News & Events

UMPI to host comedy on absurdity of prejudice, power of diversity

As part of its programming for Black History Month in February, the University of Maine at Presque Isle will host the Black-Jew Dialogues—a two-actor comedy that deals with prejudice and multiculturalism in an innovative way—on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m., in the auditorium at Wieden Hall. The show is free and the public is invited to attend (performance is rated PG-13).

The Black-Jew Dialogues is an entertaining, thought-provoking performance that explores the absurdity of prejudice and racism and the power of diversity. The program combines fast-paced sketches and improvisation with multi-media, puppets, and a game show, and includes a post-show discussion. This mixture of media, theater, and dialogue creates a show that has gained praise from universities, high schools, synagogues, and theatres across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.

Created to begin a new discussion about race and diversity in America, this provocative comedy models cross-generational as well as cross-cultural dialogue. The goal of the show is to promote open, honest and respectful conversations about our differences and move audiences into action. Produced by Emmy-award winner Ron Jones and veteran performer Larry Jay Tish, the BJD is an exhilarating and insightful look at the state of race and cultural relations in America.

Jones and Tish chose the name “Black-Jew Dialogues” to show how two seemingly opposite ethnicities (a black man and a Jewish man) are in reality very much alike. Playing two students working on a class project about cross-cultural dialogue, the duo takes the audience on a hysterical and poignant ride. The characters themselves, a traditional student and adult student, represent a sample of the types of diversity present today. The resulting discussion challenges both baby boomers and millennials to critically examine the world around them in order to understand the true nature of diversity and how it has evolved in the 21st century.

“We decided to bring this group to campus because they address diversity in a funny, comedic, but very poignant and thought-provoking way,” Vanessa Pearson, Coordinator of Student Activities and Leadership Development, said. “With our ever increasingly diverse society, this performance explores the true nature of prejudice and how our inability to face our biases separates us in ways we might not even be aware of. Most importantly, it causes us to really think about our beliefs and why we have them.”

Tish is an actor, writer, poet, improv performer, and educator. Some of his recent film and TV credits include the lead in the independent film Dangerous Crosswinds, Professor Fritz on The New England Patriots’ Totally Patriots, the host of the documentaryQuestion Freedom, and Dr. Joseph Warren in the BBC production Brothers at War. Tish has published poetry, short fiction, travel writing, and journalism. He has also performed his critically acclaimed one-man show, Everything Hurts, to sold out crowds in Boston and is a founding member of StageCoach Improv, which performs improv comedy and teaches improv skills to business and legal professionals.

Jones has been an actor, director, and trainer for over 20 years. He has been a performing member of such troupes as ImprovBoston, StageCoach Improv, and the U.S. Improvisational Theater League. He also has served as the Artistic Director and Director of Operations for Improv Boston, the area’s longest running and most acclaimed troupe. Jones has taught improvisation classes as Harvard University, Wheelock College, Tufts University, and Curry College. He is a founding member of the program Urban Improv, which won an EMMY Award in 2002 for Best Children’s Programming for the television program re:Action.

To learn more about the Black-Jew Dialogues, please visit http://dialoguesondiversity.com/thebjd. For more information about this event, please call 768-9452 or email info@maine.edu.