Senior Kamal Lado has always envisioned creating a space for Black students to showcase their artwork, but they never thought such an event would be realized within their four years at Elon University. However, the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement following the killing of George Floyd this summer spurred Kamal to ensure their vision came to life.
Elon University’s Department of Performing Arts is putting on its first all-Black cabaret entitled “The Moment,” for which Lado is the artistic director.
“This is definitely something that needs to happen now; hence ‘The Moment,’” Lado said. “Not only is it a cabaret that showcases the fabulous, wonderful talent of all the students participating, [but] it's also a piece of activism [about] being Black unapologetically.”
The cabaret will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9 and 10 p.m. on Saturday Oct. 10 on Vimeo and Facebook.
The piece seeks to explore the experience of Black people in America from many different perspectives. Lado stressed the timeliness of the piece given the coronavirus pandemic and movement against racial injustice, which can be thought of as two pandemics both of which disproportionately impact Black people.
“We are living through dual pandemics right now. There is obviously COVID-19 and then there's also the pandemic of systemic racism and white supremacy. And that's one that we've been dealing with for a lot longer.” Lado said.
Elon junior and Assistant Director Hannah Hubbard said that in the cabaret they aim to showcase students in a variety of artistic pieces. The cabaret includes work that is traditionally cast to Black actors as well as roles where black actors are not usually seen.
By doing this, Hubbard said they aim to show the wide array of talents seen in their cast as Black actors are usually stereotyped within the industry.
“I think that's really important to show the versatility within Black artists and that there's not just like one box that you can place us in,” Hubbard said.
Elon junior Zion Middleton is also involved in “The Moment” as both the Outreach Liaison and an actor. Like Hubbard, he too placed an emphasis on the need to broaden the roles of Black people in the arts. Through the cabaret, he hopes that they can show just that.
“The only thing black about this cabaret is the actors,” Middleton said. “The words I'm saying, shouldn't be like black words. I'm saying words as a human.”
As society looks for ways to adapt and grow amid the coronavirus pandemic, Hubbard said performing arts must also use this time to reflect and address the needs of Black people within the industry.
“I think a lot of times the arts are seen as very progressive and they are compared to a lot of different parts of society, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done,” Hubbard said.
In the show, Lado aims to emphasize the reflective nature that is drawn from injustices against Black people. “The Moment” taps into the array of emotions that the Black community faces daily.
“Apart from all the pain and the sorrow and just everything that we go through as a Black people, there is also a lot of unity and joy and celebration and tradition and culture within that,” Lado said.
Through the cabaret, the team involved in its production hope to convey to their audience the strength and beauty seen within the Black acting community as well as the Black community as a whole.
“I hope that we can affect people and show people why black lives matter and why black lives need to matter in this world in order for us to all matter,” Hubbard said.