Theater shines light on pledge


Kent State’s School of Theatre and Dance casts its cellphone lights into the air to join the Ghostlight Project in E. Turner Stump Theatre on Thursday night, Jan. 19, 2017. 

Jenna Kuczkowski

Correction: A previous version of this article mispelled a source’s name as Joni Konevai. The correct spelling is Joni Koneval.

“How will you be a light?”

This is what associate professor of theatre Fabio Polanco, asked students in the dark Performing Arts Center as they accepted the pledge of the Ghostlight Project by simultaneously illuminating the auditorium with each of their phone flashlights.

The Ghostlight Project is inspired by the tradition of leaving a “ghost light” on in a darkened theater, so that when a theater goes dark at the end of the night, safety and visibility remains for all who enter. The initiative of the project is to create something they call “brave spaces” to promote inclusion, compassion and acceptance in the theater and in the community.

Thursday night, the School of Theatre and Dance joined more than 500 theaters and theatre programs across the nation as it affirmed its commitment to the pledge together at 5:30 p.m. Students of the school took the pledge to help safeguard any among them who finds themselves targeted because of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, gender identity, sexual identity or any other reason.

During the short pledge ceremony, Polanco told students their lights symbolize hope, which is made possible through their actions. 

“It’s important that the theater is a safe space because we’re creating art here that espouses all values, all beliefs, and represents everyone,” said Joni Koneval, a marketing associate for the School of Theatre and Dance. “We, as members of the school, are part of a very diverse community, so we want this community to be a safe space for all of us and for anyone else.”

Koneval was also the one who noticed the Ghostlight Project online as it was gaining national attention and support, and he said the school decided to support the project because it was already in line with their values in the college.

“I think it’s really nice to be united by a cause, even though we all do already consider the theater a safe space, but it’s nice to just say it so everybody knows incase they didn’t,” said Ryann Marchetti, a senior theatre studies major who attended the ceremony. “I feel like it’s important for people to know there’s a place they can go where everyone supports them, and they can be whoever they want to be.”

Rebecca Rand, a junior theatre studies major, who also attended the program, agreed with Marchetti and said she likes the idea of students coming together to support one and other.

“Spaces like these are something that we as a society need to ban together to maintain, especially in the upcoming years based on some political events,” Rand said. “I felt taking the pledge brought us closer together as a Kent State family and made it known that we’re all fighting for the same cause.”

Jenna Kuczkowski is the general assignment editor, contact her at [email protected].