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FORT GREENE, Brooklyn (PIX11) — Theatre goes beyond entertainment and many times, there’s an educational purpose that comes with a show and you’ll learn a thing or two in the upcoming Brooklyn play “Voices Be Heard: The Musical.”

At Irondale Theater in Brooklyn, the young actresses in the performance address topics like mental health, immigration and more issues communities face today. They also wrote the play themselves.

Angelica Torres is the director and choreographer.

“Bringing the platform and the music and everything to these voices and all the messages that these girls are bringing is amazing and I hope people can come and see it,” Torres said.

It tells the story of six young women who live in the same New York City building, but have never met because of their busy lives at work and school. That is until a blackout brings them together in the same apartment to share their life stories.

Haley Lopes plays Selena Mendez, who is a dreamer — a DACA recipient — whose parents were deported. 

“Dreamers are like your average everyday Americans,” Lopes said. “You would never be able to spot them out in a crowd because they speak English. They’re from here, they’re American, so I think it is important to have compassion regarding immigration issues and people who do come to this country.”

Jamilah Rosemond, the lead singer, plays Janelle Banks, a medical student who wants to pursue singing instead.

Banks is also facing institutionalized racism at college. Rosemond told PIX111 she can relate to the character’s struggles.

“Going to a predominantly white institution, sometimes you often feel that lack of support or that underestimating from your professors, but I feel like the difference between my character and me is I kind of have that confidence now to keep going,” Rosemond said.

Meera Dasgupta, who plays Maya, said they want the audience to be aware of the issues happening in the play. With that knowledge, they said they want people to go and make change in the real world.
“By leaning into each other you can find so much support and find ways in which we can collectivize towards our future because these are our futures and for the next generations as well,” Dasgupta said.

The play is put on by Girl Be Heard, a Brooklyn-based organization that uses theater to speak up against social and gender injustice.

Chiwoniso Kaitano is the executive director and said they try to build a sisterhood and space to be yourself knowing you’re with people who like you.

“At our core, we’re a social justice organization and we bring people together to talk about the issues that young people care about and issues affecting women,” Kaitano said.

Kaitano adds that the organization puts their money where their mouth by paying the participants for these performances because they respect the value and labor put in.

Voices Be Heard is the first performance for the organization since the pandemic started and hits the stage at Irondale Theater on June 21 and June 22. For more information on tickets, click here.