Drama promotes tolerance

Kevin Sifuentes plays a happy teenager at the DMV in on Oct. 6 performance of  the dramatic monologue

Kevin Sifuentes plays a happy teenager at the DMV in on Oct. 6 performance of the dramatic monologue "Wheels." The presentation was held in the Main Theatre of Skyline. (Diana Diroy)

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Skyline College students were invited to witness a presentation by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), on Oct. 7, which included a performance and discussion session by members of the NCCJ. The theme for this presentation, entitled “Wheels,” was xenophobia (fear of new things) and immigration, one of three such presentations with similar themes.

Opening the show with a discussion, moderator Diane Flinn began asking questions of the students that would be considered tough by many. She asked about views on immigration, common stereotypes on immigrants and other stereotypes that students knew of, and many shared their personal experiences with those in attendance.

After the discussion, Flinn introduced the man who performed that day, Kevin Sifuentes. Sifuentes stepped into the bright lights and began the show.

“Wheels” is the tale of a young man the age of 15 attempting to get his driver license in the U.S. The boy, who had been born in the U.S., still had to face some of the problems that immigrants go through every day. His mother came to America before he was born, and it was assumed he was an immigrant himself. Through his adventure in the legal system, found himself faced with others in similar situations.

Sifuentes, by using different hats and accents, was able to perform a variety of characters on his own, playing various individuals with cultural differences that were meant to call upon the audience’s own stereotypes to decide exactly where the character came from. The characters’s dilemmas were also meant to provoke the audience into thinking about what people from other cultures who immigrate to the United States have to go through.

After the performance, there was another discussion, calling on students to explain how they felt, what nation or background the students thought the characters were from, who they thought was the most interesting or controversial character, and more.

Some students were surprised that a few of the characters in the play weren’t the nationality they thought. One example was the portrayal a girl on a cell phone at the DMV. Many thought she was a stereotypical blonde because she had a “valley girl” accent, but the playwright described the character as African-American.

This performance was meant to open a dialogue in the community. The focus of the NCCJ is to promote understanding and respect among people of all cultures.