Three panelists discuss fundamental elements embedded in August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean on the day Florida A&M University Essential Theatre’s premiere at Charles Winter Wood Theatre.
Mrs. Artisia Green, the assistant professor of Theatre & Africana Studies at College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., discussed the symbolism of spirituality and the illusion of freedom.
Green examined Wilson’s technique to connection to West African and Christian spirituality in the production.
“He [Wilson] forces us to remember the religion of one person is not the religion of another,” Green said.
Green went on the say that freedom is not measured by material gain.
“We need to change what freedom looks like,” Green said. “It is not bound to economic prosperity.”
Zakiya Muwwakkil, a FAMU assistant professor of Religion, added that faith and freedom clash. Muwwakkil uses the character Solly Two Kings’ dilemma to express the struggle for freedom and understanding Biblical lessons.
Dr. Iyelli Ichile, the FAMU coordinator of education programs at Eaton-Meeks Black Archives and museum, discussed the elemental forces as spiritual actors in Gem of the Ocean. The primary elements — fire, water, wind, earth and ether (spirit) — provide different aspects and serve vital roles in the play.
“All these elements are really important to the sustenance of the character,” Ichile said.
The elements align with the character’s personality and significant actions in the play.
Nichelle Lucas, a senior criminal justice and psychology from Daytona Beach, Fla., said hearing the discussion on the elements enlightened her viewpoint on the other elements.
“I would have to say my favorite was Dr. Ichile’s talking about the elements because water was basically forced down your throat,” Lucas said. “I did not think of fire and those other elements. So it was interesting for her to bring up a different perspective.”
“I thought it was a very in-depth panel discussion,” Lucas said. “It was good to see… three women of different color from different aspects of life. All in all I was very impressed with the panel.”
Ichile wants those who see the play to deliberate amongst themselves and others the questions in the play’s dialogue.
“People should ask the questions August Wilson asked in the play ‘Why do people waste their time asking all the wrong questions,’” Ichile said.
The play is available Oct. 24, 2014, at 8 p.m.; Oct. 25, 2014, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Oct. 26, 2014 at 3 p.m. at the Charles Winter Wood Theatre in Tucker Hall.
Admission to the play is free for FAMU students with ID, $15 Adult, $12 senior citizen d FAMU employee and $8 student/child.
For more information, contact Kimberly Harding at www.famu.edu/essentialtheatre 850-561-2425.