Introducing the R&J Project: Seeking Common Ground

(02-22-2011)

Editorial by Dr. John Taylor

Can love rescue what hate threatens? It is a question that is as old as human existence itself and an issue central to our lives today. On behalf of the Adams State College Theatre Program, I am pleased to invite you to participate in The R &J Project: Seeking Common Ground. Taking place this spring, the project will examine the role of conflict, reconciliation, and forgiveness in our lives. I don't how you feel, but it seems to me that our country and world has entered into an era of increased uncivil discourse and occasional actual violence. Conflict can be healthy and a necessary aspect of a democratic society, but it can also divide and destroy. How we choose to deal with our differences and disagreements will determine the kind of lives we lead as well as the character of our country.

Will we choose to celebrate not only the ties that bind us together but also the differences that distinguish us? Or, we will let misunderstandings, ignorance, and fear guide our actions? Will we hate or love each other?

Through "The Laramie Project", "The Dead Man Walking Project", and the "Fahrenheit 451 Project", our community has created exciting cultural events that rival those in major cities. In the process, we have explored together issues of the utmost importance to our society. With "The R &J Project", we will once again use the power of performance as a catalyst for community-wide discourse.

Our project takes its name from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet". As the capstone of the project, I am directing a production of this classic play that will run April 29 through May 8 in our Main Stage Theatre. If there is any play that serves as a cautionary tale about the destructive power of conflict, this is it!

In addition to the stage play, we have planned a variety of educational and community-oriented events.

Highlights of the project include:

  • an after-school program focusing on creative solutions to conflict resolution in which ASC Theatre students will work with youth in the PALS program;
  • a March 7 workshop called "Step Up: Act Out" which will be hosted by the ASC Theatre Program and the Center for Restorative Programs. The event will teach high school peer-mediators ways to incorporate creative dramatic techniques into their work;
  • a one-night only performance on March 26 of the new play "The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later" featuring a reunion of ASC Theatre alumni who starred in the 2002 \production of "The Laramie Project";
  • religious services at many SLV places of worship during the weekend of March 27 which will focus on conflict, forgiveness, and reconciliation;
  • a community-wide interfaith forum on April 9 in which religious leaders will discuss how their faith teaches them to view conflict and reconciliation. The forum will feature a panel discussion, a scene from "Romeo and Juliet", poetry, music, and more. Free to the public;
  • matinee performances of "Romeo and Juliet" for SLV high schools that will feature an innovative post-show talkback with students;
  • a benefit performance for the Center for Restorative Programs that will occur on the opening night of "Romeo and Juliet".

Can love rescue what hate threatens? I hope so - our future depends on it.