The Brigham Young University Department of Theatre and Arts is putting on a play this March unlike any they've ever done before—and it’s available to view for free.
According to Julia Ashworth, a Brigham Young University professor of theatre education, this is “the first time in history BYU has done a Black play—written by a Black playwright, with a primarily Black cast.” The hope, Ashworth told BYU Arts, is that the play “can serve as a source of healing both nationally and internationally.”
The play titled North Star tells the story of a young African-American girl in the 1960s searching for her place to shine. Relia, the play’s main character, finds her innocence cut short as tensions surrounding civil rights rise in the North Carolina community. As the play’s description explains, “Relia’s parents are hotly divided between letting her participate in the demonstrations and shielding her from the harsh realities of the civil rights struggle and their community’s battle for freedom.”
The production will not only have a virtual audience, but it will also have a virtual director. Gloria Bond Clunie, the African-American playwright of North Star, will direct the play remotely from her home in the Chicago area. Prior to auditions for the show last November, Clunie spoke to BYU’s theatre arts students and explained why the North Star in the heavens is a symbol of anti-slavery because of the role it played in guiding slaves through the dark night as they sought freedom.
“It is said that conductors of the Underground Railroad, like Harriet Tubman, taught those seeking freedom how to find the North Star in the sky using the Big Dipper to guide them in the right direction,” student Sydney Southwick wrote following Clunie’s virtual workshop.
As one of the characters in the show says, “I would find it again and again, until I lost the glimmer of a star in my heart among all those tall, brightly lit buildings. The stars are faint in the sky above—but they are there . . . and tonight, before I turn out the lamp, I will hold my daughter close . . . and show her my scars. I will weep with her and let my tears wash her wounds. I will pray for her children and her children’s children, then dry her face and tell her to close her eyes. ‘Look up. There’s a whole universe of light inside us! We just have to find it.’”
The production will be live on Facebook and can be found through the following links: