On Sept. 7, a small cast of six student actors will take on the challenge of reproducing the creation of a play from genocide research in the “intimate setting” of Strother Studio Theatre.
“We are Proud to Present a Presentation about the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, from the German Südwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915” illustrates the impact of German colonizers within the Herero tribe of Namibia.
“[This play has] hit close to home,” said Veronica Santoyo, the director of the play. “When the characters are actors devising a play, and you're actually working with actors that are the same age, you know [that acting is] what they do. We [kept saying] we will try to figure out how we tell this story.”
The show starts with the actors “devising” their own play based on historical letters from German soldiers to their wives along with photographs of the Herero tribe.
“[From there,] the play is basically divided by the playwright into what is called the presentation and process,” Santoyo said. “Presentation is where they verbally rehearse parts of the play. Then process are the parts where they talk about what they did.
“So what happens is as they go through this presentation and process, the historical narrative begins to blur as their personal narratives from the present start to take over. [Finally,] the present completely takes over for a surprising ending.”
Since the ending of the play becomes so personal for the actors, Santoyo said “it’s risky material.”
“There’s six actors: three are black, and three are white, so we are talking about things that each one can identify with,” Santoyo said. “It was imperial that we work together with an opening to build and try things that were a little harder or that hit home in some way.”
Martin Tebo, a junior acting major, said this experience is one of the most challenging and rewarding in his acting career.
“It’s been so lead by the actors that it brings everyone's talents together to create something that is unique to our [own] experiences in life and our skills as actors,” Tebo said.
Working with the actors on this complex show, Santoyo also discovered her personal interests in the topic.
“I can say, personally I think what I find interesting is this play is questioning every narrative we have ever told ourselves,” Santoyo said. “It’s addressing our own biases. This is a play that’s hard to just watch and not feel anything. I’m hoping [the audience] will think about where we are with one another.”
The show will run on Friday, Sept. 7 and Saturday, Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m. as well as Sunday, Sept. 9 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for the general public, and $12 for students, faculty, staff and seniors.
“I hope [audience members] leave examining their actions more as people and try to promote empathy among others,” Tebo said.