The Trinity University Theatre department is making strides to ensure their programming is more inclusive of BIPOC. BIPOC has become a common acronym in conversations about diversity and inclusion, it stands for Black, Indigenious person of color.
Dr. Rachel Joseph, director of the theatre department, came together with other faculty from the theatre program to create a more racially diverse and representative environment by giving historically disadvantaged groups a platform to express themselves. As a result, the program has created the virtual series, Moving Forward: Voices, Stories, and Performances from the Trinity BIPOC Community.
“We were all horrified by the killing of George Floyd that we thought it was important to begin to address our own response as a theatre program committed to anti-racist policies, season, and curriculum, and to consider the things that we wanted to improve about diversity of our season and the curriculum,” said Joseph. “We wrote a statement as a theatre program which outlined a number of actionable items. The idea for Moving Forward came from the statement and our desire to offer a platform that amplified BIPOC voices at Trinity University.”
From recitations and monologues to dance and performance art, the Moving Forward event showcases a variety of talent and perspectives present among the Trinity BIPOC community.
Wren Ramos, a junior theatre and communications major, along with helping run the event, is going to be performing both a personal and a community piece. According to Ramos, the personal piece is going to be a performance about love and identity, focusing on Latinx culture and gender.
“The community piece is going to be on the experience of BIPOC students on campus informed by interviews for the scenic design and with testimonies of different BIPOC students on campus about their time at our university. This is an experience that I don’t think can be easily said but rather felt and seen… that is the beauty of art,” said Ramos. “I have been gathering research because I want to be delicate about it and make sure it’s informed from others.”
The message of this community piece mirrors junior Thomas Peña’s outlook on what Moving Forward signifies.
“Moving Forward to me is giving voice to BIPOC members of the Trinity community to share not only their art and literature, but a platform to share common experiences marginalized groups face within the United States,” said Peña.
Peña is going to be reciting a poem by Francisco Alarcón, titled “En un barrio de Los Ángeles,” in English and Spanish.
Sophomore Seiler Nishimura is going to be performing a monologue stand up centered around her experience as an Asian adoptee.
“I come from a very privileged background and I want to be cautious of that, but I feel comfortable speaking on this subject as something that I feel people have less awareness of,” says Nishimura.
Juliana Martinez, a sophomore English major, is going to be reciting an original poem about reckoning with her mixed heritage.
“I like playing with the different things that language can do, developing my own style has been the process of trial and error,” said Martinez. “I knew right away what I wanted to do, it was figuring out how to put those thoughts into words. That was the tricky part!”
Though every contributor brings forth their own lived experiences, they are all brought together by their desire to share a piece of themselves with the community.
“It’s important people outside of the department know about this event and are encouraged to participate. We want people outside of just the theatre program to get involved. This event is only made stronger if we get people to actually rally around this cause, both participants and audience,” said Nishimura.
“For anyone too nervous to sign up or doesn’t have an idea of what to do, please reach out to either me or any of our professors. It isn’t about throwing you a mic and expecting you to have a finished product,” said Ramos. “The most important thing is you come with your passions and together we can create something. This isn’t just about performing, it is about creation and community, so don’t be afraid to reach out!”
Performances are going to be broadcast through out the semester. The debut of the first event will be October 17.
You may email the Production Manager, Jodi Karjala at email@example.com if you would like to be involved with the series, or learn more about Moving Foward.