VIDEO: City College drama students react in the moment of the Chauvin verdict

The Festival of New Plays will stream online starting April 29

Actors from How We Talk About Racism

Actors from “How We Talk About Racism” rehearse before the filming of their play. Drama courtesy photo

Noelle Mortensen, Multimedia Journalist

Four San Diego City College drama students had just completed a performance of a moving one-act play about social justice entitled “How We Talk About Racism” when another student announced the verdict in the case of Derek Chauvin was about to be read.

Ten or so City College students, along with their professors, were gathered in the campus TV studio to record a series of student plays to stream online, due to COVID-19 restrictions on live audiences.

While still socially distanced, they anxiously listened for the verdict from the speaker of a student’s phone in the silent studio. 

As the first guilty verdict was read, the room filled with sighs of relief. 

With the second verdict, one actor, wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, broke down in tears.

And by the third, professor Katie Rodda was consoling and comforting her actors.

“It made me feel so much lighter and empowered that George Floyd got justice,” said Victoria Garcia, an actor in the play. “He didn’t deserve to die, but he got justice.” 

On Tuesday, City College drama students, along with City Times Media staff, filmed five different pieces for the Festival of New Plays that will debut April 29. There will be eight shows in total for the festival, three of which will be live Zoom experiences. 

City Drama Poster“How We Talk About Racism” captures the uncomfortable truths about racism and how we talk about it in society. The piece, written by KaileyKielle Hoga, is taken directly from interviews with four diverse San Diego women.

“I think that it’s time for change and I think that we are finally seeing justice seen,” drama student Tiana Lee said.

The festival tackles social justice issues such as immigration, political agenda, sexuality, Black Lives Matter, and other relevant issues that people have faced in the past year and beyond. One of the pieces even goes to such lengths to hit on the Covid-19 pandemic in an alternative way. 

Chancellor Constance Carroll posted a statement on twitter where she recalled her childhood in segregated Baltimore. As a child she witnessed African Americans being brutalized by the police, but says she still has hope for the future.

“In the George Floyd murder trial was the first ray of hope I have seen, the most substantial ray of hope I have seen,” wrote Carroll in the statement.

Other community college officials took to social media to share their thoughts. 

City College President Ricky Shabazz shared his thoughts on the verdict on Twitter, stating that the “jury did the right thing.”

Additionally, California Community College Chancellor Eloy Oakley echoed Shabazz’s statement with a tweet, adding that “the work ahead of us as a nation and in the California Community Colleges must move forward with the urgency and moral clarity that our students demand and deserve.”

Hear about the local reactions to the Chauvin trial in the lead report which can be seen in this week’s episode of Newscene, the award-winning student-produced weekly newscast.

Multimedia Journalist Ayo Elise contributed to this report.