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Candace Nicholas, left, Kamra Jacobs and James Ellison star in North Star, the Theatre and Dance Department’s first production of the year.
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It’s not easy coming of age at the dawn of the Civil Rights movement. But 11-year-old Relia Taylor not only has the strength and courage to endure the struggle; she plays an active role in it. Over her mother’s objections, Relia participates in the 1960 lunch counter sit-ins in North Carolina.
North Star is Sacramento State’s first play of the 2007-08 season, and the play’s California premiere. It tells the story from the perspective of the adult Relia, Aurelia, who relives her past struggles.
Directed by University professor Dr. Melinda Wilson, the production will include a special appearance by the playwright, Gloria Bond Clunie.
The play runs Oct. 11-14 and Oct. 17-21. Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Performances are at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 17 and 18. All other performances are at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 general admission; $10 for students, faculty, staff, and senior citizens; and $8 for children 11 and younger. The Oct. 17 and 18 performances are $8 general, student, faculty, staff and senior citizens and $5 for children. Tickets are available at (916) 278-4323 or at www.tickets.com
Clunie will conduct a playwriting workshop the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 19 and then answer questions from the audience following the evening performances on Oct. 19 and 20.
Clunie’s appearance is being underwritten by California Musical Theatre, producer of Music Circus and Broadway Sacramento. CMT is serving as a partner in North Star, providing rehearsal notes, posters, fliers and other support.
The actors have wasted no time in developing their characters.
Brooklynn Solomon, a recent theatre department graduate, returned to take the part of the adult Aurelia. “I loved the idea that she was going back through her memories to find what gave her the strength as a child to persevere,” Solomon says.
Her 11-year-old counterpart, Relia, is played by 19-year-old Kamra Jacobs, a Sacramento State junior. Jacobs says she’s called on her own childhood memories to help get in character, and notes that Relia is very strong-minded and courageous to want to take part in the lunch-counter demonstrations, despite being afraid of the dark.
Relia’s mother, Kate, is played by Sacramento State sophomore and theater major Candace Nicholas. Kate is a conservative, intelligent and respectable woman who’s overprotective of her family, Nicholas says. “She wants to see a change happen, however she doesn’t want her family to be the one to actually implement the change,” Nicholas says.
Despite the serious subject matter, Wilson points out there is also a lot of humor in North Star. “There are some very comical moments in it,” Wilson says. “It’s part of the African-American experience. It’s the music, and the laughter through tears that have enabled African Americans to continue.”
For more information, call the Theatre and Dance Department at (916) 278-6368. For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.