Last Saturday, Eastern Michigan University students and Ypsilanti community members were entertained by “The Color of Drums: A Fork in the Road,” a showcase of student poetry and performance presented by the Poetry Society of EMU. This year’s show was the 13th annual showcase.
The Poetry Society uses “The Color of Drums” as a way to creatively commemorate and remember the messages that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in and stood for. Advertised as a show “where poetry and acting collide on stage,” the performances ranged from skits riddled with poetic lines to dancing to a drum trio. Each performance kept the ideals and beliefs of King in mind and intended to spur emotional responses from the audience.
Before the performers took stage, DJ Ipod entertained the audience with popular music. While everyone waited for the show to start, the music caused some audience members to dance or sing along.
The hosts of The Color of Drums this year were Gerrard Allen, who founded the Poetry Society in 2001, and Blake Odum. After each performance, the two took the stage to speak about the previous act or the next one to come. There was no shortage of jokes from the two and there was lively interaction with the crowd.
The theme of the evening was “roads” or “routes.” “The Scenic Route,” The Easy Route,” “Dead End” and “The Road Less Traveled” were a few of the skits performed, each showing a different scenario in which a high school to middle-aged person was dealing with conflict or struggle. Some of the issues covered by the skits were teen pregnancy, death, education and living in a dangerous neighborhood. The performers showed how their characters’ previous choices had led them to be in the situation they were in.
Ideas touched on in “The Color of Drums” included equality, tolerance, women’s rights, freedom and the importance of education. In many of the skits, the performers’ characters had forgotten how important and critical these ideals and values are and had taken for granted what freedoms they had.
The skits were a reminder to everyone in the audience about how much work people have done in the past and today to make sure every person has the freedoms we often forget about.
Meghan Hickman, an EMU junior, went to “The Color of Drums” because of an extra credit opportunity for a class. She said her favorite performance was “The Road Less Traveled,” which followed a couple struggling with the issues of sex before marriage and infidelity.
“I felt like it was a story that most people in the audience could relate to,” said Hickman. “People are surrounded by choices they have to make, and these choices will shape the rest of their lives.”
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