In these moments before the curtain rises, the real-life stage has been set for Yasmeen Duncan. After several performances on stage, the theatre major stepped off the stage and into the director's chair.
"Often I will second-guess myself and even overthink things. Not with this. There came an ease that helped me feel like, 'I'm really doing this. I have to trust myself and what I'm thinking.'"
A Song for Coretta, the story of civil rights icon Mrs. Coretta (Scott) King, wife of Martin Luther King Jr.
The play means something special to Yasmeen. It presents a theme playing out in cities across the country.
"It's very timely," she said. "We have racial issues, gender issues, and recent stories of black women not being heard or being silenced. This play will give you a glimpse of what our voices can, and will do, when our voices come through."
Setting the stage, building community
Yasmeen is taking her experiences on stage to her role as director.
"One of my strengths is seeing a vision in my head and explaining that vision to be put on a stage," she said. "I get to see what my vision is, but then I get to see what other people are putting into it that might change it or rearrange it."
She's building unity and community among the cast.
"Like Coretta, I can build community anywhere I go as long as I find people that believe in what I do," she said. "And even if they don't, we can learn to be together despite our differences."
Yasmeen received the 2020-2021 President's Award for the College of the Arts and Media. The President's Award recognizes the research, scholarship and creative endeavors of up to three outstanding undergraduate and graduate students with a $500 cash award. In the fall, she will pursue her master's degree in theatre education and applied theatre at
Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.