N*W*C play to combat racism, break down social barriers with laughter

Devon Jefferson

Rafael Agustin uses tough words, comedy and theater to combat racism and stereotypes. Thus the “N*gger Wetb*ck Ch*nk (N*W*C)” play is returning to Iowa State for the second time and is planning to break down the social barriers around the long lasting topic of racism through laughter.

On the bottom of the flyers that advertise the show, there is a small asterisk next to a small body of text that states, “Relax! It’s a comedy!” Yet, it is more than that.

Rafael Agustin, co-creator and performer for the “N*W*C” play and fellow cast members, Dionysio Basco and Jackson McQueen draw on their experiences from education, slam poetry and hip hop to redefine the live stage experience. Living by one mission statement, “Don’t be boring,” the crew members hope their play will enhance cultural awareness and artistic risk taking.

“I don’t care even if you are a white male, write your story. The last thing you need is someone to define your world,” Agustin said.

The “N*W*C” play draws from a rich heritage of not only the words themselves, but also the performers who are representing the stereotypes and their personal stories.

Agustin was undocumented in the U.S. for 14 years. He obtained his bachelor’s and master’s at UCLA and performed in numerous productions, including “Roosters.” It was not until he addressed his former professors about creating a social awareness production about race and stereotypes that the “N*W*C” play came to life.

“My old college professors, who are now my friends and co-owners of the company, were the first white people I told I was undocumented. I tell people all the time that’s like the equivalent of a gay person coming out of the closet,” Agustin said.

Since then, the play has been touring nonstop for over five years and the demand for their innovative take on the subject never seems to cease.

The production’s socially conscious approach to the subject makes the racism and prejudice real to the audience. The balance comes from the unique mixture of comedy and the step away from traditional theater makes for a compelling experience that knocks down the overwhelming shroud of racism and stereotypes with a modern approach. The goal of the performers is to make viewers put themselves in other people’s shoes and feel the experience while using comedy to bring together a sound community.

The Student Union Board decided to book the show again this fall in an approach to bring multicultural entertainment to campus.

“It’s a hard hitting subject that’s supposed to make you feel awkward, and that’s good because it brings about awareness,” said Natasha Porizkova, representative of the Student Union Board.

The play deals with the generational gap and more; the fall out of what these words mean and how they affect society today. Agustin says that dictionaries do not define words but give us popular uses for the words.

“That’s the beauty of language, no one can control it,” Agustin said.

Agustin states that there is a fine line between racial humor and a cheap racist laugh.

N*W*C will be at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, in the Great Hall.