AMERICAN MOOR Opens and Closes
The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 7
Denver, CO, February 15-19, 2016
The Kennedy Center Festival consists of 8 regions. Colleges from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Northern California, Idaho, Northern Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado make up Region 7, and students from theatre programs throughout these states converged on downtown Denver for a week of workshops, performances, competitions, and discussion on aspects of theatre from acting to scenic design, lighting design, and other elements of stagecraft.
A performance of American Moor opened the festival on Monday, 2/15, and concluded it on the following Friday. Students who had attended the performance in the Eugenia Rawls Courtyard Theatre of The King Center on The University of Denver’s Auraria Campus were compelled to talk it up throughout the week. By Friday, the play had become the prevalent buzz of the Festival. Friday’s performance was huge and powerful to the full house, and revelatory to actor and audience alike.
This was the first performance under the direction of Kim Weild, who had introduced some minor changes in tone. There was no time before Denver to dig deeply, but we were looking forward to deeper explorations when we returned to New York. We were also new to the space, a stadium like theatre in style that was still very intimate, and demanded a performance the delivery of which was much more “up and out” than what I had grown used to in smaller houses.
For students of theatre, while the social justice aspect of the play was not lost upon them, just as many seemed to be particularly taken with the idea that powerful theatre could be so simple, i.e., a bare stage, a body, some chairs, and a truth. Many voiced their realization that their theatre was waiting to be made just as simply, without the support, the permission, or approval of anything beyond themselves.
For me, Denver is as far away from home as I have taken the play in its performance life. Each new audience seems to embrace it, no matter where they are, no matter how diverse or homogenous, American Moor seems to speak to something human in all of us.
This was a week of youthful, creative energy that I surfed back to New York, where plans for the next engagement for American Moor were already underway.