ACHS Presents “Facing Our Truth: 10 Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race and Privilege”

Reagan Bradshaw

Staff Writer

Friday, November 5 was the opening night for the Alexandria City High School Theater Department’s latest production, “Facing Our Truth: 10 Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race, and Privilege.” The production consisted of six 10-minute plays related to the death of Trayvon Martin and the verdict in the trial of the man who killed him, George Zimmerman.

The purpose of the six, short plays, commissioned by The New Black Fest and written by six different playwrights, was to spur serious discussion on important issues like racial inequality and systematic oppression.

The production was directed by Leslie Jones, a drama teacher at ACHS. Jones stated that she hopes the six short plays, which focus on issues of race and equality, start a dialogue with the audience around social justice issues. Jones stated that along with the COVID-19 pandemic, “We were also witnessing a racial pandemic… I knew the next time I directed a fall play it would have to be a social justice play.”

While staging a theatrical performance is never without its challenges, Jones lamented that even casting the production proved to be difficult. While she began actively advertising for the production in August, casting enough black students to portray all of the black characters was particularly frustrating.

In describing the efforts she undertook to find a cast, Jones explained that “We advertised by Canvas for King Street and Minnie Howard, Everyday Titan, (the old title, now it’s called the Morning Announcements), English department teachers, ACPS Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Athletics, Black Student Union, our classes, music department teachers, theatre department fall play and spring musical Canvas courses, theatre department social media, the PTSA Town Crier newsletter, and an email to Chance for Change and Satellite, personally.”

As a female, African-American drama teacher, Jones stated that she was particularly frustrated in the initial lack of interest among minority students after all of her efforts to reach out. “I’m so disappointed and upset,” she stated.

While several white students tried out for the play, Jones explained that they were uncomfortable portraying black characters, particularly given that the six plays focus on struggles faced by the black community. Jones said that she respected their decision not to participate and, after a significant amount of hard work, was finally able to find enough minority students willing to play all of the minority characters.

Jones looked forward to the production opening and hopes it is successful in raising the audience’s awareness of social justice issues.

The production was held in the ACHS auditorium and ran from November 5 through 13.

Photo courtesy of Claudine Sangaré