By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– A two-actor play about prejudice, racism and the power of diversity, done with humor and a different perspective, comes to Cal State San Bernardino on Thursday, Feb. 13, from noon-1:30 p.m.
Presented by CSUSB’s University Diversity Committee, the winter quarter Conversations on Diversity series will host “The Black-Jew Dialogues” at the university’s Santos Manuel Student Union Events Center. The event is free and open to the public.
Emmy-award winning writer-actor Ron Jones (Outstanding Children’s Programing Emmy for the TV special “Re: Action!”) and performer Simon Pringle-Wallace take the audience on a hysterical, yet poignant, ride through their three-day stay in a cheap hotel while working on a college class project on cross cultural communication.
They discuss their experiences, the history of their people and, according to them, the reasons for the growing rift between the two groups since the early 1970s.
The “Black-Jew Dialogues” combines fast-paced sketches, improvisations, multi-media, puppets and a game show to create a performance that has been praised at universities, high schools, synagogues and theaters across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
The production was recently nominated for “Best Diversity Program in America 2014” by Campus Activities Magazine. Cal State San Bernardino is one of more than 30 coast-to-coast stops on its nationwide winter tour.
“We use comedy to lower the pressure on what is often a very tough conversation for people to have about all our differences,” said Jones about the program.
“Through their (the two characters) dialogue, the audience gains insight to the true nature of prejudice and how our inability to face our own biases separate us in ways that we may not even think about. It also acts as a template for how bigotry and bias play themselves out for other marginalized groups today in America,” Jones said.
The performance is followed by a conversation between the actors and the audience about its content, and how those ideas and behaviors play out in people’s everyday lives.
“The discussions are often difficult and amazing all at the same time,” said Jones. “We give people permission to say the things that most folks think, but are afraid to say; then we deal with it.”
Pringle-Wallace further explains, “Given we will be in the midst of Black History Month, there is a lot of focus on the legacy of the civil rights movement. Dr. (Martin Luther) King’s vision was not just for blacks. This show is our attempt to bring that message to a modern context for us and our children.”
CSUSB’s University Diversity Committee has presented the Conversations on Diversity speaker series three times each academic year since 2005 to encourage dialogue among students, staff, faculty and the community about a variety of diversity issues.