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FTT to stage ‘This is Modern Art’ at DPAC

| Wednesday, November 10, 2021

“Watching ‘This is Modern Art’ is a chance to really think critically about how this world works for artists and artists of color, what art has to offer and what it means in history and in everyday life,” lead actor of the show Eric Ways (’18) explained.

Notre Dame’s department of film, television and theatre or FTT’s production of “This is Modern Art,” directed by class of 2014 graduate Zuri Eshun, will be performed this week Wednesday through Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in the Patricia George Decio Theatre at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. 

Courtesy of Stacey Stewart
Eric Ways and Lyric Medeiros play Seven, the leader of the group, and Selena, his girlfriend in the show, respectively.

“This is Modern Art” by Idris Goodwin and Kevin Coval tells the story of a group of four graffiti artists in Chicago who “are trying to redefine what people consider art,” actor and senior Lamont Marino said. The artists — Seven (Ways), Dose (Marino), Selena (junior Lyric Medeiros) and J.C. (senior Timothy Merkle) — have “dreams and aspirations that expand outside of the circumstances that they currently live in,” Ways said, and the show follows their story.

“This show is about giving the artists in the margins a voice,” Ways said.  

The youthful show is filled with impactful moments, both funny and serious, and gives the audience a chance to engage and have fun with the characters.

“I love watching theatre when the actors are very connected, are having a good time and really tell a great story with a message,” Medeiros said. “People should expect a moving story, a story that will give them a new perspective of what graffiti is and what it all stands for.” 

Ways added that the audience should be ready to experience a wide range of emotions.

“The audience should be ready to think critically. They should be ready to laugh. They should be ready to cry,” Ways said.

Ways also discussed his excitement about working with a cast that is majority people of color and working with a director of color for the first time on a Notre Dame stage.

“I’m really excited that we, a group of people of color, can show the University what this experience is like.” 

Other members of the cast share this joy, including Marino, who feels connected to his character, Dose, in the commonalities that they share, such as both being Afro-Latino.

It’s super refreshing to be around people who have a free nature and are trying to put on a show that will discuss issues in the communities that an all-white cast might not be able to because they are sensitive topics in the Black community or Hispanic community,” he said. 

Alumni Eshun and Ways returned to campus to work with the FTT department and current students on the production. Medeiros is excited to be working with professionals in the industry who are so open to teaching the students involved.

“Notre Dame alumni are coming back because they love Notre Dame, and they love teaching Notre Dame students because they’re so special and hard-working,” she said.

Courtesy of Stacey Stewart
The cast of “This is Modern Art” consists of 12 Notre Dame students and graduates.

On the other side, Ways said he is impressed by the gifted students at Notre Dame.

“Everyone has been really professional and is really talented,” he said. “I’m excited to see where they go after this.” 

Marino added that he is excited for audience members to see the talent of Notre Dame artists and address important topics of art.

“Be open-minded, and be prepared to be entertained for an hour and a half,” he said. 

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Marino’s class year. The Observer regrets this error.

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