Take a moment and imagine yourself in the ’40s, in the midst of racism and discrimination. One individual defies all odds and becomes the first African American player in Major League Baseball.
This is the story of Jack Roosevelt Robinson, written and directed by CSUSB’s very own Carol Damgen.
I had the opportunity to interview Damgen and ask about her inspiration to create this tale about courage.
Throughout the years, Damgen has been very involved in the arts, ranging from theatre to television as well as teaching at CSUSB for the past 10 years.
Damgen was inspired by her childhood and love for heroes.
As a child, Damgen grew up going to baseball games immediately making her a fan of the sport.
However, the main inspiration came to Damgen when she realized that she loves heroes, especially “real heroes…pioneers, somebody who took a chance and put their own feelings and their own safety aside and decide that they were going to do something.”
It took Damgen about a month to get a complete first draft with a beginning, middle and end.
After the first draft was completed, Damgen continuously refined the text. Text refinements stopped in October, but according to Damgen the final refinements “happened not so long ago.”
Auditions for Jackie Robinson: An American Dream started during fall quarter.
Damgen had the idea of having her piece running during Black History Month and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
In order for the cast and crew to be able to accomplish such a task, rehearsals started during Nov. 2013 and ran throughout the holiday break.
Damgen praises her cast in being extremely dedicated, “If I didn’t have these students…. and wonderful stage/sound/lighting technician…if I didn’t have this really great collaborative team, there is no way…we could pull this off…I am so proud of the cast, they are wonderful and fantastic and so dedicated to telling the story, and they have been so wonderful to work with, I cant wait! Its been a long journey…I am sure I am going to tear up a little.”
This family friendly production revolves around the trials and tribulations that Jack Roosevelt Robinson, Branch Rickey and a fictional African American female reporter Ester Davis, as told through the eyes of an imaginary batboy who idolizes Robinson.
Jackie Robinson endures the hate for being the first African American baseball player on an all white team.
Branch Rickey faces hate for allowing an African American baseball player mix into an all white.
Ester Davis faces the difficulty of not only being a female sports reporter, but being of color as well.
This play is centered on showing the strength, courage, determination and the risk to follow a dream to change the world and open doors to others to follow.