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Residence Community Celebrates Diversity in Searchlight Stories
April 4, 2007

If someone were to ask you what the word “home” means to you, how would you answer? The question may seem simple at first, but as the students in the Trent Global Living Community (TGLC) illustrated in their recent cultural theatre production, Searchlight Stories, the word “home” can have many different meanings.  

Searchlight Stories was held in NOZHEM: the First Peoples House of Learning from April 1 to 3. The production aimed to illustrate how a generation of people who live in a diverse and growingly interconnected world interpret the meaning of “home”.

Celebrating the internationality of the TGLC, a residence life community at Trent, the performance incorporated each student’s personal experiences and backgrounds from different cultures around the globe. Together, the cast members’ own stories reflected a joint travel towards “home”.

The cast included students Alexandra Lord from Canada and the United States, Anna Smol whose background is Polish-Canadian, Evan Sztricsko from Canada, Francisco ‘Paco’ Bernal from Mexico, Kemi Akapo from Nigeria and Burkina Faso, Petarapa ‘natalie’ Padungpat from Thailand and Norway, Riahl O’Malley from the United States. Naja Dyrendom Graugaard from Denmark directed the production, which was supported by Master Stephen Brown and the Champlain College Office, Michael Allcott and the Trent International Program, and Trent University Housing Services.

First-year student and director Naja Dyrendom Graugaard started getting the acting troupe together in January 2007. Students instantly became interested, and were asked to write their own personal stories. Ms. Graugaard says, “The idea behind the play was to facilitate a chance for a group of Trent students - Canadian as well as international - to express their thoughts on what home means in a growingly interconnected world.”

Ms. Graugaard continues, “The play represents individual experiences and together it symbolizes a joint travel towards the discovery of home. In Searchlight Stories, [the cast] wanted to leave some things unresolved and the message is, in that sense, left for the spectator to reflect upon. However, it can be stressed that the travelers in the play united in the end - as a reminder of the connection between human beings and to stress that our travel in life is not necessarily solitary.”

Second-year student and performer Kemi Akapo described her inspiration for the writing of her character, by saying: “My character was me. It was inspired by my Nigerian culture, with our native dress, our dance, and especially by our drums.  Our drums tell stories.”

Another actress in Searchlight Stories was first-year student Alexandra Lord. Ms. Lord, who played the Ballerina in Searchlight Stories, described the importance of a play of this stature by saying: “I think that it is important for Trent to present these types of plays because the Trent community itself is a vastly diverse one. And I think the most effective way of learning from these different cultures is to work together, and avoid limiting ourselves to experiencing only what is comfortable and familiar. In which case plays such as Searchlight Stories provides such an opportunity not only for the cast members but also for the audience and I hope that in the future, opportunities such as these will become increasingly accessible for Trent students, faculty and the Peterborough community at large.”

Enthusiastic first-year Trent Student, Parker Glynn-Adey enjoyed seeing Searchlight Stories so much that he saw it both opening and closing nights. Mr. Glynn-Adey described the play as “rich and remarkable” and said that “the drama in Searchlight is emotional and spiritual drama of the highest kind.”

Over 130 Trent students, faculty and staff attended the show.

Written by Brandon Smith, Trent student and don of the TGLC.