Behind the scenes

The Ubuntu Theater Project Blog


April 19, 2016

ubuntu company members shine in "GRAPES" - part 2

In the month of April, as The Grapes of Wrath performs, we are featuring a few of Ubuntu’s Ensemble Members who are involved in the production. Today, we have Rolanda "Ro" Dene Bell who is in the Ensemble of Grapes of Wrath!

Q: What drew you to participate in The Grapes of Wrath?

A: As a company member, I couldn't help but to say yes when asked to do this production. Ubuntu is such an amazing group of people who are all about unity and create high quality productions. My love for them and the hunger for the craft makes things a lot easier. The process may have been a little bumpy in the beginning, but, in the end, it's all hands on deck and everybody is there for the same reason. I trust my director and I trust my team enough to know that there's a story to be told and it will be told well.

Q: What was your first experience at/with Ubuntu?

A: My first experience at Ubuntu was Dutchman and Yellowman during their 2013 Summer Festival. When I saw the production of Yellowman, I was pulled back and drawn in at the same time. My heart was racing right along with the actors as they were filled with urgency. Every minute that passed, my heart was in it just as much as the actors were. 

    My first experience WITH Ubuntu was their 2nd Summer Festival in the production of Dance of the Holy Ghosts in 2014. Going into rehearsals for the first time with this company really opened my eyes and I saw theater in a whole new light. To work with a company who is the same age as me, just as passionate about the craft as I am, and gives love and respect as openly as if we were a family made the experience so comfortable and free. It was at that moment, opening night, that I knew I would be attached to them for as long as I can.

April 7, 2016

ubuntu company members shine in "GRAPES"

Ubuntu Theater Project Ensemble Member
Francisco Arcila

As we gear up for The Grapes of Wrath, we will feature a few of Ubuntu’s Company Members who are involved in the project. First up, we have Francisco Arcila who plays Noah Joad! Francisco first became involved with Ubuntu Theater Project during his time as an undergrad at UC San Diego; during his sophomore year, he auditioned for Michael Moran and was cast as an ensemble member in The Grapes of Wrath in 2013, and that moving experience led him to become deeply involved in the company’s founding and later productions.

Francisco spoke about the rehearsal process for the upcoming production of The Grapes of Wrath, opening on April 8, 2016, specifically appreciating Ubuntu’s support of their performers, creating a safe space, allowing the artists to develop as actors, and assisting in their growth. Francisco personally tried a different process in developing his character, Noah Joad, the eldest of the Joad brothers, explaining “I wanted to start from a neutral point and build my character over time, let the choices make themselves as I made discoveries about Noah.” Francisco described Noah as “calm, a little strange, but very much in the present.” Citing Flannery O’Connor’s religiosity and deep love for her God as a point of inspiration, Francisco chose to explore Noah’s reverence for nature and awe for life and the world around him.

When asked about the story’s contemporary relevance, Francisco says, “What I feel like Steinbeck is getting at is that a good life is right there,” and that’s what the Joad family is seeking as they journey across the United States. “Today, some people lose sight of that.” One of the things that Francisco admired most about Noah and his family was that they remain generous, kind, and appreciative in the face of adversity and discrimination. Francisco drew a parallel between the reception of migrants in the play to the treatment of immigrants and refugees in today’s society, “people are afraid. They’re angry.” However, similarly to Steinbeck, Francisco believes in the positive outcome from people coming together, “For many, it’s scary to be forced to share space with someone from a different culture, without the same cultural idiosyncrasies, it’s uncomfortable. But somehow, something beautiful comes from it.”

Read an excerpt from Flannery O’Connor’s journals here:

Blog post written by Leigh Rondon-Davis

March 25, 2016

Grapes of Wrath Kicks off

Music Director, Tommy Crawford jumps into the ensemble songs on the first day of rehearsal! There are over 15 songs in this production

We are proud to take on this American Classic. Spurned from the Dust Bowl, the worst man made natural disaster in history, and the resulting migrant crisis in America rings alarmingly relevant with the European migrant crisis, global warming, the sour rhetoric about immigration, and forced displacement across the world.

In line with Steinbeck’s belief that there is the possibility of a true human family, this production features a family from diverse backgrounds arresting literalism and inspiring a suspension of disbelief that echoes of a greater human family.

The Grapes of Wrath
by Frank Galati
from the novel by John Steinbeck
April 8 -24

Oakland City Church
2735 MacArthur Blvd
Oakland, CA 94602

March 24, 2016

The Ubuntu Theater Project starts a blog!

To bring you you behind the scenes to learn more about our shows, our incredible artists, and the inner-workings of our rehearsals and trainings.

We want to share all the cool stuff that's going on! So bookmark this page and keep coming back for more!

- Team Ubuntu