‘One’ Episode 14: Astouline Nutakor & Iragi Nkera engage local communities through theater arts

Kenneth Xu YC'21
Astouline Nutakor & Iragi Nkera

In Episode #14 of the Yale Schwarzman Center (YSC) web series, One, Theater Studies graduate Astouline Nutakor YC'20 and Economics & Theater Studies major Iragi Nkera YC'21 talk with interviewer Laurie Gomez YC'22 about Nutakor’s senior thesis in community-engaged theater. The non-traditional thesis project culminated in a play developed in collaboration with youth from ‘Ice the Beef,’ an anti-violence organization that hosts after-school development programs in New Haven. As part of the undertaking, Nutakor and Nkera conducted community-building theater workshops with Ice the Beef. Many of the exercises honed in the workshops appear in the play itself.

As producer of the play, Nkera was responsible for securing funding and developing a plan to bring the work to a live stage. Although the performance’s production was halted due to physical distancing measures in the early days of COVID-19, Nutakor and Nkera reunited with youth from Ice the Beef virtually in this episode of One to present a dramatic reading of an excerpt from the play, Song Circle Rising. It tells the story of young people who come together at a youth program to find friendship and healing, much like the teenagers involved in Nutakor and Nkera’s outreach project.

At the end, the play finds its resolution through a surreal moment where [the characters] are all singing together. Even though they are in different spaces, somehow it seems as though they can hear each other...
Astouline Nutakor YC'20

Gomez, the host of episode 14, is a junior in Ezra Stiles College and a student staff member at the Schwarzman Center specializing in communications outreach. She is double majoring in Political Science and Film & Media Studies.

One, a web series produced by the YSC, highlights interdisciplinary approaches to the arts in relation to the Center’s values of collaboration, wellness, and belonging. The inaugural season illuminates the creative and academic merits of student works impacted by social distance and explores perspectives on community-building among dispersed groups. The series title, One, is a nod to the YSC’s aspiration to advance a sense of “One Yale” and create an interconnected community that builds new traditions of student engagement around campus and into the world.

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