‘Serenade of the Silent Soul’ speaks out on inequality


Travis Moody | The Daily Eastern News The company of “Serenade of the Silent Soul” holds up signs relating to issues concerning social justice. The black tape on their mouth symbolizes the silent soul of marginalized groups.

Travis Moody, Staff Reporter

With only one week to practice, a cast of 10 Eastern students performed a show Saturday and Sunday that focused on racial and social issues in America.

“Serenade of the Silent Soul” was directed by Ron Himes, founder and director of the St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre and featured many different pieces centering around inequality. These pieces included a variety of songs, poetry and monologues.

Most of the pieces centered around racial inequality, but others featured topics such as homophobia, xenophobia and rape culture.

Before the performance, each seat in the audience had a picture and name of an African-American who lost their life because of police brutality. The show ended with the company sharing the names of the victims.

Himes said it has been a significant amount of time since he directed such a time-constrained performance, adding that only having a week to put the show together gave the students a sense of discipline.

“I think the performance and the response to the performance develops their esteem,” he said.

Himes said he hopes the students continue to develop in their craft.

Grace Eldridge, a freshman theater arts major, said there was a lot of deliberation when it came to choosing a name for the show.

“We had a lot of names going around, but (the one we chose) just sounded right,” Eldridge said. “We were silent souls as we came out with the black tape on (our mouths,) which was a significant part.”

Each student composed their own monologue, which they then performed near the end of the show. Other monologues featured in the show were chosen by Himes.

“We took our passion about the subject and just put it into a show,” Eldridge said.

Eldridge said Himes gave them only 15 minutes to put together their monologues on the first day of rehearsal.

For her monologue, Eldridge chose the theme of equality and the importance of understanding that no one person is better than another based on their skin color.

“Hopefully, it will change people’s viewpoints on how they see things,” Eldridge said. “If they have a certain bias, hopefully they’ll change it and become better after the show.”

Eldridge noted the importance of working with Himes as a black director and founder and director of the St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre.

“It was worth it, and working with him was such a great experience,” Eldridge said. “Even after I graduate, I plan to do an internship at the Black Repertory Theatre.”

Eldridge said everyone involved grew close over the week, and the company even began calling Himes “Uncle Ron.”

Himes said he enjoyed working with the company and believes everyone learned a lot from the experience.

“(My stay at Eastern) has been good,” Himes said. “I enjoyed working with the students. They were challenging, eager to learn and so talented. We had a good time this week creating this piece.”

Although there were only 10 students who participated, Eldridge said they still had a big voice.

“It shows unity and diversity. This show was such a great thing to do, and I was so glad to be part of it,” she said.

Travis Moody can be reached at 518-2812 or at [email protected].