By Sarah Carlson, Arts Editor
Two successful brothers must come to terms with their pasts and individual stereotypes in “At Our Highest,” the ninth annual Black History Production running at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Cullen Auditorium.
One is a rap star, the other a lawyer. Though both have risen to their highest point professionally, they both feel something is missing and must learn that success means nothing without unity with each other and within their culture, said Shelby Coates, director of the production.
“They both fall into these stereotypes and leave each other behind,” Coates said, adding that both a lawyer and a rap star can be judged by their friends and family as either not amounting to much or selling out for money. “You can be just as successful no matter what side of the coin you’re on.”
Coates, sophomore broadcast journalism major from Clarksville, Tenn., auditioned for the part of director almost a year ago, presenting her story concept to the officers of Essence of Ebony and La Shae Grottis, director of the Office of Student Multicultural Enrichment, who selected her. Work began on the production in April, Coates spent the summer writing the script and by October, rehearsals began.
“At Our Highest” begins with a fight between the brothers and then goes back in time, examining the brothers’ roots in a 1996 Memphis, Tenn., high school. Coates said the play makes one think about their own prejudices, especially when they find themselves choosing a side and blaming one brother more than the other for their divide.
“You get to sit in on their rises and falls, the good times and the bad,” she said. “It’s deep and also entertaining.”
Tickets cost $4 a person and children 10-years-old and younger get in free. Special $2 group rates are available for groups of eight or more, which includes social clubs.
Coates said she’s enjoyed her experience on the production and said being a director proved more challenging than she’d thought. The cast members provided support and were all team players, she said, and she’s looking forward to the end of the run so she can sleep.
“I have so much homework,” she said. “It’s so sad. My teacher’s probably think ‘she never comes to class.'”