Black Dot brings Humor and Thought to the Issue of Diversity

Photo courtesy of Manqing Cang '13 | The play will also incorporate use of puppets, such as the “butterflies” pictured above.

Photo courtesy of Manqing Cang ’13 | The play will also incorporate use of puppets, such as the “butterflies” pictured above.

 

Jackie Leahy ’14
Arts Editor

On April 13 at 8 p.m. in the Hallie Flanagan Theatre, Smith senior Manqing Cang will present her play Black Dot.

“I particularly like the format of the play. Though we have actors, we also have puppets. The play is fun yet dramatic and thought-provoking at the same time,” said producer Shuyao Kong ’13.

Posters for the play are already up all over campus, and bear the following intriguing message: “The play Black Dot is mainly about diversity, though not intended to build awareness of [a] certain culture. It raises questions about what diversity really is, [and] why and how we value diversity. While there are often too many diversity events happening on campus, seldom do we question ourselves if diversity is really a good thing, even when its advantages are obvious and it is at the root of every society.”

The 5-college WORD! Festival praised the play as “funny, weird and crisp.”

According to Kong, writer Manqing Cang “chose to write it as a story about a group of butterflies and some flies, hoping to illustrate a single case of what would happen when two distinct groups come together.”

Cang, who is also the play’s director, described her hopes for how the play will change Smith students’ vision of the world.

“Theater is a great way to stimulate thinking,” she said, “especially when there’s no single answer for the question. It’s an indirect route to reach somewhere where you have fun during the journey.”

Beyond Cang and Kong, Elaine Zhang ’13, Mingyu Dong ’13 and Tracy Fei ’13 are involved in Black Dot as well. Zhang serves as sound designer, Dong as set and lighting designer and Fei as stage manager. Though the play was initially going to be shown in the Campus Center, it was relocated to Hallie Flanagan after the crew realized that renting the required lighting equipment would have been too expensive for the production.

According to Kong, who has previously hosted a series of panels about China and who was previously president of the Chinese Interregional Students Cultural Organization, she originally wanted to stage a play about China to educate the campus about diversity and Chinese culture. However, in speaking with Cang, Kong realized that “in order to better understand the meaning behind diversity, we should not put the concept to a particular culture.”

Kong hopes for an inquisitive audience.

“I hope my audience come with questions. [That] they comes wondering how the play plays with a black dot on a butterfly. Then, after seeing the play, I hope they will come up with their own interpretation of [the] black dot. I want them to broaden the idea of [the] black dot beyond physical difference, racial difference, cultural difference, to individual difference – like psychological, personality-wise etc. Most importantly, I want the audience to reflect on how their daily actions embody their own approach to diversity.”

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