‘White Privilege’ selected to perform at Kennedy Center of American College Theater Festival

White+Privilege+received+the+Citizen+Artist+Award.%0A%0APhoto+courtesy+of+Cambry+Getter

White Privilege received the Citizen Artist Award. Photo courtesy of Cambry Getter

“White Privilege,” a theater production written by Malaina Moore, a junior in the College of Communication performed at the Region III Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Madison Jan. 10 and Jan. 11.

“Malaina wrote this play in response to many of the stories and reactions to social media posts about race and white privilege,” said Stephen Hudson-Mairet, scenic and production designer of “White Privilege” and associate professor of digital media and performing arts. “The play helps the audience understand that white privilege exists and this is not a commentary that is ‘anti-white,’ but rather a commentary on how people perceive each other.”

The festival aims to identify and promote quality in college-level theater production, Hudson-Mairet said.

Debra Krajec, director of “White Privilege” and artistic associate professor of digital media and performing arts, said schools can enter productions for consideration to perform at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. A team of respondents attends one performance of every participating production across the region and then meets in to consider all entries. Five to six productions are selected to perform at the festival.

The cast and crew had a public final dress rehearsal Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. in Weasler Auditorium to allow the cast one more performance with the audience before they went to Madison Wednesday morning to get ready for the show.

Hudson-Mairet said Moore wrote the play for her acting class her sophomore year while her acting group was looking for a piece the class could perform. The group was not satisfied with the options prior to Malaina’s piece due to the limited number of roles for people of color.

“After I saw a performance, I suggested to our faculty that we consider providing Malaina with a ‘real-world’ playwriting experience by using funding from the Phylis Ravel Theatre and Social Justice Fund to hire a professional team of actors, a dramaturge and a director to work with her during the summer to improve her play,” Hudson-Mairet said.

The Phylis Ravel Theatre and Social Justice Fund supports student works and departmental programming for social justice projects.

Moore said the professionals she worked with provided her feedback on the script that allowed for immense growth through many drafts and consultation with a number of trusted advisers.

“I wanted the play to be informative but also have a strong black voice,” she said.

Moore said the edited version of the show was added to the Marquette Theater season and performed over Labor Day weekend in 2018 to three sold-out houses.

Moore will also be entering the script into a playwriting competition at the regional festival that will be judged separately from the performances. She is eligible for national playwriting awards through the competition.

Krajec said the process of directing was difficult. She said she felt inadequate at some points to explain some scenes that had to do with the sufferings of people of color. She credited the combined efforts of Marquette students and faculty to help bring this play to life.

“The cast is all theater students this time around, although there have been a few casting changes since our September shows,” Krajec said. “The design and stage management and crew members are made up of faculty member Stephen Hudson-Mairet along with theater arts students who help make the production possible.”

Krajec said she learned a lot about white privilege herself from Malaina and the cast. She said she hopes this play will increase conversation to make a change for the better.

“Theater as an art form has the power to make us reflect on our own lives,” Hudson-Mairet added. “It holds up a mirror to our lives, and what we do with what we see in that mirror after we leave the theater is the important part.”