Encompass, a non-profit human relation theater organization for the youth, presented the play “Horizon Line” on Monday in celebration of Diversity Week at the University of La Verne.
“Horizon Line,” which focused mainly on the themes of racism and identity in the youth, consisted of eight characters – all performed by one man.
“To deal with a difference means to first acknowledge it,” said Lex Steppling, program coordinator of Encompass. “The youth must acknowledge and own what prejudices they may have.”
The goal of the play and the organization, he added, was to set up an open dialogue between the youth about those certain issues.
In front of an intimate crowd, Kevin Blake took the main role of Danny Curtis, a 16-year-old white male.
He feels he cannot be proud of being white without being labeled as a racist.
He is a teenager dealing with issues surrounding his identity as well as his race and that of those around him.
Through the character of Curtis, Blake played the role of a young person looking for his identity. Curtis is a teenager who needs something to connect to in order to feel like he belongs somewhere.
Curtis, an aspiring artist, uses his art to express himself.
He starts all of his drawings by first drawing a line on a sheet of paper, a horizon line.
It is the starting point for his drawings and as he later realizes, for his own life.
“I’ll keep my eye on the horizon line,” Curtis said to himself as the play ended.
“The play reminded me of my own life and of my own family issues,” said Jodi Baldridge, a junior history major. “It shows the different races and how they feel.”
Blake, apart from playing a troubled teenager, also took on the roles of a police officer, a mother, a father, an African American teacher, a male white pride supporter who tries to instill his white pride beliefs in Curtis, a Jewish teenager and a fellow teenager who offers him insight while in a tattoo removal waiting room.
Steppling started the show off by asking the audience to list ways in which people differ.
Some answers were religion, appearance, economic class, gender, sexuality, and age – all of which were made obvious in the play through the different characters Blake played.
The show is a catalyst for a discussion afterward, Blake said.
He has been working on “Horizon Line,” written by Peter Howard, for the past seven years.
“These are issues that are really important to me,” Blake said to the audience after his performance. “I found drama in high school and that was my art.”
He referred to Curtis’s own love of art throughout the play.
According to Blake, being exposed to many different cultures and races growing up helped him with this production.
Encompass works in human relations through art and theater.
It performs its theatrical productions both nationally and internationally, although its main focus is Southern California and California teenagers.
Besides the production “Horizon Line,” it also hosts “Wheels,” a production about immigration issues, and “Kick,” a production about stereotyping in cultures.
Encompass, which is located at 517 S. Myrtle Ave. in Monrovia, is always looking for new participants to partake in plays as well as volunteers to assist in the mentoring and facilitating of those putting on productions.
To learn more about how you can get involved, visit www.encompass.org or call 626-358-3442.
Angie Marcos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.