Monticello High School Students Perform Play in Response to Racial Violence

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Joshua St. Hill and other students performing the play Joshua St. Hill and other students performing the play

High school students are responding to the events of this summer by reenacting some of the violence and emotion for the community.

Kids took the stage on Friday, March 2, at The Haven in Charlottesville to spark a discussion in the community on how to make sure violence like the kind exhibited over the summer doesn’t happen again.

"August in Perspective: Creative Responses to #Charlottesville" is one of the first creative responses to the events on August 11 and 12 performed by high school students. However, the inspiration for this play traces back to long before last summer.

More than six months after tragedy struck the streets of Charlottesville, fear and pain have lingered in the community.

“We live this in our everyday lives,” says Joshua St. Hill, a junior at Monticello high school.

Hill is a playwright for the drama department at Monticello High School. In April of 2017, he decided to use his theatrical talents to address the elephant in the room: racism.

“When I started writing the play, actually the first idea I had was to talk about, just, riots because at the time what was on my mind was, you know, the aftermath of Trayvon Martin,” says St. Hill.

In addition to police brutality against black teens, St. Hill felt that the events over the summer in Charlottesville needed to be included in his work.

“When an African-American teen is shot without justice, people get angry,” says St. Hill. “People, they have something to say and, of course, with the Confederate statue, with Heather Heyer's tragic death - people had something to say, so to be able to gel those situations together I think was just poetically beautiful."

The Monticello High School drama department puts on a progressive, one-act play each year. This year, it's performing St. Hill's play.

The cast was asked to perform Friday night at The Haven for members of the community.

“We were blessed to have this kind of opportunity,” says Amaya Wallace, the director of the play. “I think if it wasn't for what happened, this discussion wouldn't be happening. Our show wouldn't have been as popular as it is now."

After the play, there was an open discussion between the cast and audience.

“We definitely need to change - in Charlottesville, in Virginia, in America, in the world, and it always starts with discussion,” says Wallace.

The play included perspectives from all points of view, including the media, police officers, and students of all different races.

St. Hill is hoping his play will teach people to put themselves in others' shoes, and hopefully spark change in the community.