VAMP a chance for City College students to turn pain into performance

Storytelling “is part of a really powerful inheritance and legacy”

VAMP performers and producers

Spring VAMP performers and producers (from left): English professor Ella deCastro Baron, Ruby Rodriguez Chavez, Gimi Willie, Devan Watson, English professor Patricia McGhee, Kaydee Soumountha and Tadashi Hiura. Patricia McGhee photo

Kathryn Gray, Multimedia Journalist

To read the stories behind this year’s performances, click here.

VAMP, Visual Audio Monologue Performance, is taught in many City College English classes where all students are encouraged to submit work for the opportunity to perform in front of a virtual audience.

“Storytelling is the way our ancestors transmitted wisdom and knowledge, so it is part of a really powerful inheritance and legacy,” City College English professor Ella deCastro Baron said.

The spring VAMP theme “Wake Up” inspired performers to explore their world through words, vividly chronicling loss of innocence, family, culture and language.

They represent diversity in age, course of study and background, coming together to learn not only from coaches but from each other.

A panel of judges picks the final eight participants from a pool of up to 200 talented City writers.

The eight performers then go through a 5-week preparation process to refine their work, which includes writing and performance coaching and editing sessions.

For deCastro Baron, storytelling is an act of social justice and one of the most powerful antidotes to racism we have at this moment in history.

“One of the beautiful benefits of the show is that it not only benefits the writers, it benefits the audience,” McGhee said. “Audience members start to think, I could do that, I could write my story.”