Oct 082008
Authors: Alison Kent

Principal actress Beverly Sotelo said she was educated and impressed by her audience members during her performance of “Faces of America,” a nationally touring theater production addressing themes of diversity, discrimination and racial attitudes.

More than 100 audience members found themselves relating to issues of diversity through Sotelo’s portrayal of seven different characters in the one-woman show, which took place Wednesday evening in the Lory Student Center.

The audience members showed how they were affected and how they empathized with her messages through audibly abundant responses of laughs, gasps and sighs.

“I felt like everyone knew what I talked about,” Sotelo said.

She said she was fascinated with how the audience validated who they were during the question and answer session at the end of the performance. At that time, personal issues and concerns were passionately

voiced freely among the crowd.

According to Hal Mooney, the producer for “Faces of America,” the idea for the show developed when William Cox, the director and playwright, who traveled extensively throughout the U.S., felt there was a need to address the issue of diversity through live performance.

After Cox sat down with college students and young graduates to discuss diversity and stereotypes, their own stories emerged into what Sotelo described as a part of a “spontaneous generation” founded on principles of acceptance.

At the question and answer session following the show, responsive audience members included Cortney Paddock, senior human development and family studies major, and Samantha Yang, a Fort Collins resident.

Paddock said she was “very satisfied with the playwright and approach.”

“A lot of presentations make people clam up, but they did a great job of making it approachable and establishing dialogue about our differences,” Yang said.

Sotelo then addressed a quote by Nelson Mandela: “As we are liberated from our fears, we liberate others.” Reflecting on the leader’s words, Sotelo captured the oxymoron of American culture with a brief history of America’s foundation on violence.

Sotelo said “anger elicits people to think about what they believe in,” and she tied in how each one of her characters dealt with the stereotypes in society. Her performance did not overemphasize diversity, but it instead portrayed diversity as a part of life.

Just as issues of diversity are constantly changing, she said, her characters are in transition as well.

As Americans, she said, we are victims of cultural schizophrenia and fail to recognize that we are “one people” in the face of many different backgrounds.

Our problem, she said, is that we tend to rely on “fuzzy logic” and think in terms of black and white.

Staff writer Alison Kent can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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