• Joy Boyd

Musical Theater Teaches History and Social Awareness in We Are the Drum

Anyone else love musical theater? I grew up living for stories being told through song and dance. As you may have guessed, a lot of the plays and movies I watched in this category, could’ve had more representation of Black and Brown people. Now I’ve seen ‘Dreamgirls’ at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and ‘The Wiz’ is my favorite, but We Are the Drum stands alone in the way it teaches Black history as well as professional stage production to the young actors involved.

Brought to you by CAPITA (City at Peace in the Arts) Productions and Marshall High School, We Are the Drum is a 2-act performance beginning and ending in our African roots. On Sunday, March 8, the show kicked off with the praises of African dance and moved to the struggle of slavery, endured by our surviving ancestors. From there we learned about Harriet Tubman, the action Black men took in the Civil War and The Emancipation Proclamation which claimed all African Americans were free. The performers reminded us freedom and equality are not one in the same as act II began with The Civil Rights Movement.

Continuing with the timeline of our people, the music shifted to 70s, 80s and 90s classics. Artists like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Betty Wright were honored for their contributions to rhythm and blues. Tributes were given of Michael Jackson, Prince and the 2000s queen, Beyoncé before the show concluded the way it began, with the We Are the Drum chant.

Along with teaching how the majority of African Americans came to the United States and the experiences that occurred after, We Are the Drum and performing arts like it, guide students to take risks and gain confidence. Kids can explore their imaginations while learning self-discipline through rehearsals and performances. Musical theater is one way to show social awareness to issues we face in our growing communities and I am elated we still have programs like this for generations to come.

If you are interested in seeing We Are the Drum or would like to make sure the show continues for others, feel free to donate to CAPITA Productions here.

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