University News

Students Present French Play Adapted for Black Theatre

April 28, 2005

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MACOMB, IL - - Western Illinois University students enrolled in the French 251 Play Production class will present three performances of Aimé Césaire’s “Une tempête” in the University Union Sandburg Theatre, April 29 and May 1-2.

The stage production adapted for Black Theatre and based on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” will be presented in French with English subtitles. Play times are scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday, April 29; 8:30 p.m. Sunday, May 1; and 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 2. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to show times. The play is open free to the public.

Presented in conjunction with the Indigenous Africa and Diaspora Discourse Project lecture series, the play is directed by Iván Jiménez-Williams, assistant professor of Spanish and French, with narration by Safoura Boukari, associate professor of African American Studies.

Central to the play are the civil rights issues in the U.S. during the 1960s. Although Aimé Césaire was from Martinique, he was concerned about the plight of the oppressed worldwide, Jiménez-Williams explained.

The villain Prospero represents the slave master, and the hero Caliban represents the slave who keeps struggling to attain his freedom in a vicious system that drains and brutalizes both the enslaver and the enslaved. In the end, Caliban’s song, “Liberty! OH-AY! Liberty!” echoes a strong voice that demystifies the self-proclaimed authority of the colonizer.

“The apocalyptic vision and symbolic fusion of master/servant, Prospero and Caliban, reflects human helplessness and commonality in face of natural disaster: “You-me. Me-you.” The end of the play also represents the current state of a world that projects the status quo, and an apparent stability, despite multiple cosmic environmental and socio-economic signs of instability,” said Jiménez-Williams. “Hence, in keeping with this year’s University theme of Civic Engagement, the play advocates the need to address civil rights issues in our communities and throughout the world.”

Play sponsors include WesternÂ’s departments of foreign languages and literatures, African American Studies and theatre; Casa Latina, WESTEC, the University Art Gallery and the Center for International Studies.

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