Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Abigail McMurry, Acting President of Associated Students of Laney College, spoke against last-minute class cancellations at the May 14 Board of Trustees meeting.
Class cancellations, basic needs, and 'flying pigs' at 5/14 meeting for PCCD Trustees
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Student Trustee Natasha Masand believes her voice has the power to impact the PCCD community.
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Isabelly Sabô Barbosa, Social Media Editor • March 19, 2024
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Melanie Dixon appointed CoA President
Melanie Dixon appointed CoA President
After two years of acting appointments, the College of Alameda will finally fill the presidency with a permanent hire this summer
Ivan Saravia, Staff Writer • May 23, 2024
College of Alameda jazz professor Glen Pearson demonstrates his musical talent on his classroom piano. Hes one of the newest members of the Count Basie Orchestra, a historic 18-piece jazz ensemble that took home a Grammy this year.
The humble Grammy-winning pianist leading CoA’s music program
Desmond Meagley, Staff Writer • March 4, 2024
Archives

    ‘510’s’ attempt to tell Oakland’s story

    A series of vignettes give the oft unheard perspective of women of color in the Bay Area

    On March 12 the Laney Theater Arts Department will debut their newest production “The 510’s: Five Ten Minute Tales About Oakland,” the play is the culmination of two years of writing and collaboration between several Laney Theater students, and is directed by veteran thespian, and chair of the Theater Arts Department, Michael Torres. Other notable contributors are professional stage designer Nina Ball, and choreographer Jenay Anolin, both of whom are among “the best currently working in the Bay Area,” according to Torres.
    As promised by the title, the play will feature five stories that should, despite being short, prove to be potent. Taking some of its inspiration from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the play is set in the Bay Area of the present, but focuses less on the mythical and more on the all too real. The plays unofficial motto is “hurt people hurt people” — a reference to the cycle of violence that afflicts the community it portrays.
    The stories are recounted by a cast of strangers who cross paths on BART (the set even features authentic BART seats in its stage replica) and deals heavily with a range of difficult topics including loss, addiction, poverty, domestic abuse, parental hardships, and the moral ambiguity that comes with living with “the absence of love in a world where everything is a transaction.”
    510's castWhile the play features song and dance, Torres is adamant about its genre. “It has music in it, but it’s not a musical,” he said. “It’s like Oakland, sometimes you are walking down the street or in a park, and someone just breaks out into song — that’s not a musical.” The play’s experimental approach to music, however, is notable. The band is encouraged to improvise slightly during each performance of the play, and the actors are expected to adapt their performances accordingly, perhaps as a simulation of the tension, and unpredictable nature of urban life.
    Despite the heaviness of its content, the play will not be without comic relief. “We made sure there is humor,” said Torres, “because the issues are so dark, you have to.” There will also be a “Lady Gaga moment” at some point for audiences to take refuge in, if need be.
    Far from being just another college play however, “The 510’s” seeks to bridge the tenuous gap between theater and social change. Theater student Lee Ron Davis is one of the co-writers who has worked on the play since its first conception two years ago, which is also been the entirety of her time in the Laney, “It’s been a really long road,” she commented. Lee also plays “Micah,” a socially conscious young girl “who loves Oakland” but finds herself caught between her peers and the machinations of a figure known as “The Doctor,” a mysterious bridge dweller who sells a drug that intoxicates its user with forgetfulness (one is reminded of the Odyssey’s lotus-eaters) .
    It is possibly this forgetfulness, or need to forget, and avoid that “The 510’s” is trying to take aim at. “There are tons of predators, persecutors, victims, not enough rescuers,” said Torres. “Too many people don’t know they have a choice, the choice to be a rescuer,” he added. All of the “The 510’s” writers are young women, and the play is meant to be more than just a retelling of hardships, but a challenge to face them, as told from the perspective of aspiring artists who have experienced some of their own offstage.
    “The 510’s” will also be the first play in Laney’s history to have a run outside of the campus. It will be hosted by the Shotgun Players Theater group this June at their new space in Berkeley, at the site that was formerly Serendipity Books (1201 University Avenue). So while the metaphorical “Doctor” may always be tempting us with forgetfulness, it is likely that local theater enthusiasts will be remembering “The 510’s” for quite some time.


    The 510’s — Five 10 — Minute Plays Inspired by Oakland
    Odell Johnson Performing Arts Center, Laney College
    March 12th-28th
    Tickets and info:
    mtorres(at)peralta.edu
    $3 w/ school ID, $10 general admission

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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