Gang violence, sorrow, responsibility and its aftermath all make its way to the FAMU Essential Theatre’s season opener, “Zooman and the Sign.”
The play, which will run Wednesday through Sunday at the Charles Winter Wood Theatre in Tucker Hall, is about a young girl who is mistakenly killed by a merciless gangbanger named Zooman.
Written by Charles Fuller, the play centers on the family’s struggle to deal with a pointless murder where no one from the community will come forward to identify the suspect.
“Zooman is a 15-year-old gangbanger who accidentally shots a girl on her front stoop,” said David Dolphy who plays Zooman. “This play is important because it teaches about responsibility that parents and communities should have for children,” said the 21-year-old junior theatre education student from Tampa.
DeAldon Watson, who plays the character of uncle Emmett, thinks the play relates to blacks.
“I think that as black people we need to be aware and keep our eyes open to the issues that effect us everyday,” said the 21-year-old senior theatre education student from Houston.
Valencia E. Matthews, the director of the show and the assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the play is relevant because it deals with teen violence, the community responsibility and the way we choose to respond.
“The same kinds of issues echo on campus and in the communities,” Matthews said. “I think the message of the play is we are all responsible and culpable. It’s often dangerous for us to get involved – but if we don’t it will get worse and we will not be able to live without freedom in our communities.”
The show contains adult language and Matthews urges the audience to bear with the language to heed the message.
“Watching Zooman is a deterrent for the younger kids because they don’t want to be like him,” said Kim Harding, the marketing and public relations spokesperson for the theatre department. “They can learn from his demise at the end.”
Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $5 for senior citizens, $5 for non-FAMU students. Free admission for all FAMU students with I.D.