With surprising fleetness and depth, a budding student-run theater company has moored itself into the histrionic GW community. Having already produced works by such estimable talents as George C. Wolfe (“Colored Museum”) and Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”), Majority Theatre Productions emphasizes the voices of minorities. Now running through April 30, the acting troupe has staged a triptych of one-act plays written by GW students. In a recent Hatchet interview, two of the founding company members ruminated on the performance, their process and the sudden success of Majority Theatre.
Hatchet: Nice to meet you both, and congratulations on the show. First things first, what are we going to be seeing?
Jasmine Briggs: The original title of mine was “Three Women,” but the director kept telling me that it was really Kayla’s story. So I said, OK, “Kayla’s Story” it is.
Blayr Nias: I wrote one and co-wrote another. Mine are the comedies on the bill. The first is called “St. Valentine,” and the other is “Cocaine.”
H: What’s “Kayla’s Story” about?
JB: It’s about a girl whose parents are recently separated. She doesn’t know how to handle it so she rebels against the family. She and her younger sister live with their mother, who is always working to support them, and she resists taking care of her sister.
H: And the comedies?
BN: “St. Valentine” centers on three couples – a lesbian and bisexual girl who falls for a man, a husband who wants to spice up the sex life for his younger wife and a spunky girl trying to mate with a laidback guy. “Cocaine” is about the first white female rapper to make it big in the mainstream. The joke is that, like Bubba Sparxx and Haystack, the rise in white rappers enables a white person, a young girl, to be the next big thing.
H: That’s the joke?
BN: Well, that and she’s a Republican rapping about life in her hometown of Beverly Hills – clothes, facials, things like that. Our lead is completely opposite of the persona of a rapper. But she freestyled at her audition, which was hilarious and sealed it.
H: Excellent. Let’s get back to “Kayla.” It’s a family drama, right? What’s the relationship between the mother and her children?
JB: Neisha, the little sister, loves her mother, but Kayla, the elder, expresses just the opposite. She’s upset with the mother because she is forced to play the part of mom and take care of Neisha. Kayla is only 14, and Neisha is seven or 10.
H: So where did the idea for “Kayla’s Story” come from?
JB: It was actually an assignment for a playwriting class. It seemed to have enough substance and life in it to be performed, so my friends forced me to submit it as a possible candidate for the one-acts. I revised it, which took me a semester to do, so there were many stages before it got where it is now. Revising it, I thought, would be difficult, especially since I had written the first version so long before. But I got back into it pretty quickly and now it’s being performed.
BN: It wasn’t really a competition or a contest. We just submitted our work and a balanced mixed bill was put together. The themes of these three plays, while not completely alike, blended well with each other.
H: It must have been gratifying being picked out of all those submissions.
JB: It did feel good, but I was a little nervous about people actually seeing something that I wrote. But as far as the audience response is concerned, I think people will relate to the story. It’s a part of our society, the increasing divorce rate, and it may hit home with some people.
BN: It’s just nice to have success and good word of mouth already for such a young theater group. We’ve had people from New York calling to see our shows; word is getting out.
“Cocaine,” “Kayla’s Story” and “St. Valentine” are running now through May 1 at Lisner Downstage. Performances are Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 7 and 10 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.