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ESTA Celebrates Artists of Color with Cabaret

By Shelley Dean, Staff Writer

This past Saturday, March 6, the Emerging Student Theatre Artists (ESTA) Club on campus put on a cabaret that celebrated artists of color. With 13 artists from freshman to senior, this student-run cabaret was directed, proposed, edited and produced, completely by students. 

The show opened with freshman theatre arts major Ester Vianna doing a voice over on her experiences as a BIPoC artist. Vianna outlines a specific instance when a white actor was chosen over her for a role that was written for an actor of color.

“The colorblind casting was not a color conscious casting,” Vianna said. 

She detailed many instances where this turned out to be the case. After her voice over, Vianna sang a song from the role she was not chosen for, and this cabaret gave her that platform to do so.

Sophomore musical theatre major Luna Giovenella directed the cabaret, and worked hard to put it together. 

“I’ve had them send me songs that they want to sing, and songs that I’ve chosen for them because you have a limited repertoire to choose from as non-white people,” Giovenella said.

In the end, Giovenella put together a cabaret of songs that meant a lot to the actors singing them, as well as Giovenella herself. 

“Thankfully a lot of them have songs in their native languages they want to sing or songs from Brazillian musicals or things that we don’t typically look at from a western perspective,” Giovenella said.

Songs came from musicals and shows such as “In The Heights,” “Hamilton,” and “Coco.”

“I’m singing ‘Proud Corazon’ from ‘Coco.’ I’m singing in front of a gorgeous Puerto Rican flag in the background. This is one of the first times that I’ve been very open about my own cultural identities in the department,” junior musical theatre major Sophie Quiñones said.

This cabaret is special for Quiñones because she proposed it to the ESTA board, along with Yaya Muñoz. In her freshman year, Quiñones was in this show the first and only year it took place until this weekend. Quiñones hopes to make it an annual event. 

“Now as the diversity and inclusion member of the ESTA board, I brought this back because I think it’s very important to always make sure everyone’s voice is being heard, especially in theatre,” Quiñones said. 

Giovanella, Quiñones and Vianna wanted to put a message out to their theatre department and the rest of the campus with this cabaret.

“I think if there’s any message, it’s just: pay attention. Not necessarily that you have to enjoy this certain thing because this person did it or anything, but just like, here’s my space to speak and your space to listen,” Giovanella said. 

If students missed the cabaret this year, they can catch it in the years to come. 

“It’s going to be something very special you don’t want to miss,” Quiñones said. 

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