Unchained Theatre Collective

Performance Spotlight

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This past Thursday night marked the first performance of the year by the Unchained Theatre Collective. Their showcase featured performers from different backgrounds of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and age, creating a diverse platform for students to use different forms of performing art to discuss their identity. Performers were given the task to take a specific performance piece, whether it was a song, poem or monologue, and use it as their identity.

Opening the performance was Sophia Echevarria ‘21, performing the classic ballad from Fame, “Out Here On My Own.” Halfway through the song, Echevarria was literally left out on her own when her track buffered. Instead of stopping her performance though, Echevarria pushed through and finished her performance even stronger than she started. When asked how she recovered from losing her music, Echevarria simply responded, “It’s happened to me before. I think the main focus is just [to] keep going.”

Acknowledging that she elevated her energy level, Echevarria said, “I definitely felt in that moment, I had to pick it up.” She also acknowledged how the song fit with the showcase’s theme, saying, “That song has been with me ever since I found it my freshman year of high school.

If you listen closely to the words, every single word, and if you listen to the musical Fame, it’s just very vulnerable and the song is vulnerable.

It just builds and there’s a delicateness at the end. I love it so much. And that’s also why it was so easy to keep going because I know it like the back of my hand.”

Following Echevarria’s performance were an original poem titled “Dismantle” by Kelly Steltz ‘21; slam poetry “Change” by Connor Baker ‘22; Lianne La Havas’ song “Unstoppable” performed by Celeste Samson ‘22 and her ukelele; “Skeleton Dance,” an original poem by Cece Ruvinksy ‘21; Nicole Morris ‘21 performing a monologue from For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/when the rainbow is enuf; Xavier Pacheco ‘19 and his original rap “Little Bit”; and Dalissa Duran ‘19  performing “Hair,” a spoken-word piece written by Elizabeth Acevedo.

Speaking with some students after the performances, many felt that it was refreshing to see so many diverse people represented. Avital Zemel ‘22  said, “I thought it was good and interesting to hear different people’s perspectives on different issues.”

Rebeka Jofre ‘21 added, “I liked it; a lot of the stuff that was said in the performances impacted me personally and I could relate to some of it so I thought it was really cool.”

Unchained Theatre Collective president Amisha Datta ‘21 provided some perspective after the performances on the purpose and history of the group. “Last year was our first year. I think that we needed this outlet, so it’s nice to see that it can happen and people show up and enjoy themselves.” Speaking to the performance’s attendance, Datta said, “I was really happy with it! Last year we only had one showcase, and that was well-attended, so I wanted to make sure people showed up this year. Our PR made posters, we did our best to spread the word and people came out. You have to give them credit; people care about this kind of stuff.”

Datta also provided insight on how performances like these affect the social culture at Muhlenberg. “It helps with representation on campus. There’s a lot of people here who are, for lack of a better phrase, people of color on campus.

We are performers, we write, just like all the other creators on campus.

We don’t always feel like there is an outlet, so I don’t think it’s necessarily changing the world, but it’s providing a space for people who are already here to show up. It’s not creating people, it’s spotlighting them, centering people who never get centered.”

Looking towards the future of Unchained Theatre Collective and the possibility of more students getting involved, Datta said, “We are a space; we provide performance opportunities. We also provide space for people who write, if you want to cast your own one-act play or a monologue you want someone to perform, anything like that. We regularly have conversations, and we’re trying to find more people to teach workshops on campus.”

To learn about and support Unchained Theatre Collective, follow them on Facebook and Instagram at Unchained Theatre Collective.

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