Trinity University researchers use findings for theater performance

Play touches on perception of Islam during 2016 U.S. presidential election

By Alicia Barrera - Multimedia Journalist

SAN ANTONIO - This weekend Trinity University will present a theatrical performance based on research at the Tobin Center. The play stems from the reactions to President Donald Trump’s proclamation to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. Faculty and student research led the project in the summer of 2017 and spoke first-hand to people across San Antonio on their perceptions of Muslims.

In total, 172 people from all walks of life, all beliefs and political views were interviewed as part of the research. Their answers were so powerful that the faculty and staff involved wanted people to hear their answers verbatim. Soon after, the university’s theater department got involved to create the play To Be Honest.

“(The researchers) were very interested in people's thoughts, not only about Islam, but especially the campaign rhetoric that was coming out about Muslims… (and) the various kinds of problems that were going on in the country,” Stacey Connelly, associate professor of Trinity University’s Theater Department, said.

The research will be delivered on the stage where 23 people of all ethnicities will be portrayed.
Joshua Segovia, an actor, will bring Chris’ story to life. Chris, a U.S. Army veteran, served several deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“It's important to remember in this particular show (that) these are real people, and they're real words that have been transcribed,” Segovia said. “We're bringing those to life.”
Segovia, along with the other actors, will read from a script while on stage as a reminder to the audience.

“This isn't a character,” Segovia said. “This is a person that I could go up right now and shake their hand. These words came from somebody and having (a script) in my hand, having the audience see that in my hand, I think really communicates that.”

“The characters that they are playing actually said that,” Connelly said. “These are real people, the words of real people, who told some of their most private thoughts about their core beliefs.”
The stage is also meant to provide a safe place for civil discourse.

“This play reminds us that we all have valid opinions and that they are informed by our life experience,” Connelly said.

They believe these opinions and thoughts will still hold true leading up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

A roundtable discussion with other audience members, director, members of the cast and the authors will follow each performance.

The play will be performed Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. For more information and to purchase your tickets, visit the university’s page here.

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