Search SiteSkip to Main Content
Top

CCRI Players tackle America’s social climate with devised theater production

March 16, 2021

Beginning Thursday, the Community College of Rhode Island Players take a deep, personal dive into our nation’s social climate with the production of Unity Poem: The Past, Present, and Future, an original devised theater performance written entirely by students with inspiration from BIPOC (black, Indigenous and people of color) poets. 

Co-produced by Adjunct Professor Kira Hawkridge and guest artists Daria-Lyric Montaquila and Ronald Lewis – a CCRI alum – Unity Poem breaks new ground this week as The Players’ first devised theater production, allowing the students to weave their own personal experiences and unique perspectives into the storyline.

Also referred to as “collective creation,” devised theater is a method of theater-making in which the script originates from collaborative, improvisatory work by the ensemble. In her role as the Founding Artistic Director of Providence’s OUT LOUD Theatre, Hawkridge is well-versed in the concept of devised theater and, according to CCRI Theatre Program Coordinator Ted Clement, laid the foundation for working with The Players on a corresponding piece prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As part of Hawkridge’s ensemble cast at OUT LOUD, Lewis and Montaquila bring added experience to the table in helping The Players draft this original, first-of-its-kind production. In addition to its role as a benchmark performance for CCRI, Unity Poem also doubles as a relevant, opportune peek at the current pall racial inequality and social injustice have cast on society in recent months. The Players reflect their thoughts, opinions, and feelings on the state of identity, race, and culture in America today, exploring where they came from, where they are now, and where they’re going.

Unity Poem premiers virtually on Thursday, March 18 at 7:30 pm via streaming platform ShowTix4U and continues with performances Friday at 7:30 and Saturday at 2 and 7:30 pm with a Sunday 2 pm matinee.

 “The concept of this production is to give personal meaning to the experiences of individuals in today's current social climate, while drawing from their own pasts and looking toward a brighter future,” Montaquila said. “By incorporating BIPOC poetry and excerpts written by the ensemble, Unity Poem gives a lens into what it means to be an American both historically and presently, and the encompassing sameness and stark differences of what individuals experience in our society.”

“Devised theater, to me, means being able to create something unique in the room with your ensemble members that would be completely different if even one ensemble member were to change,” she continued. “Devised pieces are extremely personal because they are given shape and life by the actors creating and performing them. No two devised pieces will ever look the same because the circumstance, the setting, the ensemble, and their personal histories will be different, lending itself to an entirely new experience.” 

The cast includes CCRI students Francesca Binder (Providence), Dinorah Best (Providence), Nicholas Griffin (Charlestown), Abbey Pezza (Saunderstown), Lia Pinto (East Providence), Nyah Price (Providence), Damari Recillas (Cranston), Herlyn Rodriguez (Cranston), Jacob Scott (Middletown), and Ednilson Tavares (Pawtucket), all of whom contributed their own personal experiences to the script with inspiration from specific works of art. In co-producing the performance, Montaquila said one of the poems that inspired her and others in the cast was Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes, written in 1935. The poem speaks on the “American dream” that never existed for lower-class Americans and the freedom and equality that every immigrant hoped for, but never received – a reflection on the experiences of African Americans and other economically disadvantaged and minority groups that is still relevant today.

Scott, performing for just the second time as a member of The Players, calls the production “fun, effective, and inspirational.” Best, a newcomer to the concept of devised theater, reflected on the “vulnerability and trust that each person brought to the process,” a sentiment Montaquila echoes while noting, “we all became pretty close during the process because of the honest nature of the show.”

“As a woman of color, it is important to me that my people and our experiences be represented in art,” said Montaquila, an activist and board member of The Womxn Project. “Being a community organizer, I have seen how uncommon it is for marginalized communities’ experiences to be explored and valued, especially in a way that wasn’t retraumatizing or victimizing. To be able to share the personal stories of our own students, many of whom are BIPOC, is truly a gift, because actors are so often seen as caricatures instead of real people.”

Share this story

Latest News

News Image

A road less traveled

More than a decade after beginning her journey as a Photo Specialist at Walgreens, first-generation CCRI alumna Michelle Roques is now behind the pharmacy counter as a Registered Pharmacist.

Read More

News Image

Seizing the opportunity

Seventeen seniors from Providence’s public high schools will graduate from their respective high school this year as part of CCRI's Accelerate program to earn up to 24 transferable college credits.

Read More

News Image

Spring 2022 Dean's List

Students enrolled in a degree program who have completed 12 credits with a grade point average of 3.25 or higher each semester with no grade lower than “C” are eligible for the Dean's List.

Read More

News Image

Mission accomplished

From the festive, well-decorated graduation caps to the sounds of Pomp and Circumstance filling the arena, CCRI returned to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center for its first in-person commencement since 2019.

Read More

News Image

Relentless drive

Despite a long battle with COVID with pregnant with her second child, Providence's Christine Williams – a mother, student, and entrepreneur – never gave up on finishing her degree at CCRI.

Read More

News Image

The prototype

At first glance, 60-year-old Ryk McIntyre might not seem like the typical CCRI student, but the Fine Arts major encapsulates the spirit of the Class of 2022 as this year's commencement speaker.

Read More

News Image

Million-dollar dream

CCRI is one of 10 finalists in Lumina Foundation’s TheMillion Dollar Community College Challenge, which will award $1.9 million to amplify marketing at America’s community colleges.

Read More

News Image

From passion to purpose

Ilyus Evander (they/them), a transfeminine student from Providence, is studying Technical Theater at CCRI and recently released their second poetry book exploring family relationships through dreams.

Read More

Upcoming Events