This past weekend, on Sat. Oct. 29 and Sun. Oct. 30, the Muhlenberg Theatre Association (MTA) held its annual Marginalized Voices Theatre Arts Festival (MVTAF), two days worth of art performed by students highlighting the disenfranchised voices on campus. From dance performances, staged readings, musical performances and more the festival once more demonstrated the need to elevate lesser-heard voices on this campus, especially within the arts. MVTAF Coordinator Bethany Qian ‘25 talked about their experience organizing the festival, and how this was their mindset in organizing this year’s festival, “As a Chinese American, queer, female theatre major, I don’t see anyone else like me on the campus, and I think it’s important for other people who don’t feel seen to have a voice and allow themselves to be seen. My hope is that MVTAF can bring awareness to affinity groups on campus, as well as provide a safe space for artists of marginalized identities.”
Inclusivity & Equity Chair of the MTA, Gabi McCabe ‘24, spoke about the festival saying, “This festival is a really truthful and vulnerable space. It’s where we get to see very personal works, celebrations of identity and often shorter works that this festival’s format lends itself to. MVTAF opens a space for the Muhlenberg community to hear the stories we might not see uplifted elsewhere.”
The festival was kicked off by a staged reading of a short play, “The Talk,” by Eric Coble and Darius Stubbs, starring Britney Bonhomme ‘24, Julianne Lucas ‘24 and Eva Schwartz ‘26 with Eli Lynch ‘25 as an understudy. The play portrayed a conversation between a white character and a Black character that is representative of how Black voices are commonly overshadowed by white voices, especially regarding issues within the Black community. Following “The Talk” was “Llorona,” a staged reading of a student-written show by Ale Cepeda Bátiz ‘23 and co-directed by Ruhani Singh ‘23 and starring Alina Hernandez ‘25, Adrián Padrón-Curet ‘26, Julian Torres ‘25, Des Suarez ‘23, Kyle Barkis ‘25, Raja Darain Khan ‘25 and Kristin Dlugos ‘26. The show told the story of a woman, Llorona, who was detained by border control and lost her children because of it while an intern tries to reconnect her with her children. Both shows were great performances that portrayed very prominent and pressing issues in our world today.
Oyinkansola Adebajo ’24 performed a self-written spoken word/rap, then shared, “This festival is important to me as a marginalized creator, since there are not many spaces that specifically focus on identity in a low competition environment. I think my performance went really well. In the future, I think MVTAF can really be a launching space for projects by marginalized people.”
Along with this, Jules Curtis ‘25 sang “Breathe” from “In The Heights” to bring some more Latinx representation to MVTAF. They remarked about how they’re “ecstatic and proud of [Qian] for putting it together! It’s a start for more opportunities for marginalized voices in the theatre world. I thought it went well! I’m very thankful that I had the opportunity to perform.”
Another performance from Danica Gullick ‘26 and Jordan Logue ‘26 with Logue performing a dance to Gullick’s poem. Logue said her “performance was about the LGBTQ+/WLW experience, and I am so glad we had the space to perform it! Our performance went really well! Everyone running the festival was super helpful and kind, and the audience was attentive and supportive!”
“This festival is important to me as a marginalized creator, since there are not many spaces that specifically focus on identity in a low competition environment.”-Oyinkansola Adebajo ’24
“[Qian] did lots of outreach to groups on campus, and were able to include some a capella and representation from affinity groups on campus. I think future festivals can hopefully build from this and include more mediums and themes of performance.” continued McCabe, mentioning the performances by a cappella groups Chaimonics, CODA, and InAcchord and how MVTAF can and will evolve in the future with more groups getting involved. Qian concluded with their hopes for the future of MVTAF as well, “My hope is that MVTAF can bring awareness to affinity groups on campus, as well as provide a safe space for artists of marginalized identities.”