After three months of rehearsals, the Performing Arts and Social Justice (PASJ) department’s fall play, co-produced by the Associated Students of University of San Francisco College Players, will premiere this week for a four show run beginning on Thursday Nov. 2. This year’s production is “My H8 Letter to the Gr8 American Theatre.”
The play, written by queer performance artist Diana Oh in 2020, follows a protagonist entitled “Human Being: Track 1,” played by senior PASJ major Mari Quinton, who calls out problematic natures of mainstream American theater, such as white leads, Shakespeare, diversity panels, and more.
Quinton described the play as a “commentary on how the industry of theater as a whole has failed marginalized artists… As a woman of color trying to get into the theater industry – it’s very intriguing for me to hear the perspective of someone who’s entered the industry and seen it.”
Director Michelle Talgarow said, “A huge part of the play is satire, it pokes fun at all the inequities that, in the history of American theater, has happened to folks of marginalized communities.”
This is Talagrow’s third year working in the PASJ department, but she has worked in the Bay Area theater community for the past 25 years and has been a member of the Berkley-based theater company, Shotgun Players, since 2015.
“I really wanted this to be student driven,” Talagrow said, “That’s really important for me that their artistry as students – even though they’re still in this educational system, they’re artists – and I want to empower that from them.”
A live band will be performing both musical numbers and sound effects for the show. Junior media studies major Nia Bossier plays violin. Bossier described the play as “very colorful… the sounds and dances contradict what’s being said, so, it’s funny in that way, it’s ironically funny because it’s a serious topic.”
Kirra Long, a junior PASJ major, is the play’s assistant director. “My work kind of entails being a fresh new perspective on the show for our director, Michelle. I offer advice or notes that she may not have seen from a different angle.”
When asked what she was most excited for people to see, Long said, “There is one scene in the middle of the show where everything just erupts into chaos. I’m really excited to see how people will take that, because it is very much a scene where it’s like, no one really knows what they’re doing.”
Long continued, “We have a ton of amazing talent, we have beautiful, amazing actors, and the show is something that we have all dedicated the last three months of our lives to, so I think that it’s important for people to witness.”
Troy Fernandez, a senior Asian studies major plays “Goose” among other characters in the show. Fernandez said, “At first I read the script and I was like, ‘is this a little too absurd for a PASJ show?’ And then I was like, ‘no, wait, we’re actually kind of pulling it off.’ It’s a lot of fun.”
The show will be held in the Lone Mountain Main 148 Studio Theater at 8 p.m. from Nov. 2 to Nov. 5. Tickets are free with an online reservation.