EastBay Today

Posted December 15, 2017

Cal State East Bay to Perform at Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

The university’s production of CSU Ferguson will join the Region VII lineup in 2018

"CSU Ferguson" will run one last time on the Cal State East Bay campus before the production heads to Spokane, Washington, at the invition of the Region VII Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in February 2018.

Although its run at Cal State East Bay’s Hayward campus has ended, the cast of the university’s “CSU Ferguson” is preparing to take the stage once more in 2018. Among dozens of colleges and universities in Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Northern California, Northern Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming, the production has been selected as one of three performances that will be featured at the annual Region VII Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Feb. 19-23 in Spokane, Washington.

The KCACTF was founded in 1969 and is dedicated to improving the quality of college theater in the United States. Each year, 20,000 students from more than 700 academic institutions participate in festivals across the country, recognizing student-artists through awards and scholarships for excellence in playwriting, acting, dramatic criticism, directing and design.

“It’s an honor to be chosen because the decision is made by a board of faculty from all of these other programs, and it generally means that they have recognized the quality of work being done and/or the theme — the importance of the content of the play,” said Professor Darryl V. Jones, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance. “‘CSU Ferguson’ is a compilation of scenes, monologues and dances that express the experience of oppressed people in America, ranging from issues of gender and race to sexual orientation and physical ability.”

The idea for “CSU Ferguson” began forming at Cal State East Bay through a workshop put on by director of the production, Professor Ann Fajilan, in fall 2016. In the aftermath of the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Fajilan started introducing the work of theater artists across the country into her classroom, including from organizations such as The New Black Fest and Hands Up that promote the experiences of African-American artists. 

Through that vehicle, Fajilan encouraged her students to also explore their own feelings and narratives, and to share their perspectives on the stage. The result is “CSU Ferguson” — a compilation of 20 monologues and scenes, 12 of which are original works by Cal State East Bay students. Dance Lecturer Laura Ellis also contributed by choreographing powerful dances for the play.

“This piece reflects [Professor Fajilan’s] passion and commitment and drive in working with students across the university to bring them into a shared experience of empowerment,” Jones said. “Whether it be through them telling their own stories or learning about the stories and lives of others, it’s an endeavor that expands their humanity and represents critical work on our campus and in the community.”

In addition to those who have been nominated for awards at the Region VII festival for their work on other Cal State East Bay productions throughout the year, 32 students will travel to Spokane to perform, as well as take part in workshops, seminars and attend a variety of performances.

And, in preparation for the trip, “CSU Ferguson” will be running one last time at Cal State East Bay Saturday, Feb. 17. Details forthcoming from the Department of Theatre and Dance.