Ebony Theatre’s First Fridays will showcase talent from students of color

Ebony Theater will start its monthly First Fridays talent showcase this Friday. (Archive photo by Parker Robb | The Collegian)

Ebony Theatre’s First Fridays series will kick off on Friday at 6 p.m. in the lobby of the Purple Mask Theatre in West Stadium.

First Fridays occur on the first Friday of every month. The event combines culture, art and community.

First Fridays is sponsored by Ebony Theatre and is a “monthly, arts-infused social gathering [that] gives a variety of student performers of color a chance to share their work while attendees gather for conversation and refreshments,” according to the K-State Department of Theatre website.

Jerry Jay Cranford, assistant professor of K-State’s theatre department, is a faculty member assisting with the event.

“It’s just been a really wonderful thing,” Cranford said. “I think, not just for Ebony Theatre but for the K-State community, for our theatre students to gather and understand that we are a diverse society, a diverse community with many different voices and many different experiences to share.”

This month’s First Friday event will feature many performers, including the Mike Brown Jazz Trio. Anyone who would like to perform can do so and get feedback from fellow artists.

Performances done in past First Fridays include spoken-word poetry, comedy routines and tap dancing.

“Other than that, it’s mostly free flowing,” Kenedi Kelley, president of Ebony Theatre and senior in American ethnic studies, said. “It’s just really fun, a lot of people like to mingle. … It’s a very relaxed environment.”

The Ebony Theatre group started First Fridays last December as an outlet for artists of color and others to share their talent and passion for the arts.

Kelley said she hopes First Fridays will only grow bigger this year.

“This semester, I’m excited because we’ve been looking for more consistent acts…making it more expansive. It’s a very good, solid idea that has the potential to be something really, really big,” Kelley said.

Chelsea Turner, vice president of Ebony Theatre and senior in American ethnic studies, said the First Fridays will be set up like a meet-and-greet social as a place to bring people together.

“We don’t want it to just be a theatre thing, or a music thing, or a K-State thing,” Turner said. “We want everybody to come.”

“It’s just an hour of community and camaraderie to celebrate the diversity within the arts,” Cranford said.