On March 23, MAPA’s Racial Justice Working Group sponsored a performance of Circle Up (Playwright: Betsy Bard; Director: Vincent Ernest Siders), performed by Central Square Theater’s Youth Underground at Hibernian Hall in Roxbury. Joined by a diverse audience from Boston and its surrounding towns, MAPA members participated in a memorable performance and discussion about the causes and results of the ‘achievement gap’ in U.S. schools and communities.
Youth Underground is an ensemble that creates and performs investigative theatre. Unlike a traditional play with a single storyline, investigative theatre is based on a single issue or phenomenon, illustrated in the voices of the many individuals who have influenced, or been influenced by, the event. In Circle Up, Youth Underground cast members presented the voices of students, parents, teachers, city officials and others whose actions and experiences illuminated a system of schooling that fails to offer the same educational and social opportunities to all students. Narratives used in the play were collected from interviews and community forums with educators from public and private K-12 schools, as well as colleges and universities.
MAPA’s sponsored production of Circle Up was shown to a full house. The play – which is often shown in high schools and colleges in the Boston area – included a ‘talk back’ that engaged audience members and the cast in a discussion about the vignettes themselves and the relationship between oppression at home – as demonstrated by the play – and abroad.