When Camille Thomas got an email from Lynn Lammers to all theatre majors requesting participation in “Transforming Theatre Ensemble” or TTE, she was immediately captured by it. TTE is a program that is shaped around social justice and advocacy, facets of her life that are particularly important to her. Since becoming involved in TTE, two years ago, Camille’s awareness has grown, concerning issues that go on in the world every day. “It’s always fun to come together to do a show and know you’re impacting the community,” said Thomas. “It’s also interesting when people don’t realize what was wrong with the scenario that we are acting out.”
Based on Augusto Boal’s “Theatre of the Oppressed,” TTE uses a myriad of theatrical formats, followed by interactive discussions, to engage faculty, staff, students and community audiences in collaborative settings geared towards problem-solving. A few of the themes that they’ve covered are discrimination, gender roles, workplace conduct, and cultural competence in healthcare. “People will notice their own [problematic] behaviors and interrupt those and be a part of the solutions,” Lynn Lammers, program coordinator, said. “We want these conversations to induce lots of self-reflection.”
While Camille has been involved with TTE for two years, she has been acting for seven. Camille has worked with established actors such as Matthew Broderick and Samira Wiley as an acting apprentice with the Williamstown Theatre Festival, worked with incarcerated youth through one of her classes in RCAH, and even acted abroad in Ethiopia for one month while using American Sign Language (ASL)to teach children the English language. Earlier this year, when all Starbucks locations went through a company-wide series of diversity trainings, Camille had the opportunity to act with TTE for the MSU Starbucks locations’ diversity trainings. “Racial biases and gender biases are always around,” Thomas said. “You need to be aware.”
Camille is currently a senior graduating in May with a degree in Theatre from the College of Arts & Letters and a degree in Arts and Humanities from the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities. She will graduate next May and move to New York City to begin her professional acting career where she hopes to intern with the Manhattan Theatre Club. We have a feeling that we’ll be seeing her work very soon.