CSU Ferguson goes to Washington


Isabel De Honor,

“CSU Ferguson,” Cal State East Bay’s own original production which tackles the oppression of marginalized people, will be performing a rehearsal on Feb. 17 at the University Theatre on Hayward campus.

The “CSU Ferguson” cast is preparing for their week-long trip to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) in Spokane, Wash. The show has been selected to participate in the KCACTF along with productions by Colorado State University, Spokane Falls Community College and Diablo Valley College.

The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival is a nationally recognized year-round program that hosts festivals on the state, regional and national levels. College theater students from across the nation come together in a community and in performance, encouraging inclusion and creativity. The Region 7 KCACTF will be held Feb. 19-24.

Judicators recommended the “CSU Ferguson” production to the KCACTF committee after viewing last fall’s show. The production was later reviewed and selected to perform at the festival.

“CSU Ferguson” started out as an idea by Ann Fajilan, director, and Miriam Ani, assistant director, in early 2016. “I started this because I wanted to put a face on a faceless hoodie,” Fajilan recalled. “It has become more inclusive, trying to get kids to be more active critically of what’s going on.”

Since 2016 the show has evolved into an annual production, drawing in hundreds of audience members each year. The production was not only showcased at Cal State East Bay, but also at San Jose State University. Ani hopes to expand “CSU Ferguson” to other universities in the Bay Area and eventually nationwide.

According to the KCACTF, it aims to “encourage, recognize, and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theatre programs.” The “CSU Ferguson” cast will represent the diverse community of Cal State East Bay and its title as one of the most diverse public universities in the country.

“CSU Ferguson” is an adaptive show. It is meant to tackle current social issues and give voice to people who cannot speak up for themselves. Grace Ortega, stage manager, calls the production a “devised” show.

Devised theater is a method of theater that focuses on a more collective and collaborative script. Act I of the show opens with a discussion about the sacred land of the Ohlone people that the East Bay campus falls on, followed by a plethora of skits involving capitalism, racism, homophobia and whiteness. “Act I is definitely touching on a whole bunch of different things, but once we get into Act II we hit it hard and we hit those feelings that people aren’t sure about talking about,” said Ortega. “That’s definitely what brings our Act II together. It’s the personal testimonies that are spoken up.”

Romar Lamano, a current theater major and CSU Ferguson actor, recalls the increase in cast size from the first show back in 2016 to today’s production. “Believe it or not, over 50 percent of the cast weren’t even theater majors,” said Lamano. “It was really exciting for us because it meant a lot of students stepped up even though they never had experience being on stage or performing in front of an audience. They still felt compelled to share their experiences.”