San Joaquin Delta College hosted “Stockton Twenty-One” in the Atherton Auditorium Oct. 6-7.
Presented by Youth Speaks and Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, the play pushes audience members to think about the destiny of future generations in Stockton and rethink our foster care system and its adverse effects on minority groups.
Written by Paul S. Flores and directed by Sean San Jose’, the play follows vigilante Ninyo as he tries to help 21 individuals reunite with their families.
The play takes place in a dystopian Stockton set 25 years in the future. A company called GrupeTech dominates society and eventually takes over Stockton’s government.
GrupeTech offers new jobs and free advanced technology to Stockton’s citizens, but in return their fingerprints and DNA are owned by GrupeTech and used as a deportation tool.
Ninyo urges specific individuals who are victims to the justice system to erase their fingerprints from GrupeTech’s system in order to start anew and be with their loved ones.
The play was inspired by various real life stories from people who were on probation and had to deal with the stress and trauma that came with being tossed into the justice system.
Flores shadowed people, interviewed them about their personal stories and then had them write about their experiences with the police.
“Stockton Twenty-One” grapples with morality issues and begs the question of are crimes morally justifiable if done to get out of poverty.
“I want the audience to be a little shocked but I really want them to ask questions about Stockton’s future and social workers’ effect on society,” said Flores.
The play had a minimalist set that utilized projections and lighting to change the backgrounds or signify a flashback.
A stand-out performance came from Michael Wayne Turner III, who played Maceo, an adopted African American and Mexican man. His flamboyant delivery of every line and how he danced while rapping made him a crowd favorite. Though his performance seemed slightly forced at times, Turner succeeded in making his character relatable.
After the play was over, the cast and Flores held a question and answer segment so the audience could learn more about what inspired the play.
“I hope the play unifies black and brown people. Not just physically but politically, psychologically and mentally because… we are fighting the same battles,” said Turner.
One of the individual’s whose story inspired “Stockton Twenty-One” was a part of the audience.
“Stockton Twenty-One” was originally named ‘Pilgrim Street’ but was changed in order to protect the identities of the individuals who the play was based on.
“It was very inspiring to hear about stories from people I had never really thought about before and places in Stockton I had never been,” said student Elijah Little.
The next performance will be at Alcatraz Island on Nov. 17 with Gregory Sale’s “Future IDs” art installation.