GLOVERSVILLE - Johnstown High School 12th-grader Jerry Groom didn't know a lot about genocide in other countries before he watched the play "In Darfur" at the Glove Performing Arts Center on Wednesday.
"I learned that genocide is still going on in other countries, but there isn't much I can do about it," Groom said after the performance. "Because we can't really do anything about it, this play was primarily informational to me."
Johnstown High School brought Groom and other students to the play Wednesday.
Johnstown High School students watch actresses Omonike Akinyemi, left, and Larissa Groesbeck perform in a scene from the play “In Darfur” at the Glove Performing Arts Center in Gloversville on Wednesday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
The Glove Performing Arts Center is hosting six high schools from Fulton and Montgomery counties this week to watch the play.
"In Darfur" is an account of three intertwined lives at a camp for displaced people in Darfur, Sudan. The story follows an aid worker's mission to save and protect lives, a journalist's pursuit to deliver a story and a Darfuri woman's quest for safety.
A news release from the theater said, "It is a searing story of urgency and international significance."
In 2003, Darfuri rebel movements took up arms against the Sudanese government. Militias then attacked villages in Darfur. Thousands were killed and many others displaced.
High school students have been going to the play since Tuesday and will continue until Friday.
About 900 students from six schools will attend the performance. The school districts include Gloversville, Johnstown, Northville, Galway, St. Johnsville and Oppenheim-Ephratah, said Richard Samrov, theater executive director and chairman of programming.
Glove Board President Mark Finkle said he has been working for about a year and a half to get the play to come to the theater after he watched it in Washington, D.C.
"I realized that kids up here know nothing about what has happened over there or have any knowledge of where Darfur even [is]," said Finkle. "Part of the mission of a small theater like ours is to use it for education, and I just felt it was an important story to tell about the genocide that still occurs."
Finkle said he talked to the author of the play and she allowed the theater to have it at a discounted price because it is showing the play to schools.
"Hopefully, after viewing the play, students may appreciate the political climate here more or decide to get involved to stop what has happened from continuing," Finkle said.
Finkle said while the play's primary focus is on the genocide in Darfur, it also incorporates the theme of violence against women in the Third World and the role of the press in society.
Gloversville High School was contacted by Finkle about the opportunity for students to attend the play for free, said Principal Richard DeMallie.
DeMallie said the school decided it was a great opportunity for students to experience history.
"We also wanted to expand our students' minds to make them aware that there are still things like genocide and cultural inequality going on in the world today," DeMallie said. "A lot of students today aren't aware of the things going on in Darfur. When kids think of genocide, many of them will think about Hitler and Germany and don't see it expanding into other places like it has in recent history."
He said the school offered the opportunity to all students at the high school. Gloversville students will see the play today and Friday.
Johnstown students watched the play Wednesday.
"It was really sad to see all this stuff happens to people," 10th-grader Julianna Kopa said.
"If this has been going on this whole time, why don't more people know about this?" said 10th-grader Che White.
Actor Joshua Daly, a Gloversville High School student, said after his performance the play allowed him to be a part of something bigger than himself. He said he was honored to help bring the story to his peers.
"It lets people know to not take life for granted and don't get upset over such petty things like traffic tickets or fines because people in other countries are facing death every day. It makes me proud to live in the country that I do," he said.
The program is funded in part by the Fulton-Montgomery Arts Grants part of the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council of the Arts, administered by the Saratoga Arts Council. The play has a cast of seven people.
The show will be open to the public Friday at 7 p.m. Tickets will cost $8 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.
For more information or tickets, call the box office at 773-8255, Ext. 25, or go to the website, www.glovetheatre.org.
Levi Pascher covers Gloversville news. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.