This past weekend I attended the Utica College production of, Tried by Twelve or Carried By Six. The play was actually written and directed by Shannon Enders, a professor of Theater right here at Utica College! The production detailed the lives and stories of police officers, firemen, and citizens pertaining to the issue of human rights, specifically focusing on the #blacklivesmatter movement.
The production boasted a cast full of talented student actors that were brave enough to tackle some heavy storylines pertaining to race issues. The play detailed riots, gun violence, racism, and the actions taken by police officers while in the field. While the issues were heavy, the play never felt too somber; there were a few “well-timed” funny moments which helped to carry the play. While the play did focus on the severity of scenes depicted, it did not completely stray from humoring the audience.
My favorite storyline focused on a young black woman who was cleaning up after a riot. She was upset and exclaiming how the people who were sabotaging the firemen and police were actually sabotaging their community’s own safety. She was upset and was ranting about how individuals that were choosing to riot were actually harming their own neighbors. Yet, the delivery of the lines was comical at times. There were moments when she would aggressively start sweeping in time with her angry musings, and she would complain about how stupid the individuals were. It felt very real. The actress portraying the individual was only a freshman! Her acting abilities were quite impressive.
Actually, the entire cast was very impressive. Each student had all of their lines memorized, and were able to realistically portray intense situations and characters, which is no easy task.
After the production, audience members were invited to discuss the scenes that they had seen throughout the show. It was actually revealed during this discussion that several audience members were actually the policemen or firemen that had their stories portrayed in the play. Shannon Enders, the author, had interviewed people from the surrounding areas to get their take on issues and to hear their stories. During the discussion, an older gentleman actually raised his hand and discussed his storyline that was portrayed in the play.
Being able to actually hear from the people that the production was based on was an amazing experience. Hearing first hand about such poignant issues such as race and racism from people that actually experienced it was memorable and my favorite thing about the production.
While the run of the play might be over, the theater department puts on a production every semester! So, I strongly encourage everyone to attend the play for the next semester! (Or audition!) If the next play is anything like this past one, it is sure to be a hit!