Students in the Heifer Theater Project of Heifer International took to Robinson Auditorium's stage Friday with somber performances on world hunger and its causes.
The 17 students — musicians, writers, dancers and actors — spent two weeks at the Heifer Ranch in Perryville learning about the causes of hunger and writing and creating the production.
This year's performance had an art-house feel as students dressed in black and wore white or maroon hook-nosed masks, dramatizing, often through interpretive sketches, the ways in which hunger, poverty and war ravage people's lives. The only scenery, a heart-shaped backdrop draped with colored sashes, loomed behind the actors.
In the sketch “Memorial Day,” Gabrielle Worley stood at the foot of the stage to deliver a monologue on war, while Johnny Sfarnas, playing her little brother, sat in the low-lit background playing with G.I. Joe characters. The familiar crash and boom sounds of a child playing with soldier toys erupted from the young boy. “He thinks he knows what war sounds like,” the narrator tells the audience. “Our ability to distance ourselves from the suffering is proof that war has affected us.”
The Theatre Project aims not only to educate the viewing audience, but to inform and inspire the students.
“I came here not knowing anyone or much about what I was doing,” performer Brianna Maree Holderman of Columbus, Ohio, said. “I'm leaving here with a passion to go out into the world and change things.” She is returning to her Ohio hometown with plans to host a dinner at her high school, where participants will be divided at the supper table by class, the meal on their plates correlating with their economic status. All the proceeds from the dinner will be donated to Heifer.