Diversity Takes Center Stage in Student-Produced Play
November 7, 2016
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Alexis Brown loves theater. She loves acting. She loves singing and dancing. She even loves working backstage. This year, Alexis is taking her passion for drama one step further; she is putting on Flushing High School’s first student-produced play.
“I’ve always wanted to do my own show… I have a vision,” Alexis explained. And she is taking charge of this “vision,” serving as director, producer, supporting actor, and playwright. The play, according to the FHS senior, is entitled Miss Man and based off of the public domain Shakespeare comedy Twelfth Night, a tale of mistaken identity, alter egos, and love triangles. Miss Man isn’t exactly as the Bard pictured his play however; it is set in 1930s Hollywood and contains a very diverse cast.
A diverse cast was a major factor in Alexis deciding to put on an independent, student-run production. “The school has a habit of typecasting,” Alexis believes, observing that it seems the same few students get the lead parts in show after show. Alexis’s “right hand,” Syd Brown (no relation) agrees. The FHS junior was in charge of casting Miss Man and said “We have a lot of talent in Flushing that rarely gets showcased… our cast is very diverse. We have people of color in our cast, and some transgender actors. We have lesbian, gay, and bisexual actors. We have a lot of people doing a show for the first time. And it looks really promising. I’m excited.”
Alexis and Syd aren’t trying to alienate themselves from more conventional theater programs though. Both plan on appearing in school productions this year and say they have learned from other programs. Alexis said Mrs. Stacey Daniels of the Drama Club taught her the importance of diversity. Mr. Mike Hamilton, who runs the International Thespian Society, has taught her patience. Directors at the Flint Youth Theater have taught her professionalism. But most of all, Alexis says she draws inspiration from her “favorite Broadway person, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who not only ‘broke Broadway’ with Hamilton, but paved the way for actors of color… that was my biggest inspiration, to break social norms.”
Miss Man is set to premier in the High School Auditorium in February and, in the meantime, Alexis says her stress levels are at an “8.5 out of 10,” but believes the stress is paying off. “I hope people come to see it,” she says, “It’s going to be a great show and a great experience for the school.”