SYZYGY: The BLK Light Mixtape

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SYZYGY: The BLK Light Mixtape, a CSUN digital-theatre production that premiered on April 29, 2021. CSUN Theatre Professor Douglas Kaback co-directed a new theater work that could address institutionalized racism and police brutality in a contemporary way, and he solicited participation of Anthony Valadez and Sean Hill, a fellow CSUN Theatre alum who starred in Blasting Holes throughout its run nearly two decades ago. Hill and Valadez both signed on to the idea of collaborating on a totally new production with CSUN students in 2021, and at the beginning of the spring semester they went to work conceiving the piece with Kaback and fellow Theatre professor J’aime Morrison. Morrison was a natural choice to co-direct with Kaback given her expertise in devised theatre, a creative method chosen for this project in which a script evolves from collaborative, exploratory ensemble workshops. In devised theatre, ideas emerge directly from participants as they discuss lived experiences, and those disparate stories are woven into a script that honors individual voices within an arcing narrative. Nine students signed on to the production. To guide them through complex emotions during workshop sessions, Morrison and Kaback brought in psychotherapist and theatre artist Hector Aristizábal, a master in Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) techniques. In general practice, TO blurs lines between audience and actor through happenings calibrated to promote social and political change and healing among oppressed populations. Unlike devised theatre, TO is typically not focused on developing a script for a formal performance, yet its sensibilities resonate strongly with Morrison and Kaback’s devised theatre project.

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