Theater department reenacts ’90s L.A. riot era

Jessica Vernone

Police brutality has been one of the most controversial topics in society. The frustration of the public continually feeling justice is not being served sometimes turns into protests and riots.

The Rodney King case is one example that went down in history, causing 53 deaths and over 2,000 injuries due to riots and looting after the trial.

“Twilight: Los Angeles” is a play written and originally performed by Anna Deavere Smith in 1992. The play is about the accounts and interviews of actual people who witnessed the beating of King and the people who were effected by the riots and violence.

The Sacramento State theater department will be performing “Twilight: Los Angeles,” directed by Melinda Wilson Ramey, on campus March 11-22.

The cast is comprised of seven Sac State students, stage manager Rachel Mogan, the backstage crew, assistant stage management, the lighting team and costume designers.

“It’s a real big ensemble group effort, even if we’re not acting together, it’s a big community effort, so that’s great,” said cast member Taylor Vaughan.

This particular style of theater is different than anything Sac State has put on before.

Jordan Powell, cast member and graduating senior, likes that the play is different, giving her the opportunity to further her boundaries as an actress.

“I really enjoy being able to play a wide range of people that I wouldn’t get to portray otherwise,” said Powell. “Being a small Asian-American woman, it’s not every day I get cast as a black man. That attempt to compensate in performance for what you really can’t feign in appearance is the kind of challenge that really stretches you.”

Cast member Brody Jack Jennings said it is a whole other realm to try to impersonate real people that went through such tragic hardships, especially since each cast member has multiple characters to mimic.

“We not only have to talk like them, we have to act like them; our mannerisms, we have to copy them, we have to mimic them, we have to become this real life person, which is harder than a standard play,” said Jennings. “In a regular play you can put your own flare in it. You can create the character based around the dialogue, but in this you have to be the person, you have to be them and you can’t be any other version of them.”

“Twilight: Los Angeles” touches on the different point of views from the people who experienced the trial and aftermath. From the policemen that were involved in the beating to Black Panther leaders and a 15-year-old witness, all being different races and having different cultures in the play.

“The reason I would ‘wanna see it is that it kind of portrays different kinds of views and it’s about something that is relevant to what’s going on right now…There is still racisms that goes on between every single group,” said Vaughan. “I think it’s an eye opener to different stories, you get to see how another culture kind of takes something, because you get history, and you hear struggle, and you hear pain and you hear the excitement and joy off of something. It’s a very exciting play and I think people would love to see it for its portrayal of realistic things.”

The play brings up different topics that are relevant in society and can give the audience real accounts of what one trial and one brutal video of a beating can do to the nation.

Both Jennings and Vaughan agree anybody can find something they can relate to by seeing the play, whatever race or culture they may be, and hope people can experience good theater and raw emotion.

“The play really just reminds us of the real things that are happening in the world, and it shows us what the real people have to say about it, and not just what a playwright wrote, but what real people have to say with their experiences dealing with other races in the world,” said Jennings.