Theater students to participate in Martin Luther King Jr. Day programming

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Theatre program 
Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 performed in the fall of 2015

GVL / Courtesy – GVSU Theatre program Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 performed in the fall of 2015

Marissa LaPorte

Offering multiple perspectives and reactions of well-known and unknown individuals alike to the acquittal of four Los Angeles police officers charged with assaulting Rodney King, excerpts from the theatrical performance “Twilight Los Angeles: 1992” are returning to Grand Valley State University. Free showings of this production are being held in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and his efforts.

Michael Mueller, director of “Twilight Los Angeles: 1992,” said that this production acts as a good starting point for further discussion regarding police brutality, racism and how the reactions to events that occurred in 1992 compare to modern day reactions to similar events.

“(‘Twilight Los Angeles: 1992’) touches on a lot of the current issues that are going on in the country,” Mueller said. “(The production) provides students with real accounts of individuals who have been either on the fringe or directly involved in the events that are similar to contemporary events.”

Excerpts from “Twilight Los Angeles: 1992” will be shown on Jan. 18 from 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. and from 2:30 p.m. until 4 p.m. in Kirkhof Center Room 2263. “Twilight Los Angeles: 1992” was performed in its entirety last semester, but these free showings will be chosen excerpts from the production, acting as a breakout session in correlation with GVSU’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities.

Bobby J. Springer, associate director of GVSU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, worked with Mueller to include showings of “Twilight Los Angeles: 1992” as a part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day programming.

“We’re still dealing with some of the same situations many years later and I think this will remind people that we still have work to be done when it comes to everybody getting along, working together and making these communities the best place for everyone,” Springer said. “‘Twilight Los Angeles’ will remind us that some of these things are still happening and we have to do a better job.”

Mueller said that the performance of “Twilight Los Angeles: 1992” challenges definitions of ethnicity and gender because the student actors take on the roles of individuals of different genders and ethnicities than their own. The audience is then challenged to focus on the message being presented more than who is speaking.

“(’Twilight Los Angeles’) communicates that there is a natural, inherit prejudice that people have that sometimes goes unnoticed,” Mueller said. “It indirectly highlights micro-aggressions that can be shared with good intentions, but unfortunately with negative consequence. It has been great to see the (student actors) tackle their own pre-conceived notions and get over stereotypes and find ways to empathize with individuals who are outside of who (the students) would normally associate with.”

Regarding Martin Luther King Jr.’s message, Springer said that as a community and a society we have to work together, live together and get along together as well as get to know one another, rather than making judgements based on what someone looks like.

“We have to communicate with one another when situations are difficult,” Springer said. “We can’t just react. Sometimes you have to go deeper to get the meaning of a situation. Sometimes we look at things from the surface and we see things that may not be true, but if we take time to learn more about that situation, we find out (the truth).”

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