A communal effort

The production of “Pipeline” involves more than 20 ASU students, who are responsible for everything from acting to lighting design to stage management.

For Shayna Padjen, a theater and literature major, taking on the responsibility of costume design was a new experience.

“I had experience on the stage, but never really much behind the scenes,” Padjen said.

She said one thing that has made this production special is the focus on community throughout the process.

“Everyone is there when they can be — even every design member. Everyone is part of the rehearsals,” she said. “It’s become such a community. I’ve never experienced something like this before. With a story like this, it’s especially important.”

Padjen wanted to be part of the production when she learned about the story.

“Education is a topic that’s very important to me,” she said. “Knowing that was what the show was about made it even more important.”

Acting and fashion major Sean Schuljak also felt drawn to the importance of education and teachers in this play.

Schuljak plays the role of LaurieActing and fashion major Sean Schuljak uses "he/him" pronouns and plays the part of "Laurie," who uses "she/her" pronouns., an opinionated school teacher in her 50s who works to advocate for her students, despite an apathetic administration.

“My mom is a teacher, and in playing this role I learned a lot about the issues teachers deal with,” Schuljak said. “I learned how teachers are really trying to stand up and get kids the help they need.”

Schuljak said that Ortiz-Barnett has worked hard to provide opportunities for every student.

“I’m super excited to be showcased in such an amazing show,” he said. “As a member of the LGBTQ-plus community, I felt it was really powerful to be able to show what my community can do, to play this role and to have my own take on it.”

Nya Udengwu is a theater major who plays the role of Jasmine, the main character’s girlfriend.

“In some ways, she’s the comic relief,” Udengwu said. “You see her grow through the play and develop into her own.”

Udengwu said she really enjoyed bringing a bit of herself to the role, especially speaking on stage the way she does at home around family.

“It was a different experience to feel comfortable that way on stage,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed bringing a bit of myself to this role.”

She said despite balancing work, school, family and other responsibilities alongside rehearsals, it has been a worthwhile undertaking.

“I’ve had a lot of fun working with the cast,” Udengwu said. “I’m really proud of what we’re doing.”

To present “Pipeline,” ASU Black Theatre Organization has partnered with the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, ASU Multicultural Communities of Excellence, ASU Graduate College and Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts Culture and Access department. Additional support, including snacks and crew meals, has been provided by local business Detroit Coney Grill.

The show is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Reservations are highly recommended.

Presented by the ASU Black Theatre Organization
7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 and 25
2 p.m. Feb. 26
Nelson Fine Arts Center, Room 133
Tempe campus

Lacy Chaffee

Media and communications coordinator, School of Music, Dance and Theatre