By Mark Hallum
A new play out of Queensborough Community College exploring what it means to be the “other” in America was selected to open the main stage performances at the regional-level Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival this week.
The piece, entitled “anOTHER,” which took the stage at the festival’s main auditorium at Montclair State University in New Jersey Wednesday, is a collaboration between the QCC Theatre Ensemble and writer-director J. Julian Christopher, an assistant professor in the school’s Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts.
“We are thrilled to be given this opportunity,” said Christopher. “Throughout this exciting experience, we read, talked about ideas, experimented with various physical movements and challenged each other. I drew from the interaction of our student ensemble before I wrote the script. During the rehearsal process, we looked to different Hindu deities and Kirtan meditation to serve as a jumping off point. I chose Indian mythology in part because it is filled with theatricality and interpretive storytelling.”
The production uses the last names of the actors for character names and tells their stories through monologues and dialogue. Using English as a base, the show is performed in five other languages — including Chinese, Spanish, French, Portuguese and American Sign Language.
Actors also showcase their singing talent, with music composed by Nirmal Chandraratna, as they swing from ropes and move about the stage. Used scripts are recycled into falling snow.
“I want to lift the veil on theater,” Christopher said. “Students on sound and light boards, as well as the stage manager, are on stage for the duration of the play. Everyone comes together as a community in order to be aware that we are all in a play so that it is less emotional and more a call to action. This is an ensemble effort in the truest sense of the word.”
“anOTHER” has been performed at Queensborough’s Shadowbox Theatre six times
The QCC Theatre Ensemble’s play, and those from seven other schools, were chosen for the festival from among 66 other productions throughout the region.
“The high quality of work by our excellent faculty, students and administrators has led to this outstanding accomplishment,” said Professor Georgia McGill, the chair of the QCC Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts. “Our student actors, along with the dedicated support of their faculty mentors, have a strong record of being nominated for their superlative performances at prestigious regional and national festivals.”
QCC’s theatre program is the only CUNY institution to be accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall