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Iowa school play benefits Ferguson student actors

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The cast of the Diviners accepts a standing ovation at curtain call.

The cast of the Diviners accepts a standing ovation at curtain call.

Caroline Brown

Caroline Brown

The cast of the Diviners accepts a standing ovation at curtain call.

Sophia Schlesinger

Sophia Schlesinger and Ellis Fontana

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The cast is gone, the set has been stripped, the lights taken down and the curtain tucked away. However, the legacy of “The Diviners” endures beyond the confines of Opstad Auditorium. Miles away in Ferguson, Mo., drama students are being given the opportunity to attend Missouri’s state festival, thanks to the funding provided by City High’s fall production of “The Diviners.”

The idea came from Troy Peters, City High’s drama director. In the months leading up to the opening of the play, Peters communicated with Doug Erwin, the Ferguson Art Director, about how to help the Ferguson community. “Erwin had posted something on a theater educator blog, and was wanting ideas for how their community could heal through the performing arts in their local high schools,” Peters said.

The students feel like the ‘raisins in the rice’ when they go to these state conferences.”

— Troy Peters, drama director, about Ferguson actors

It was eventually decided that the City High drama department would help send drama students to the Missouri state drama festival in January 2015.

“Our goal is to raise $1,200 to help out a couple of thespians from Ferguson go to this state conference in St. Louis, Mo.,” Peters said.

The actual amount raised totaled $1,000, just shy of the goal, but enough to send at least one thespian to the festival. Peters believes the participation of students from Ferguson will facilitate a much-needed discussion in Missouri.

“He mentioned how the students feel like the ‘raisins in the rice’ when they go to these state conferences,” Peters said. “Nobody wants to talk about race.”

Cast member Jared Kilberger ‘15 agrees and believes that the festival will give the opportunity to discuss issues like race.

“I think people can really share their opinions where they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to,” Kilberger said.

Fellow cast member Keegan O’Berry ‘16 also believes that the students’ participation helps create public understanding.

“The awareness is a really big thing,” O’Berry said. “Since it’s not in the media cycle anymore, a lot of people don’t know that it’s still going on. It hasn’t stopped just because they don’t see it.”

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