Adelphi theater group promotes social justice

Sophia Conti

At 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 20, a group of theatre students began shuffling toward the Pollack Plaza in front of the Adelphi University Performing Arts Center their procession punctuated by the clang of a bell, signaling the stop and go of their actions. 

This was the beginning of “A Day in the Life of Us and Them,” a collaborative performance with the Living Theatre, a theatre company famous around the world for pioneering the concept of theatre for social justice.

The performance was the culmination of a three-day workshop comprised of acting exercises, discussions of social issues, and unconventional script-writing methods. Over the course of the three-day workshop, students overcame their initial hesitancy and became much more comfortable with the Living Theatre, with each other, and with themselves. 

“People were very open with each other for the entire three days,” said Isuri Wijesundara, a freshman theatre major. “That is what really brought the performance together.”

The Living Theatre uses a large repertoire of abstract theatre techniques and encourages audience participation in their performances. A key concept of their performances is to have the actors play themselves, rather than a character. 

“It’s easy to play a character as a racist,” said Lucas Iverson, a sophomore. “It’s much harder to say ‘I judge people based on the color of their skin.”

Maggie Lally, associate professor of theatre at the University, was instrumental in setting up the collaboration with The Living Theatre. Lally is a firm believer in interdisciplinary education, constantly searching for new projects and people to incorporate into her classes, both from inside the University and out. 

Lally is a member of the steering committee for the Collaboration Project, a collective effort by Adelphi University students, faculty, and staff to present interdisciplinary perspectives centered on a particular theme, chosen annually. This year’s theme is “The Changing Nature of War and Peace.”

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Sophia Conti

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