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Three’s a crowd in Once in a Wifetime

BY Karen Reardanz

Once in a Wifetime, by Celeste Walker, sensitively tackles the problem of infidelity and how one African American community propose to deal with the situation. The script is entertaining, and the actors have put a good deal of work into the production, evident in the realistic portrayals of emotions by the actors and the smooth continuity of the show.

The African-American Theater Arts Troop (AATAT) put on the play Once in a Wifetime last weekend at the UCSC Concert Hall. It is a comical piece set in the 1970’s, revolving around a man, his wife, and a new woman he wants to bring into their home as his second wide. Willie, the husband, gets his ideas from a Pan-African organization which pushes the resurrection of the patriarchal system in its ultimate form-polygamy.

A polygamous marriage, many of the characters claim, is a 360 degree circle of love with no beginning and no end. Willie’s wife Irma however, does not see this as love-she sees it as a betrayal and an insult.

The tension in the play culminates in one of the powerful scenes when Willie marries his second bride in a ceremonial wedding. The scene is filled with pounding drums, tribal dancing, and the jealousy, strain, anger and betrayal that Irma feels towards dher husband and his new "wife".

Many cheer for AATAT, who do a great job of putting the show together. The level of professionalism is amazing, especially considering this play features a group of largely non-theater arts majors exploring acting. The convey the characters’ emotions and conflicts truthfully. And through it all, the humorous element is never lost.

Nancy Williams, of African American Student Life, said she sees the troop bringing a sense of community to the black students on campus, and that this adds to the professionalism of the show. "it’s a major avenue for students to have a sense of belonging and inclusion through the arts," she said. "I hope the theater arts department will embrace it so it can flourish and grow."

Wifetime actor Kadija Yansane agreed with williams. "It’s part of a support system for black students. You get to know people you only used to occasionally see," Yansane said. "It’s like a family." This "family" is instrumental in creating a wonderful performance.

However, there is one problem with the play. While Once in a Wifetime examines the weighty subject of infidelity with humor and feeling, the finale is a bit rushed. It seemed unrealistic that such a volatile issue could be wrapped up so easily.

But overall, the members of AATAT should be proud. "they put in double time," said Don Wiliams, the show’s director. "They were determined to put on a good production."

The play is a part of Black History Month, and most of the people involved in the production believe it is part of the celebration of black culture. "The play is a depiction of an aspect of African Americans, especially women," Williams said. "I think this fits in very well."

Once in a Wifetime is also being performed this Friday and Saturday night at the Louden Nelson Center at 8 p.m.

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