Young alums' play focuses on human rights issues in Darfur

By: Anna Carmichael,  A&S Communications
September 23, 2015

What began as a project for two Cornell students working on an event for Human Rights Month has transformed into a play that will be previewed this weekend in Ithaca before moving to an off-Broadway theatre.

The Darfur Compromised by Trevor Stankewicz ’15 and directed by Rudy Gerson ’15 (an alum of our College Scholar program) was a keynote production of Cornell’s Caceres-Neuffer Genocide Action Group’s Human Rights Month in the spring. Stankewicz and Gerson worked closely with Sudanese Scholar Ahmed Adam, as well as Cornell Professor John Hubbel Weiss, to study both the historical conflict and international politics that have surrounded the Darfur region. 

Weiss asked Stankiewicz to write the play, and though Stankiewicz was doubtful at first, after he was informed and well read, he felt comfortable writing the play. After outlining and writing it, he put it on in April.

“It was a whirlwind process,” says Stankiewicz.

Stankewicz and Gerson, two Cornell University Arts & Sciences alumni, will be previewing the play Sunday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. in the library of the Beverly J. Martin elementary school in Ithaca. After the preview, the play will premiere Off-Broadway at The Cherry Lane Theater Nov. 2. 

“Darfur has been a place of terrible genocide for well over a decade,” said Bruce Levitt, theatre professor in the Department of Performing and Media Arts. “What emerges in the collaboration between Stankiewicz and Gerson is a play of immense power that succinctly crystalizes the issues surrounding the events in Darfur.”

“The play reflects on activism that has made waves in Darfur and we hope that the play makes activism a larger movement… back into the news and back into peoples’ minds,” says Gerson.

The plot focuses on a young student, Jackson, attending a prestigious university, and his mentor, a professor, who travel through the American activism surrounding the Darfur genocide. Over the course of the play, Jackson learns of Darfur’s history, and must challenge both the beliefs of others and of himself. 

The play serves as a part of a larger campaign to help benefit Operation Broken Silence, a movement that calls for peace and justice in Sudan. Half the proceeds of the staged movement will be sent to this cause.