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Thursday, August 05, 2021
A camera in Mitchell Theatre recorded student responses about what issues of race mean to the Madison community.

A camera in Mitchell Theatre recorded student responses about what issues of race mean to the Madison community.

University Theatre engages interviewees in race conversations for upcoming production

The University Theatre conducted interviews of volunteer participants Wednesday in an effort to address one question: “Why is it important to talk about race at UW-Madison?”

People were encouraged to stop by the Mitchell Theatre lobby and share their opinions. Benjamin Young, the general manager of the University Theatre for the Department of Theatre and Drama, created this project to start the conversation about what race means to both students and the community.

The interviews will feature students, theatre production members, university faculty and community leaders. They will be compiled into a single video that will be posted on the theatre department’s website, as well as their social media accounts.

In addition to educating students about race, the video is an advertisement for the University Theatre play “Smart People,” by Lydia Diamond, opening Feb. 25.

“It’s important to talk about this because of the fact that we’re bringing this play,” Young said. “We want this dialogue to happen before the play even shows up so that people are talking about it, will go see it and will continue the conversation.”

Set when Barack Obama is about to become president, the piece concerns topics of race and color blindness.

“Part of the reason we chose this show was because … We can talk about what it means to discuss race and what race means to us as a culture by looking at a piece of art, and using that as a catalyst to spark conversation,” Young said.

Adrien Bossogo-Egoume, a student interviewed for the project, said it is important because race is not as it is often portrayed in the media.

“I wanted to let people know that there is an official movement out there,” Bossogo-Egoume said. “Those who try to claim that they are a part of the movement without actually being a part of it are detrimental to what it is all about.”

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