never going to be a light task. UNCG graduate student and director of the play, Neila K. Ettienne said, “As the director, it was important that I find actors to tell the story of people of the ‘60s truthfully in those given circumstances. It is such an important part of American history, and I wanted the audience to learn something about the night MLK died, that he was just a man who wanted to make a difference by touching the lives of the people. It is the hope that the audience understands the impact; both negative and positive, they can have on their world around them.”
The actor that Ettienne found for the role of King was UNCG sophomore, Jordan C. Collins. Collins felt that the role held big shoes to fill and admitted that this was his first acting job. Collins should be commended for his performance because he filled those shoes very well.
All play lovers in the community should keep their eyes on the UNCG Theatre Department and their works this year because this workshop was awe-worthy.