“The Meeting” is performed as a live stage reading and described as “a fascinating and eloquent play that depicts the supposed meeting of two of the most important men in modern times…differing in their philosophies, but alike in their mutual respect. The two men debate their varying approaches to the same grave social problems.”
Though the situation is fictional, the main characters in “The Meeting” are based on two of history’s greatest advocates in human rights: Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
“The reading gives us a very good pictorial of what could possibly have happened,” said Ernest Bridges, instructor of African-American studies and umoja host.
The production was just one of many special events held in recognition of Black History Month and was hosted by the Umoja Community at the Wilshire Auditorium.
“My hope is that the audience takes away a deeper and greater understanding of who these great icons in history were,” said Kenneth Robinson, Director of Equity and Diversity, North Orange County Community College District.”That they take away a deeper sensitivity towards social justice issues.”
Robinson was inspired to host the performance at Fullerton College after he attended a performance of “The Meeting” last spring at Cal State Fullerton.
“It’s wonderful that students, who weren’t born when Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were alive, get a chance to see their differing philosophies in this interesting portrayal,” Robinson said. “They get to see it live and with professional actors and it’s not just for the African-American community, but for everyone. It puts the ‘community’ in ‘community college.'”
Indeed, the production drew a diverse crowd, which is a testament to just how transformative the advent of the Civil Rights movement has been in constructing the world we live in today.
“We have a society that is made up of immigrants, some who came voluntarily, others who were opposed to it,” said Dr. Rajen Vurdien, President of Fullerton College. “But we are creating a system that will support everybody.”
In the play, Dr. King goes to meet Malcolm X at his hotel room, where they initially butted heads.
Throughout the play, however, the men seem to reach an understanding of the other, despite their glaring differences and even find that they have more in common than they had previously thought.
Stetson’s play provided a unique and educative experience for its audience by giving them a sobering dose of reality through the rendering of a hypothetical situation.
Much of the script was punctuated throughout with real quotes said by either Dr. King or Malcolm X, as well as references to real events that had occurred in their lives.
Unsurprisingly, “The Meeting” was inherently heavy and at times even heart-breaking, but there were moments of light-hearted banter and unexpected humor that helped to lessen the weight of the play.
There was no second-guessing on whether Stetson successfully integrated two fundamentally different concepts (fiction and history) seamlessly into one package; the standing ovation and enthusiastic applause from the crowd said it all.