Theater based on stereotypes draws mixed reviews

By Lisa Chung

Editor’s note: N*gger, Wetb*ck, Ch*nk is sponsored by The Daily Illini at the request of its parent company, Illini Media Company.

N*gger, Wetb*ck, Ch*nk, a 95-minute production about race presented by Speak Theater Arts, performed the first of three scheduled shows on Wednesday night at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Performers Raphael Agustin, Allan Axibal and Miles Gregley use their personal experiences with stereotypes and racial slurs as the basis for the production in attempts to make a social change.

Although the show ended with some cheering audience members, some left angry.

After the show, a session with the performers and co-writers gave audience members a chance to discuss the show’s content and intent.

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People that come in with preconceived notions may not be keeping an open enough mind to give the show a chance, said Sara Goodman, freshman in FAA.

“If people come in pessimistic, they’re going to leave pessimistic,” she said. “What (the show) is doing gets dialogue started, and they should really keep (performing).”

Mirian Zambrana, graduate student, disagreed.

“I’m not sure that people who watched the play went away with the message that it was supposed to give,” she said.

The performers said that the production was an educational outlet and also an activist movement.

“We’re entertainers with an activist’s message,” Axibal said during the discussion. “We want things to be entertaining, but also be meaningful at the same time.”

Some audience members did not think the performance perpetuated stereotypes but thought it served as a satirical performance meant to belittle stereotypes.

The show was written to entertain and teach and was not intended to perpetuate stereotypes, said Steven T. Seagle, co-writer and co-director.

“I understand the difference between perpetuating the stereotypes and ridiculing them,” said Kameron Daniels, senior in LAS, who was drawn into the show because of its controversial title. “I feel like (the show) ridicules stereotypes. I thought the show was great and it accomplished what it set out to do.”

Seagle said that the shows do not perpetuate stereotypes.

“If the stereotype exists, it has to have a certain life in a society for you to even recognize that it’s a stereotype,” he said. “If you recognize the stereotype, then you knew it before you got (to N*gger, Wetb*ck, Ch*nk).”