By Laken Franchetti, Staff Writer
Britney Brunache ’22, a senior theatre arts and psychology double major, always knew that theatre was going to play a major role in her time at Gettysburg College. In the summer of 2020, she wrote a play adaptation of the novel Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine by Bebe Moore Campbell. This sparked a deep interest in writing and directing her own piece of work. Now, a little over a year later, she is preparing to present her original play, It’s Not Black or White.
“It’s a historical fiction play about Haiti in 1960. It’s based on the dictatorship [of] the Duvalier regime,” Brunache explained. Her interest in this topic came from a documentary she watched months before beginning to write, and the exploration into her own heritage intrigued her as well.
“I found the topic interesting because I’m also Haitian,” Brunache said. “I didn’t know a lot about my Haitian history until I started watching this documentary. My parents were alive during that time, so being able to ask them what it was like during that dictatorship was very interesting.”
Inspired, she began the writing process. Brunache intends to pair It’s Not Black or White with an educational aspect by inviting a panel of family members to the play to talk to the audience about what it was like to live during that time.
The play, which Brunache plans to show from Nov. 20 through 21, showcases her writing and directing skills and serves as the culmination of her senior capstone project. Having completed two independent studies in directing, she always knew her capstone would involve her directing, yet the subject matter was never clear until a professor suggested she apply to the Kolbe Summer Fellows Program.
“My professor Susan Russell … was the one who nominated me to apply for the Fellowship. I didn’t think I could do it [at first], because normally, the people that get in are doing research projects or writing research papers. I didn’t know if me proposing to write a play would be good enough, but it was, and they were actually really interested in it,” Brunache recalled.
After finishing her first draft of the sixty-page play in one month, Brunache used the remaining month of her Kolbe Fellowship to revise, rewrite, and edit the play so that it would be ready to see the stage this fall.
Brunache is passionate about is giving first-year students the opportunity to be on stage, regardless of whether they have previous acting experience. Having heard first-years’ apprehensions to get involved in theater due to the suspected seniority of roles, Brunache wanted to take an approach to casting for her play that would allow first-years the opportunity to be featured in major roles. Additionally, she has been a voice for getting people of color onto the stage at Gettysburg College.
“Something that has been a mission of mine is to diversify the [theatre] department, because when I came in as a first-year, there were only two people of color. And so, every play that I direct, I make sure to have it be a predominantly colored play… I just want to make sure to have more inclusion with that, and so now with my capstone that was another thing that I [was thinking] about. Having people of color in theatre is very important to me.”
While her long-term goal remains directing, Brunache will be a high school English teacher in Philadelphia after graduating this spring, a job she secured through the Teach for America program last year.
This article originally appeared on page 17 of the September 24, 2021 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.