THEA 208 (Workshop: Theatre in Diverse Cultures) students explored what happens when seven freshmen girls, all of different religious backgrounds, live together in a single, crowded space that is called supplemental housing.
Students in the course , taught by Charles Dumas , wrote a play titled “Supplemental: Can’t We All Just Get Along,” which they will perform one time for free today at 3 p.m. in 114 Theatre Building.
Dumas — a current candidate for a U.S. congressional seat — said it was written primarily by the students as they had discussed incidents that had to do with religion while in the workshop for the class, and they decided to use this discussion and make it into a play.
“One of the things that happens in the university is we learn how to get along and celebrate difference, as opposed to use it as a way to divide people,” Dumas said.
He said the play is a comedy that lasts about 40 minutes. They have been working on it in class for about a month.
There are seven religions present in the play embodied by its character: there is a Mormon, a Catholic, a Jewish person, a Buddhist, a Baptist, a Muslim and an Atheist.
In the play, each of these religions and viewpoints collide. Different arguments and situations are present, such as whose religion is better and whose holy book is right, he said.
“I think it’s important because these are difficult times and there’s a lot of misunderstanding about where people are coming from,” Dumas said. “A lot of people attribute that to religious differences, or racial or ethnic differences.”
He said learning how to get along is not easy, adding it is all about compromise. He said it is a “wonderful thing to show in a comedic way.”
Mac Schrantz plays a Mormon character named Joseph Butters.
“The way that the play is set up, you kind of have to delve into other religions that you’re not typically familiar with a lot of the time,” Schrantz (senior-integrative arts) said.
In the beginning, he said he was not familiar with too many Mormon practices, other than that they do not drink iced tea.
To research his role and to find out more about Mormonism, he talked to people he knew who were Mormon but also looked at their holy scriptures and parodies of them to see a wider view of how they are seen in society and what their practices are, he said.
He said he thinks religion serves as a way to show the community that all people have something in common, whether they fight or not.
“It shouldn’t separate people. It should bring people together,” he said.
Carshena Culmer is another student in the production. Culmer (senior-psychology and communication arts and sciences) plays a southern Baptist named Mary Smith. She said it was interesting to learn about other people and other cultures.
She said people aren’t often exposed to other people’s backgrounds and she said it was fun to investigate those backgrounds with the rest of her class.
“People should always take the time to learn about other people and to consider people who are different from them, because that’s what diversity is all about,” she said.
The class has worked on, and is currently working on, other pieces about social issues as well. There was a piece on the events that occurred on Sept. 11, and they are currently working on one about the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse case from the perspective of the students, which will debut at the end of the semester, Dumas said.