All-Black cast to perform in BYU’s ‘North Star’ production

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BYU’s production of North Star by Gloria Bond Clunie will be streamed live from March 4 to 6. The play tells the story of 11-year-old Relia navigating her place in the Civil Rights Movement. (Ty Davis)

The BYU theatre and media arts department will be livestreaming the show “North Star” by playwright Gloria Bond Clunie with an all-Black cast.

“North Star” portrays the life of an 11-year-old Black girl named Relia witnessing the Civil Rights Movement sit-ins and protests firsthand. Sariah Lyles, a senior majoring in music dance theatre, plays Relia. She said her character must decide with her family if she is mature enough to join the sit-ins.

The play will be streamed for free on the BYU Arts website from March 4 to 6 at 7:30 p.m.

Sariah Lyles was asked to be part of the cast over a year ago. She said a lot went into this show even before it was cast. “Once we decided on a script, the vision for the show started blooming.”

Her brother Isaac Lyles, a junior majoring in English teaching, plays the part of Reverend Blake in the production. Isaac Lyles described his character as a “meek and mild man” who encouraged others to fight for equality in a loving way.

Isaac Lyles said what makes North Star unique is the characters. The story is from the point of view of Relia as she grows up in an intense, hostile environment. “It’s through her eyes, which I think is a fascinating perspective,” he said.

Sydney Southwick, theatre education senior and dramaturg for the show, said the idea of children fighting for civil rights is important to her. “If this is something that kids care about, it must be meaningful.”

As a dramaturg, Southwick works on research for the show and creates a bridge between the audience and the story. She helped write the study guide for the play, which can be found in the show’s program. Southwick hopes the play will cause people to think more about racial issues and what they can do about them.

Sariah Lyles said this is not just a Black theatre production, but also a story about family, community, unity and tradition. “If anything, I hope people come out realizing we’re not so different.”

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