New FAU theater organization aims to teach students about Black culture through plays, events

Beginning this Spring, The Black Undergraduate Theatre Collective will host plays and events to teach the FAU community about Black culture.

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The five founders of the Black Undergraduate Theatre Collective. Photo courtesy of Corey Rose

Nichole Meyer, Contributing Writer

FAU student Corey Rose says when he steps into some classrooms, he can’t help but feel unsettled. Rose and four other Black students said that their history is not reflected in their theater classes, so this semester, they wanted to change that. 

Rose, TJ Pursley, Jayla Thompson, Isaiah Cowan and Gabieh Rodrigues founded the Undergraduate Black Theatre Collective, an organization that aims to raise awareness of Black culture through different shows and events. There are currently 14 members. 

“We all came together because we were experiencing issues of racism in the classroom and felt that something needs to be done,” said Rose.

One of their upcoming events is “The Ballot or the Bullet,” where theater students will read a famous Malcolm X speech of the same name. It will be on Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. in room 102 of the Arts and Letters building with a panel discussion afterward. 

“The purpose of the Black Undergraduate Theatre Collective is to provide training, opportunities, and education to communities that have been historically underserved and underrepresented by FAU in the past,” Rose wrote on Facebook. “Through engagement with work that is culturally enhancing, members and audiences alike will gain a broader cultural awareness and appreciation for the universality of Black culture.”

Rose added that one of his reasons for wanting to start the organization was that the theater department does not offer any course about black culture as it relates to theater. 

“We don’t have any full-time acting faculty of color, so there’s no one to understand through experience how skin color will affect your professional track. We have found that community in each other, and that is what we created the collective for,” said Thompson. 

The organization is hosting events that talk about Black playwrights, theater history of all different backgrounds, and open mic nights where any students can come speak their mind on issues within the university.

“The Black Theater Collective is a safe space to appreciate the artwork that is not being talked about in the FAU theater department, and we welcome anyone who wants to be a part of it with open arms,” said Thompson.

The organization, Rose said, will also help students who are not educated on how to deal with different situations or social settings that involve racism. Rose explained that this organization will do that by educating the community about Black culture and giving students the opportunity to broaden their knowledge.

Official applications for the organization open March 1. Students who are interested in joining beforehand can message the collective on Instagram at @thecollectivefau.

Nichole Meyer is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected]