Unmuted - Amplify: BIPOC Virtual Short Play Series
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The second offering in First Stage’s new Amplify – BIPOC Virtual Short Plays Series will be UNMUTED, a lively new musical by First Stage Playwright in Residence Alvaro Saar Rios, with Music and Lyrics by composer Deborah Wicks La Puma and directed by Anna Skidis Vargas, Producing Artistic Director for Theatre Nuevo in St. Louis. This Amplify production explores the question: what happens when the substitute gym teacher is kicked out of the Zoom Room of a virtual gym class and the students take over? Performed in English with some Spanish lyrics, audiences will want to unmute their streaming devices to enjoy this fun and timely virtual play, to which we all can relate. Recommended for families with young people ages 10+. Approximate running time is 15 minutes.
First Stage developed this new series to offer virtual short plays created by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) playwrights that center on the young person’s point or view, amplifying the voices of these artists and young people throughout the Milwaukee community. The organization has had a long history of age-appropriate casting and of centering its work on the young person’s point of view. Understanding the power of connection that young people feel when they see themselves and their stories on stage, First Stage is excited to begin this series featuring newly commissioned work from BIPOC playwrights and directors.
UNMUTED streams now – May 30, 2021. Each play in the Amplify series will be available on the First Stage YouTube channel. Audience members are encouraged to register to receive the link to each play prior to its premiere. While making a donation is not required for streaming access, all gifts received will help to support the artists involved in the Amplify series and First Stage’s commitment to building an inclusive community. To learn more and to register, please go to: https://www.firststage.org/amplify
“UNMUTED is a musical about what happens when the substitute teacher gets kicked out of the Zoom Room in a virtual gym class and students take over,” said Director Anna Skidis Vargas. “They play the game “SorD” (Secret or Dare) and learn about each other’s lives on the other side of the screen – their loud parents, love of tacos, Spanish class and all of the other things we miss about school in pre-pandemic life.”
Added playwright Alvaro Saar Rios, “This piece was inspired by my own son taking class online. Because we turned this into a musical, we wanted to highlight certain things – I don’t want to say make fun of – but more at least say, ‘We see you.’”
“The lyrics are in both Spanish and English, or Spanglish, as I grew up speaking in my household,” shared Composer/Musical Director Deborah Wicks La Puma. “I hope it’s something that families that are watching together feel is a reflection of living across multiple languages and cultures.”
Artistic Director Jeff Frank also commented: “I’m excited about the Amplify series, because we recognize that our young audiences connect more deeply to our productions when they see other young people on stage – when they see their lives represented in the stories we tell. Because we see the power in that connection, it is imperative that we continue to advance our efforts to ensure that as theater artists all of our programming is reflective of our community – through the stories we share and the programs we implement – and the teams we assemble to bring those stories and programs to life – and that we hear from and listen to the varied voices that make up this community.”
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