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Students raise the curtain on Darfur in new play

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John Carberry
Darfur play practice
From left, Trevor Stankiewicz, Rudy Gerson and Daniel Iyayi prepare to rehearse "The Darfur Compromised" at Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium.

What began as a project for two Cornell students working on an event for Human Rights Month has transformed into a play that will preview Sunday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m. in the library of the Beverly J. Martin elementary school in Ithaca before moving Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theater Nov. 2.

“The Darfur Compromised” by Trevor Stankiewicz ’15 and directed by Rudy Gerson ’15 was a production of the Caceres-Neuffer Genocide Action Group’s Human Rights Month in April. Stankiewicz and Gerson worked closely with Sudanese Scholar Ahmed Adam and John Hubbel Weiss, associate professor of history in the College of Arts & Sciences, to study the historical conflict and international politics affecting the Darfur region.

Weiss asked Stankiewicz to write the play, and though Stankiewicz was doubtful at first, after he informed himself and read widely he felt comfortable writing the play.

“It was a whirlwind process,” says Stankiewicz.

“Darfur has been a place of terrible genocide for well over a decade,” said Bruce Levitt, theater professor in the Department of Performing and Media Arts. “What emerges in the collaboration between Stankiewicz and Gerson is a play of immense power that succinctly crystalizes the issues surrounding the events in Darfur.”

Says Gerson: “The play reflects on activism that has made waves in Darfur and we hope that the play makes activism a larger movement… back into the news and back into peoples’ minds.”

The plot focuses on a young student, Jackson, who attends a prestigious university, and his mentor, a professor. Jackson learns of Darfur’s history, and must challenge both the beliefs of others and his own.

The play serves as a part of a larger campaign to help benefit Operation Broken Silence, a nonprofit that calls for peace and justice in Sudan. Half the proceeds of the staged reading will be sent to the group.

Anna Carmichael ’18 is a communications assistant for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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