Sweat unites the theatre with its campus with relevant racial themes
Donovan Wilson – Reporter
Near the end of every semester, the campus theatre department holds a musical but with that being more difficult during COVID-19, a drama by the name of “Sweat” was put on instead.
“Sweat” is a modern telling of how the lives of a white supremacist can affect the lives of black people. This play happened on Nov. 20 and was online with no in person seating. The play was available for streaming for the week following the live performance.
“It was hard doing theatre on zoom but didn’t stop us from telling the story that needed to be told” said Majesty Moore, the student portraying Cynthia in the play.
This was the first live play Southern has done entirely on Zoom. This allowed the unique opportunity to record the show and stream it all week for free.
One of the major themes in the play is racial tensions, which ties in well to the racial tensions of today. One of the major characters in the play, Jason, is a white supremacist who often throws racial slurs around like everyday language towards whomever he pleases. Even though this play was written a few years ago, it fits in very well with the Black Lives Matter movement and the schools social justice initiatives with November being the schools social justice month.
“I hadn’t said any of the slurs until about two or so days prior to the performance. It made the scenes much more powerful but I wasn’t overly happy with having to say it” said Daniel Mizrahi, the student who portrays Jason in the play.
Mizrahi had a very unique experience with the play as he wasn’t approached for it until some fellow students in his theatre class asked him to play Jason about three weeks prior to the play due to no one being picked for the part. He was the only audition and got the job for a rather difficult part to play. It is possible that the controversial yet powerful nature of Jason’s characters involvement in the story is very hard to play and separate from yourself.
A major component of Jason’s character is that he is a white supremacist who uses racial slurs. This caused Mizrahi to have to use the n-word and the s-word towards actual people of color in the context of the play and the character he was portraying. Mizrahi had a difficult time bringing himself to say those words but felt that ultimately it was for the best as it added a layer of power to the overall narrative and message of the play.
“This was a play we had been trying to do for two years but the rights were never available. We actually chose this play before the pandemic and had to work with the director to see if we could pull it off during the pandemic” said Michael Skinner, the chairperson of the theatre department.
Skinner stated that this play was something they had been trying to do for a little while and were happy when they finally could as it’s themes really fit in with the tension of current day. It was created by a woman of color which helps even more with those themes and makes the message feel much more personal. Also, the play won the Pulitzer prize for drama in 2017 meaning that the message obviously is one that resonates.