2004 Bruin Walk
GLIMPSES OF STUDENT LIFE
Photography by Carol Petersen Ph.D.
by Marina Dundjerski '94
"The only race that matters is the human
race." That's the message three UCLA theater students
are trying to convey through their explosive comedy, N*gger
Allan Axibal '04 (above, left), Rafael Agustin '04
(above, center) and Miles Gregley '04 (above, right) say they
use the terms throughout the play — a total of 564 times just
in the show's opening minutes — to "depower" the slurs, along
with the racial stereotypes of black, Latino and Asian cultures.
The trio began writing the play when they were community-college
classmates. After transferring to UCLA, they decided to collaborate
and star in the theater project. While the play uses humor, there
are also serious, poignant moments. All of it, they say, is based
on their own experiences.
Gregley, for example, recounts how while reading
Huckleberry Finn aloud in class one day, his teacher
stopped him mid-sentence and assigned another student to finish
the section, which contained the n-word. The world around him
turned to slow motion, he says, as he realized for the first time
that someone was connecting the word to him.
Although many of the trio's publicity posters across
campus were defaced or torn down, the show has developed a strong
following and booked full houses at UCLA's 500-seat Freud Playhouse.
One individual who saw the play wrote on the group's
Web site: "Don't judge until you see it. ... It is so positive
but still doesn't ignore how much pain there can be in this world
when you are different (or feel different). ... It is such a relief
to be able to laugh that hard about something as stressful as
racism. It makes me think that we actually will get over it all
The trio has also performed the play for high school
students and in the residence halls. Since then, RAs have held
floor discussions to talk about the issues raised in the play.
Being a catalyst for conversations on race and racism is precisely
what the three students say they are trying to accomplish. Says
Axibal, "If we want to dispel or eliminate a problem, we should
at least be able to have a conversation about it, and it's got
to start somewhere."