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“State of Mind”

“State of Mind”

By Derby Chukwudi

Visiting Professor of Theatre Tia Davis directed a devised play “State of Mind” which premiered on March 31 through April 8. “State of Mind” is different in that all the pieces are originally written by students who make up the ensemble with themes including love, family, relationships, death, humor, activism, and communication. The Pinnacle had the opportunity to interview the director and some cast members about the play.
Pinnacle: What led to the selection of the idea of the play and what image did you imagine for the play?

Davis: In my teens, I was fortunate to be a member of the Freddie Hendricks’s Youth Ensemble of Atlanta (YEA). YEA creates original musical dramas that tackle the challenges faced in local and global communities. My time with YEA set the foundation of my passion for the performing arts and collaborative projects. I believed a devised original ensemble production would be a good challenge for all involved. I imagined that the State of Mind production would serve as a way for the ensemble to create pieces that spoke to their creativity and concerns.

Pinnacle: How were the ensemble members selected and what were you expecting from each member?
Davis: Each ensemble member auditioned at the beginning of the spring 2017 semester by performing a 2-3 minute original poem, monologue, dance, song or musical arrangement that focused on one or more for the following themes: family, activism, love, relationships, communication and loss. After presenting their work we conversed about what it would mean to be a part of a devised production. I expected each ensemble member to have a willingness to explore and embrace the many unknowns of the production.

Pinnacle: What were the most interesting and frustrating parts of the production?
Davis: The most interesting part of the production would have to be the ensemble. They took on the challenge of creating a production that explores the different factors and forces that foster one’s state of mind. I am inspired by the work they have done and the commitment they showed to the production. The most frustrating part of the production was the exclusion of certain pieces. Some pieces that originated from the first three weeks of rehearsal were excluded from the final performance. It is my hope that some of those pieces will be further developed and shared at a later date.

Pinnacle: You mentioned that this was the first time you directed a play. What challenges did you face during this production?
Davis: The biggest challenge I faced during the production was time. For the majority of our rehearsals we did not have the entire cast. We managed to do a great deal of work leading up to the performance but there were times when we had to get creative with schedules and planning.

Pinnacle: At the end of the play, what did you expect that the audience will take away from the play?
Davis: The play ends in a way that invites conversation. I hope that said conversations will result in reflection and inspire others to create their own works and actively engage in their local and global communities.

Starry Walker ’18 said, “I am really grateful to have been a part of the student devised production ‘State Of Mind.’ Any chance that I have to get on stage and perform is a blessing. The cast is full of people with amazing energy and I am really happy to have been a beneficiary. I would like to give a special shout out to Tia Davis for being an awesome director. I don’t think I would have enjoyed this process as much as I did if it were not for her gracious and wonderful spirit.”
Jay Callahan ’18 said, “State of Mind has been a challenging creative collaboration. How our creations mesh together and complement one another constantly surprise me. The experience has been delightful and I give thanks to the ensemble and direction for that.“

“This is my first production and the experience was fun. I love being on stage; it makes me feel alive. I’m so happy that my first play was a devised piece and I got to be creative. Working with others who share the same passion with you is a blessing. You learn and grow from each other” Ricara Moorman ’20 said.

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