Five actors brought more than 15 characters to life in the one-act play, “Keep Marching: The Road to the March on Washington,” at Lake View High School, on Tuesday, January 23. The play, written and directed by Daniel Carlton, was inspired by real characters and collected oral history from actual people who attended the 1963 March on Washington.
“It is extra special when we are able to provide quality performances for our students,” said Tiffany Huebner, SAISD Director of Advanced Academics and Fine Arts. “The civil rights movement is an important part of our history and the actors and writers of the play did a great job portraying what it must have been like to attend such a historical event.”
History students from Lake View High School and 8th-grade history students from Lincoln Middle School filled almost every seat in Lake View’s auditorium. The showing at Lake View was the second stop on the theater group’s National Tour of “Keep Marching: The Road to the March on Washington.”
“The play encourages people, young and old, to take an active and positive role in our country’s governance,” said Yuki Kuniyuki, Executive Director of the San Angelo Performing Arts Center. “We must each do our best to learn about our past, to stay informed about the present, and to champion the causes that are important to all of us in the future. We are often more similar than we are different. Furthermore, it is a reminder that we can make our voices heard in constructive ways and that each of our stories is important to tell.”
Set in the year 2024, the play begins with Lumumba Jackson and Frank Lewis who host the podcast “Hope for Humanity.” Lumumba and Frank both had relatives who were reporters that attended the March on Washington in 1963. The podcasters have invited two teenagers, Jasai and Chloe, to talk about activism in today’s society. The play then transitions to a flashback to the day the March on Washington took place, August 28, 1963, beginning with parents and grandparents as young people receive phone calls in the morning inviting them to attend the march. The audience watches as the day unfolds, as a journalist reports on the march and its growing crowd, up to when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to a peaceful crowd of 250,000 people. The play ends with a flashforward back to the present, where the podcasters and their guests then reflect on the events of August 28, 1963.
“‘Keep Marching’ is a call to action to today’s young people,” said Mr. Carlton in a statement. “It is a journey into the past, as both inspiration and a reminder that nothing worth fighting for is an easy road. ‘Keep Marching’ is living memories. ‘Keep Marching’ is the song in your heart that puts melody, rhythm and harmony into an anthem that you can share with your peer travelers on the road to social justice!”
Approximately 40 students stayed after the play to participate in a panel Question and Answer session with all five actors. They answered students’ questions and offered students advice based on their own personal experiences. During the Q&A, students learned about playwriting, tour life, set construction, costume changes, rehearsal process and tips on memorizing lines.
“I hope that students realize that the visual and performing arts are a valuable component to every community and I hope that they have opportunities to explore careers and interests in the creative arts,” said Mr. Kuniyuki. “Each of the actors shared their experiences and educational career paths for students to understand that if you want to make it there are plenty of opportunities, but it takes individual initiative to be successful. Moreover, theatre and live performances are a great way to present important historical events in an engaging format.”
SAISD is committed to our mission of engaging all students in a relevant and inspiring education that produces future-ready graduates. We appreciate the San Angelo Performing Arts Center and Mad River Theater Works who helped provide our students this additional opportunity to pursue their own hopes and dreams.
“With the support of our local community and in this case in particular, San Angelo Performing Arts Center, we were able to bring in a traveling theater group to make history come alive,” said Mrs. Huebner. “We are extremely grateful for traveling theater groups such as Mad River who take their craft on the road so that more of us may experience theatrical performances such as these.”