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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Club Profile: Unity Clap Theatre

Theatre is one of the most creative forms of expression. It encompasses all types of artistic talent, acting, dance, singing and even visual arts. It is a way for people to express themselves and address important issues. Unity Clap Theatre, a new theatre club on campus, uses performing arts as a way of spreading their message and bringing awareness to important issues.

They are unique from other theatre groups on campus because they focus on multicultural plays. Unity Clap Theatre club started just this quarter. A group of friends came up with the idea last spring and spent the summer planning to turn it into a real club.

“We’re all in the same friend circle, we talked and found a similarity that every person goes through: a struggle or issue that other people don’t see unless they tell them about it,” said Nam Pham, public relations manager and senior human development major. “They might be made fun of or identified in a way that wasn’t appropriate. We felt like if we just tell ourselves in this friend circle about these problems, it’s getting nowhere and we need to tell the world.”

Luckily they were able to transform their ideas into an actual club with specific goals and messages. Every quarter, they will produce a student-written play or a professional play written by a minority playwright. The play produced each quarter will focus on a certain ethnic group and the struggles they go through. They will also address other types of discrimination such as sexism, homophobia and minority perspectives. Unity Clap Theatre club hopes this gives minorities a voice to express themselves and provide opportunities for others to learn.

“Not only are we using the performing arts as a tool to raise awareness of discrimination but we also want to teach the community about the different types of discrimination,” said Felix Cuma, president and senior dramatic arts major. “That way everyone can join. It’s not just for minority students, it’s for everyone.”

Anyone who is interested in theatre or the message that the club expresses can submit a playwright proposal and it will be transformed into an act on stage. The piece can be anything from a play, to a skit, to a song or even a poem. These events are not limited to acting; there are a variety of ways to express these ideas through performance. Additionally, people who are interested in directing, stage managing, lighting, etc. can also contribute to the productions the club puts on.

The first production the club will put on is a one-act play written by UC Davis Chicano students. Cuma came up with this idea after taking a Chicano Theatre course over the summer.

“The play is about how Chicano students go through different struggles such as discrimination, stereotyping, racial profiling and how those struggles pull them down and almost prevent them from continuing their school. It’s a distraction [and] an obstacle for their studies,” Cuma said.

But that is only half the performance. The second part will be improvisation skits written by other students. They held auditions this week for this part of the performance. It will be performed during Winter quarter.

In addition to their performances, Unity Clap Theatre also holds bimonthly meetings on Wednesdays in 101 Wright Hall, which is also where they will perform. Each meeting will have a different cultural topic, such as Chicano Theatre, Asian American Theatre, etc. Everyone is welcome to attend the meetings and contribute to the discussion. The meetings will also teach background of the topics if people are not informed about them.

“Personally, I think this club is way different and interesting because we already had our first meeting and even people who are non-theatre [majors]had so much fun too,” said Keyla Suntistbun, vice president and sophomore women studies and dramatic arts major. “Theatre is a form of expression and so for us [it is a way] to express ourselves in front of everyone and to expose ourselves; it’s a pretty big deal; it’s a way to let ourselves go and show who we are and connect with people.”

Unity Clap Theatre uses theatre to bring awareness to issues of discrimination, ethnicity and identity. Although it is a new club and ideas are still developing, this is the main goal. It will bring people of all backgrounds and circumstances together.

“I’m excited for our productions to be on stage and to see that the audience had learned something from our performances. That they are more aware about struggles and issues that go on everyday,” Cuma said.

PAAYAL ZAVERI can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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