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‘Collision’ incites social change through self-expression

‘Collision’ incites social change through self-expression

By Adam Lamper

Section: Arts, Featured

December 4, 2015

“A collaborative, artistic effort to enact social change through personal narrative,” “Collision” explored themes of denial, hopelessness, shame and, eventually, self-liberation through the acceptance of the imperfections that make us different, that make us human.

Having no standard medium throughout the entirety of the performance, the play, which went up in Spingold’s Merrick Theater last month, showcased many genres of the performing and non-performing arts including acting, dance, vocals and even poetry in order to capture the wide range of personal narratives and anecdotes of the cast. What the set design lacked in ornateness, it most definitely made up for in creativity and versatility, a function-over-form concept that connects well with the overarching motif of discovering what works well for oneself, over contemplating and adopting the points of view of others. The dimly lit atmosphere of the stage aided in perpetuating the serious and, at times, somber nature of the performance, while the all-black clothing of the cast suggested feelings of anguish, fear and self-loathing that permeated throughout the changing narratives, or perhaps signifying the universality and indiscriminate nature of said emotions.

Featuring an array of performers as variable in their walks of life as the genres of the performance, “Collision” resonated to some degree with everyone who had the opportunity to see it. Starring Dennis Hermida ’16, Chinyere Brown ’16, Brontë Velez ’16, Solomon McBride ’18, Victoria Fils-Aime ’19 and Molly Gimbel ’16 and directed by Kesi Kmt ’16, the performance had a healthy mix of familiar faces and those who are fresh on the performing scene this year.

“I am a first-year at Brandeis University, and being involved in this performance let me voice my own opinion, and also that of others who struggle to speak up about their own struggles,” Fils-Aime said. “In the beginning of the play, I didn’t quite understand what we were doing actually, but after the performance, I had people who approached me and said thank you. It wasn’t until that moment that I really realized that the role I played in the performance has impacted others’ lives, and I couldn’t be more grateful I was a part of a performance that could do so.”

Sponsored by both Queer People of Color Coalition (QPOCC) and Triskelion (TRISK) by way of grants from the Brandeis Pluralism Alliance, the performance revolves heavily around contemporary issues concerning race, gender and sexual orientation among a myriad of topics that fall under the encompassing obstacle of discrimination and focuses just as intensely on the acceptance of other as it does toward self-acceptance.

“I loved how free and open the space was,” Hermida said. “It was by far the most rewarding show I’ve done at Brandeis. Also, the fact that we were telling our authentic truth, that’s what made this show so special. Personal stories were the entire performance. Without it, there wouldn’t be a show. I was so fortunate to have been able to share my truth.” Having astonished, or at the very least significantly impressed, the audience with his remarkable voice and dynamic range, Hermida reflected on how he was able to manage performing with such a newfound yet completely familiar stage persona.

“I had to be my authentic self on stage; it was so challenging to be myself, because there was no place to hide,” he said. “Singing is the only time where I feel most like myself, which I know sounds crazy. I just was so fortunate to tell my truth in my medium. Also it made me less nervous.”

As with all issues, contemporary or future, past or present, social or personal, performances like “Collision” inspire us to both further our education of these issues as well as to create dialogue in order to educate those who are either unaware or misinformed on the atrocities faced by people on a daily basis not only campus-wide, but also on a national and even global scale as well. “Collision” can only ignite the spark of social change within our minds and our hearts, placing on us the sole responsibility to kindle that fire, so we can burn down the walls of discrimination in order to accept ourselves and others for whom they truly are, their imperfections.

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