BLACKstage, a gaggle aiming to supply Black college students a group to discover theater, was not too long ago revived. The group’s first manufacturing after the revival, “Pipeline,” explored the school-to-prison pipeline and the systemic racism Black college students usually expertise.
The Stanford Every day sat down with Lee’Shae Lawson ’23, BLACKstage’s Training Chair, and Eryn Perkins ’25, the director of “Pipeline” and co-director of the upcoming manufacturing “Cinderella,” to speak about their expertise in theater and BLACkstage’s spring musical.
The Stanford Every day [TSD]: What received you interested by BLACKstage?
Lee’Shae Lawson [LL]: I wished to have an area that supported Black college students and emphasised our voices and tales within the content material of the present.
TSD: What’s the significance of getting an area that helps Black college students in theater, and the way entry to this group has impacted you?
LL: “Pipeline” was actually impactful to me. We put in a number of work, however I used to be gratified as soon as I noticed the viewers. The present actually made the influence that I wished to have: to assist Black college students have extra publicity to theater. Pipeline additionally helped bridge the hole between school and college students as a result of we had many school members within the viewers, together with the Affiliate Program Director of African and African American Research. General, having a Black-majority viewers was actually unbelievable and one thing I’d by no means seen earlier than.
TSD: What’s one factor you’re trying ahead to for the manufacturing of “Cinderella”?
LL: I like musicals. I’m actually excited to get to dive into the music and the theatricality. Our intention with “Pipeline” was extra severe and now we need to comply with up with a number of Black pleasure, an opportunity to simply exhale, letting it’s whimsical and magical. I’m actually excited to deliver that to campus, particularly throughout spring the place it’s a really magical time.
TSD: For Black college students that haven’t been in a position to have interaction with theater, what sort of recommendation would you give them?
LL: I might say — particularly with BLACKstage — you’ll be able to completely simply dive in. We now have basic conferences periodically all through the quarter. You may meet people who find themselves a part of the organizations and ask about our expertise. We now have assistant roles open, and people are one of the best ways to get your ft moist earlier than you tackle an even bigger duty. You’ll be supported and there’s no expertise needed. So simply dive in.
TSD: How did you get entangled in BLACKstage?
Eryn Perkins [EP]: I used to be a freshman final yr researching all of the theater organizations that have been on campus and I spotted that BLACKstage used to exist however not existed and that made me actually unhappy. Then I received an e mail from Lee’Shae Lawson that some persons are getting BLACKstage again collectively, and I instantly wished to be a part of this work. It’s actually essential that now we have this on campus.
TSD: How has BLACKstage helped form your expertise at Stanford?
EP: In highschool, I went to a predominantly white establishment, and that was actually reflective of my theater expertise. It felt isolating. Now that I’m at Stanford, I wished a distinct expertise. BLACKstage has helped me meet friends and different creatives that appear like me and which have experiences which can be much like me. We now have comparable experiences navigating the social and tutorial framework at Stanford, which might oftentimes be inaccessible. BLACKstage has additionally allowed me to attach with tales that I felt I used to be unable to inform in different settings, reminiscent of “Pipeline.” BLACKstage was the right firm to supply that present. It introduced collectively so many individuals of various backgrounds.
TSD: What sort of group does BLACKstage deliver to Black college students on campus?
EP: Greater than something, it’s a area to study. It’s a area for individuals of any expertise stage to come back and take part within the arts and theater in ways in which they might not have thought have been doable earlier than. It’s all about discovering your skills that you just didn’t know you had and making use of them to efficiency artwork.
TSD: What’s one factor you’re trying ahead to together with your upcoming “Cinderella” manufacturing?
EP: I’m actually excited to do one thing that’s tremendous enjoyable. Numerous occasions Black narratives within the media are centered across the extra damaging facets of the Black expertise. “Pipeline,” for instance, is in regards to the faculty to jail pipeline, and that’s one story that wanted to be informed. I’m joyful that, with “Cinderella,” we are able to merely watch younger Black individuals have enjoyable and fall in love on stage. I’m excited to see how individuals react to it. I hope that it provides individuals nostalgia to the brandy model of the film.
TSD: What recommendation would you give to somebody who needs to be concerned in theater?
EP: I might say simply strive every little thing. Become involved. A lot of the expertise and information that you just get from theater just isn’t from lessons. It’s from truly doing reveals. So simply begin asking questions. Don’t be afraid to be improper or to sound foolish as a result of the theater group actually may be very open and welcoming. Simply dive in all the way in which.