Book Club: Wisdom from Playwright, August Wilson!

“Something is not always better than nothing.” – August Wilson, How I Learned What I Learned

Civicorps’ book club meets every Wednesday during lunch to share insight and discussion of the book selected for the term.

We recently read August Wilson’s Fences, a play about an African American family in the 1950s tackling issues on race, family structure, death, and economic mobility. So when the book club had the opportunity to see an actual August Wilson play on stage, we jumped at the chance to see it.  Seven Corpsmembers went to the Ubuntu Theater Project’s production of Wilson’s autobiographical one-man play, How I Learned What I Learned.

During the play, the actor playing Wilson shares an inspiring quote that resonated with Corpsmembers. In the scene, he shares that no matter how much you are earning, if you are being mistreated or disrespected at work because of your skin color, having no job is better.

“Something is not always better than nothing.”

I resonated with the quote [above], because I could understand him going through jobs and quitting because I use to do that a lot between 18 and 20. I didn’t feel like my former employers were respecting me as a black person and as a woman. Even though he’s older, history still repeats itself. He acknowledged that we can change it. We can change our perspective, and other people’s perspective of us. We are not the loud and rowdy ones, we just express ourselves differently. It’s not what you see, but how you see it. – Malajah, Corpsmember

The theatre really can provoke you to think beyond your years and experience truth often gone unnoticed or forgotten. This play opened our eyes and allowed us to be in the same room with August Wilson, whose background is similar to Corpsmembers. He left school at the age of 15 and like many of our Corpsmembers, took a nontraditional path to discover his purpose in life. He is a reminder that through hard work and knowing who you are, there are no obstacles to success other than yourself. The play was filled with advice that Corpsmembers could absorb/apply into their lives.

Whether it’s in a book or on stage, literature has the power to acknowledge our histories, question our realities, and change our futures. Civicorps is proud to host a book club that allows our students to think critically and deeply, and embody their realities through literature.

So if you are a Corpsmember, join us at the next book club, Wednesdays during lunch!

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The Measure of Oakland

The Measure of Oakland

On April 1st, our students performed their original and evocative performance of M4M Remix to a packed house! Our donors enjoyed a glass of wine and appetizers before the show and then exciting conversations with the actors following the performance. Also, our student poets performed their original poetry before the play began!

Set in Oakland and inspired by Shakespeare’s Measure For Measure, The Measure of Oakland (M4M Remix) explored the topics of consent, power, and justice in modern society.

The Measure of Oakland / Civicorps

Creative Process

In January and February, directors Stephen Muterspaugh and Maryssa Wanlass of San Francisco Shakespeare Festival began private interviews with about 20 students from Civicorps. In the interviews, students were asked about their experiences living in Oakland, and they shared intimate stories and reflections on their lives. These stories were then used by playwright Davern Wright to shape an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Measure For Measure – the play that Civicorps performed in the fall. He worked hard to write the script in a way that reflected the themes and experiences of life in modern day Oakland, through our students’ eyes. What truly made this original theatrical performance both heart-breaking and inspiring, is that many portions of the script were born out of the true experiences of our students.

The Measure of Oakland / Civicorps

Life-Changing Experience for our Students

“It was a lot of work, but it was cool. I felt famous.” – Tai

“This is my third Shakespeare play. I love it because it’s pushed me to prepare for my future.” – Telicia

“Shakespeare taught me how to act, and I can take that anywhere with me in life.” – Kyndall

“Shakespeare helps me open up to be a better person.” – Miki

Play Synopsis

As the newly appointed mayor of Oakland, Sampson vows to “clean up” the city. He devises a plan to incarcerate all of the poor citizens of the city, in order to build high-rise luxury apartments for the rich. His transformation of the city is unprecedented and appears unstoppable. Will the community be able to come together to cease this injustice, or will the city of Oakland become another haven for the wealthy? This original theatrical performance will find an answer to this dilemma, while highlighting the power and importance of reclaiming personal voice and allowing our stories to be heard.

Check out pictures from the powerful performance!

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Justice - Mercy - Revenge - Forgiveness

Justice – Mercy – Revenge – Forgiveness

On March 27th, Civicorps students in partnership with San Francisco Shakespeare Festival will perform Within Us: an urban exploration of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice set in modern Oakland.

The student performers are currently working with a playwright to re-write the original play. The result will be a powerful story that interweaves Shakespeare’s timeless themes of justice, mercy, revenge, and forgiveness with contemporary issues.

After the performance, the student actors will join the audience for riveting small group conversation about the play’s themes.

Light appetizers and wine will be served
Admission is free — RSVP is required

March 27, 2015
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Civicorps Job Training Center
1425 5th St.
Oakland, CA 94607

Justice - Mercy - Revenge - Forgiveness / Civicorps

Read more about the artistic process to re-write this play!

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Come see Merchant of Venice!

Come see Merchant of Venice! / CivicorpsMerchant of Venice

Each year, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s Midnight Shakespeare program works with Civicorps students for ten weeks to put on a Shakespeare play.

This fall we are proud to present The Merchant of Venice!

Join us on Thursday, November 20th at 7:30 pm
for a performance you’ll never forget!

Lakeside Park Garden Center
666 Bellevue
Oakland, CA 94610

Free event! Family friendly! No RSVP needed!

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