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Multicultural theater offers unique outlet for K-State students

By Rachel Potucek

 

Originally created to produce plays by African-American playwrights using African-American actors, Kansas State University's Ebony Theater offers students much more than diverse theater, said Keenan Ramos, vice president of the organization. Ebony Theater gives students a chance to develop and produce award-winning theater productions.

"Our main goal is to produce good theater," Ramos said. "No matter what races are in the cast, we want to stay true to the script and give minority actors an outlet for good theater."

Since its inception in 1977, Ebony Theater remains the only multicultural theater program in the Midwest. K-State stands out from other Midwestern schools because it has a high percentage of African-American students majoring in theater, Ramos said.

"We love theater and we want to keep this tradition up," he said.

Any student is eligible to join Ebony Theater and Ramos said he hopes the organization will expand to include more integrated casts.

"We can never learn from each other if we always work with the same type of theater," he said.

The student-run program receives funds from K-State's Fine Arts Council to produce one play each year. Ramos describes Ebony as "collaborative theater" where students get to pick the play and the director. Last year, Ebony Theater produced "Mancherios," a play written by Nathan Jackson, senior in theater. Jackson was named Best African-American Playwright at the 2003 American College Theater Festival, an annual competition for college theater majors; more than 200 people compete in the Midwestern division each year.

'Mancherios' had an integrated cast, and it was very successful at the American College Theater Festival," Ramos said.

Although anyone is invited to join Ebony Theater, Ramos said he looks for a special quality in each Ebony Theater member: "A love for theater. Respect for the art."

Fall 2003