Student groups holding variety show to ‘tell about the black experience’

By Amelia Blakely

Two Registered Student Organizations are collaborating to put on a show that will display student talent during a variety show titled “Black Don’t Crack.”

The show, hosted by the Africana Theater Lab and Underground Arts, will take place at 7 p.m. on Sept. 28 in Student Center Ballroom B.

Jarvell Williams, president of the Africana Theatre Lab, said the goal of the show is to showcase black students’ realities through dance, music, poetry and other performances.


“Our goal was to tell about the black experience through our art,” said Williams, a senior studying psychology from Chicago. “We are trying to portray our beauty.”

Daveon Burtin, a senior from Chicago studying theater and the vice president of the Africana Theatre Lab, said the show will tell stories that include themes of black love and black gay love.

“We want to show everyone our side,” Burtin said.

Burtin said she is representing the black LBGT community as a transgender woman. She said the high rates of death among black transgender women motivate her to represent those lost voices in her art.

“I’m ready to share my experiences,” Burtin said.

 Essence Kimball, a sophomore from Chicago studying theater who is acting in the show, said the experience has been amazing because of the talent involved.

“I love theater, and I’m excited to see what’s going to happen,” said Kimball, who has been acting since the fifth grade.


Burtin said the title and theme of the show, “Black Don’t Crack”, came about because most of the participants are African American.

“It’s a very catchy theme,” Burtin said. “When you look at it you’ll be like ‘Let me see what this is about.’”

Williams said he wrote three theatrical scenes for the show and is acting in one.

As the leader of the production, Williams said he has been able to give participants a good deal of freedom in how they choose to perform.

“My past has been about a foundation of rules, and this one we have to create the rules,” Williams said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article listed Voices of Inspiration, not Underground Arts, as one of the RSOs putting on the show. Voices of Inspiration is not involved with the production. 

Staff writer Amelia Blakely can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AmeilaBlakely. 

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