Spoken word poetry, song, dance, film and staged readings lit up the Cafritz Foundation Theatre in The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center Thursday night as Kreativity Diversity Troupe presented their end of semester showcase.
The showcase, titled “What Falls from the Tree,” was a presentation centered on the theme of nature versus nurture — a question that debates whether a person’s characteristics are formed by biological factors or their upbringing and circumstances. The entire production was student-led.
The diversity troupe began as a group called Voices of Color in 1995, provided a way for Black students in the University of Maryland’s theatre, dance and performance studies school to express their creativity and put on performances. The club has since expanded to include any student who is interested in performing.
Sophomore psychology and theater major Drew Okoye, who is an assistant artistic director for Kreativity, performed a spoken word poem at the showcase, called “Angry Black Woman,” which centered on the negative representation of Black women in the media.
Okoye hopes Kreativity can connect back to its roots and create more works of art that uplift Black voices.
“It used to be like a really important meaningful thing for people of color,” Okoye said. “I’m really dedicated to bringing the group back to that.”
Deep red lights on the stage enhanced the power of Okoye’s performance. Multiple Black women came together to read Okoye’s piece, crescendoing in a chant of “we are full of rage.”
Sophomore elementary education major Julia Feller dedicated the monologue she performed in the showcase to her complex feelings about being detached from her Filipino culture.
Feller’s mother didn’t expose her to certain aspects of Filipino life, and she has felt the impact of “being censored” from that part of her identity, she said.
“I never saw much Filipino stuff growing up, or heard about what they go through,” Feller said. “I wanted to showcase that the Filipino culture is still very important.”
Her performance showcased a dichotomy between showing gratitude toward her mother and longing to know the culture she has been closed off from.
Okoye and Feller also appeared in a piece about the shift in relationships between parents and children. The pair danced to “Never Grow Up” by Taylor Swift, which another member of the troupe performed live.
The performance portrayed a touching representation of what the parent-child dynamic is really about. It showed that even after all the disobedience and longing for independence children experience in their adolescence, they will always need their parents.
To end the performance, the troupe performed a scene called “Good Girls Are…” The performance touched on the pressures society places on young woman. During the scene, the main character is getting so much unsolicited input that she has a mental breakdown.
Aida Nyabingi, a freshman theater and sociology major, wrote the scene.
“It’s hard to please everyone in your life and you can’t be the perfect image of, like, 10 people’s version of you,” Nyabingi said. “I just wanted the audience to remember that there’s so much that goes into a person.”