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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Student organization brings inclusion to Texas State Theatre

Take+5
Take 5

What started out as an idea for a school project in P&P 101: Entrepreneurial Theatre-Making class has brought five students together to create something bigger than themselves, an inclusive theater group called Take 5 who are willing to take on any artistic endeavor
In the fall of 2021, Jessie Bess ll, theatre junior and founder of Take 5, pitched the idea of Take 5, a club that focused on having a safe and collaborative network for people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds and their allies to create, to her theater class. Many students took an interest, including Elisa Pedraza, theatre junior and president of Take 5.
Pedraza and her classmates, Bess, Connor B. Duncan, Rheagan Higgins, and Brooklyn Turner began to form the structure and leadership of the club and then began to consider officially forming the club for other students to join. Pedraza saw that the organization had the potential to greatly impact Texas State Theatre.
“Knowing that there are barely any people of color in our theater faculty, we thought, ‘why not actually do it?'” Pedraza said. “It was a work of love and something that we wanted to really do.”
After much work, discussions with faculty and waiting on approvals, Take 5 became an official club for members to join in the fall of 2022. Actors, playwrights and all types of creative Bobcats meet at 6:30 p.m. in the Theatre Center in room 201 every other Wednesday.
The club is not exclusive to just theater or film majors but to anyone who wants to learn more about the creative process, make friends and have fun. Pedraza said that inclusion is key with Take 5.
“Diversity looks more than just beyond race,” Pedraza said. “Neurodivergence, sexuality, gender. We’re not excluding anyone.”
Connor B. Duncan, theatre sophomore and Take 5 treasurer said anyone is welcome to the meetings. Meetings consist of discussions about entertainment, semester projects and work opportunities for students on and off campus.
“One of my favorite things to do is to bring people together and create art,” Duncan said. “And I feel like that’s what Take 5 is doing.”
In addition to meetings, Take 5 hosts workshops covering a variety of skills for creative minds to learn. From playwriting with Sidney Rushing, professor of playwriting at Texas State, to taking director tips from Yong-Suk Yoo, professor of stage directing at Texas State, Pedraza said she likes to highlight theater faculty who are people of color because their experiences are much different than members of faculty who are white.
“Last semester, we had a directors workshop and a playwriting workshop,” Pedraza said. “We wanted to work with these professors because there’s something that they can teach us that we can’t get from our white counterparts.”
Currently, Take 5 is finishing up its film project “New Preys,” an emotional drama set in a high school in Mexico. “New Preys” is an original short film that Natalia Navarrete, a theatre sophomore and Take 5’s public relations officer, pitched last semester during a Take 5 pitch session.
At these pitch sessions, any student can bring their ideas for plays, films or even music videos to the group who then vote for the project that will be worked on in the next semester. When Navarrete brought her script to be read, the group loved it and got into casting mode, revising the script with the help of Rheagan Higgins, theatre junior and vice president of Take 5.
Camila Flores, a theatre sophomore, plays the role of Anita, a cynical and complex teenager in “New Preys.” She didn’t know about Take 5 until a friend suggested that Flores audition for the short film. Coming from a town that wasn’t very inclusive, Flores appreciated that Take 5 is a club that welcomes everyone no matter their background or skill set.
“I was looking for something like this because I come from Del Rio, Texas, a town which holds a really old mindset,” Flores said. “I love how Take 5 includes everybody and they embrace that so well.”
Unique stories like “New Preys,” would not be possible to tell without the help of a diverse cast and crew. Pedraza said the entertainment industry is hard to break into, especially for minorities. She said that for much of cinema and the arts in history, white people have dominated the screens and been recognized for their talents. She said there are more steps for creative people of color to take in order to be on an equal level.
“Our white counterparts have been able to make more money just because of systemic oppression,” Pedraza said. “If we can provide that safe space and inclusion at a college level, then that’s going to help more when we go out into the real world.”
Duncan said safe spaces like Take 5 are needed because it’s important to make people comfortable while they create. They need places where they can let their guard down, be in the moment and enjoy being themselves. For an artist to put themself and their work out there is a vulnerable thing to do, Duncan said. Being welcoming, encouraging and inclusive is what needs to be done to create something beautiful.
“It’s important to feel safe in order to create stuff you want to create,” Duncan said. “You’re spreading your soul to everyone who’s watching.”
Flores said being a part of Take 5 has helped her make new friends, gain experience and grow her resume. She’s happy to be in a group that doesn’t restrict creative ideas as well as be with a group of artists and creators she can relate and bond with.
“All of us don’t feel intimidated and can share ideas with each other,” Flores said. “We don’t feel like the second choice.”
To learn more about Take 5 and to catch up on upcoming events, visit its Instagram @txsttake5. To contact Take 5, email [email protected].

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