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DHS drama takes on small-town racism

Detective Joseph Ramirez (José Arzaluz) talks with Principal Katherine Reedy (Megan Orr) and journalist Aria Owens (Eseosa Edebiri) about nooses found hanging from the football field goal posts. The trio works out an investigative plan  in Davis High's drama production "The Breedless Kitsch." Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

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From page A1 | March 08, 2013 |

Check it out

What: Davis High School production of “The Breedless Kitsch,” written by DHS graduate Ben Moroski

When: 7 p.m. March 8-9 and 14-16, 2 p.m. March 10

Where: Brunelle Performance Hall at DHS, 315 W. 14th St.

Tickets: $16 adults, $8 students, available at the door or at dhsdrama.net

Many movies and television shows have been ripped from the headlines.

The Davis High School drama department follows suit with its spring play, “The Breedless Kitsch,” which premieres at 7 p.m. Friday in the Brunelle Performance Hall on the DHS campus.

The play was written by DHS and UC Davis graduate Ben Moroski and addresses racism in a city like Davis. Plotwise, its story deals with an incident where a noose is hung at the local high school after a black sophomore quarterback is given the start ahead of a white senior, and the events that follow. The play was written in response to a real-life incident where a noose was hung from a goalpost at the DHS football field in June 2012.

“When the noose was discovered hanging from the goalpost at Davis Senior High School back in June, I decided that I needed to do something,” said director and DHS drama teacher Gwyneth Bruch. “I have done many social justice pieces in my career because I believe very strongly in social justice. So I called Ben Moroski … and I asked him to write a play about racism in a town like Davis.”

The goal of the play is to inspire dialogue about racism and hate crimes in Davis.

“This play calls out some of the problems that a town like ours sweeps under the rug to have a perfect community,” said actor Megan Orr.

Bruch added: “We have an incredibly beautiful town. I love this town … and we can talk about stuff like this. And I don’t want us to become a town of bystanders who shrink from scary issues.”

The play is ensemble-oriented and doesn’t have a prominent main character. Jason, the black quarterback, is played by senior Nilesh Haile. Other principal characters include newspaper columnist/community activist Aria Owens (played by Eseosa Edibiri); Principal Kate Reedy (Orr); a 50-year-old sports columnist, Cliff Cato (Clayton Johnston); detective Joseph Ramirez (José Arzaluz); sassy high schooler Kendra (Ariane Rusanganwa); Megan Dobson (Ciara Brown); and blogger Gracie Genko (Margaret Starbuck). The play also features a Greek chorus that comments throughout.

Other major characters are played by Walter Bolle, Chris Pereira, Raquel Valdes, Rachel DeMarco, Ricky Houck and Ahmari Hayes.

“What’s interesting is that this is a predominantly white town, but the people who came out for the play are more people of color … and it’s great, because it would send a slightly different message if I had a cast that was less diverse,” Bruch said. “We’ve got a lot of first-time actors. It’s so exciting. The spirit is amazing.”

The play is co-directed by DHS graduate Dillard Brown, who was deeply involved in the drama department during his time at the school, acting in every play for the three years he was there. Brown became involved with the play after Moroski asked him to help.

“I’m pretty good friends with (Moroski), so he asked me to help Mrs. Bruch by providing insight and acting tips,” Brown said.

Bruch added: “Dillard’s place in the program was going to be acting coach, but he was helping me so much that I decided (he earned the title co-director). He is wonderful with the students.”

The play is “edgier than anything we’ve ever done,” according to Bruch. Moroski wrote the play to be accurate, powerful and realistic. It is rated PG-13.

“I hyperventilate sometimes about it, but it’s important because Ben wrote the way people talk, and it adds a power to the piece.” Bruch said.

The cast have been working for weeks and is looking forward to opening night.

“Working on it has been a lot of fun, and it’s going to be a great play,” Arzaluz said. “I think people should come and see this great piece of work that everyone’s put so much effort into.”

“The Breedless Kitsch,” will premiere at 7 p.m. Friday and also will be presented at 7 p.m. Saturday and Thursday through Saturday, March 14-16. There is a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday. Tickets are $16 for general admission and $8 for students and available at dhsdrama.net or at the door the night of the performance.

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