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Coffeehouse prefaces ‘Nightingale’s’ deliberate inclusivity

By Clayre Benzadon

Section: Arts

October 30, 2015

On Friday, Oct. 23, Brandeis Ensemble Theatre (BET) hosted “The Love of the Nightingale” coffeehouse to promote their play, a retelling of an ancient Greek myth. This play explores violence as a theme, especially sexual and racialized violence as well as gendered hostility and aggression.

During the beginning of the event, cast members introduced themselves and then came up to perform works of poetry, song and other original pieces. The first performer presented a slam piece titled “A Special Place for Black Girls,” which gave social commentary on the struggle of living in the world as a black woman: “Momma, I know you may be angry … but I just want to know if there is a place up there for special black girls like me.”

Another cast member wrote an original piece and performed a heartwarming song about a lonely dinosaur. The audience, which was a small group and even included some parents, clapped for an encore. Afterwards, cast member Morgan Winters ’17 came up and recreated her monologue-poetry piece, which dealt with the theme of sexual violence. In her act, she created a metaphor where the abuser broke her wings off and she lost an invaluable possession.

Later on, director Ayelet Shrek ’17 came up and read a couple of powerful pieces, one of which was inspired by “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is not enuf”: a commentary that dealt with issues of sexual violence, mental illness and of other relatable emotions. She described living in this world as living in a sort of “safety net.” She explained that we live in such a way that we aren’t sure where the boundaries are and experimented with wordplay on the meaning of boundaries and our perspectives of our lives: especially the meaning of being afraid. One of her other pieces was a vivid feminist monologue that discussed how society views the female body and how women’s bodies are objectified.

In the middle of the coffeehouse, the cast directed a play within a play, an enticing sneak-peak of “The Love of the Nightingale.”

The most important aspect of this play is the fact that there is a diverse cast. Many of the campus plays before last spring’s “for colored girls” have consisted of a homogenous group of actors, and the goal of Brandeis’ future for the arts is to bridge the gap between “difference,” or better said, diversity. In this play, the issue of racism comes up and reflects the fact art is not as easily accessible for ethnic, racial or other marginalized minorities because of the fact that it does not relate or represent their cultures or is not sensitive of these differences. Therefore, “The Love of the Nightingale” provides a framework for including more diverse cast members as well as raising awareness of issues of social justice.

The play will run this weekend, opening on Thursday, Oct. 29 and showing through Sunday in the SCC Theater.

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