FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Stage lights lit up a small platform inside a theater at Fresno State. But the message shared in front of an audience of more than 50 people was of big concern.
Six student actors voiced issues surrounding race relations, particularly violence against African Americans, by some members of law enforcement. Fresno students performed the seven monologues in a play called "Hands Up". The play originated in New York.
It falls on the heels of nationwide protests sparked by recent killings of black men by police in North Carolina and Oklahoma.
Nwachukwu Oputa-- one of the actresses -- said having this play here couldn't be more timely.
"You're hearing people's actual stories and testaments about the things they've actually experienced and you're empathizing with them more because you're seeing it from a real point of view."
Stories told by young adults, living a reality many across the country connect with. That reality resonated with some of the people in the crowd.
"There was a 72-year-old white man for example who told us in his 72years of life he had never seen black life displayed in this way and it changed his mind forever," said Jalen Stewart, student.
That's the hope the director of the play has. He wants it to be an eye-opening experience for those who may not fully understand the fears gripping some of those in the black community.
"It's the result of the frustration and rage that a lot of African-Americans have about the inability for America to wake up," said Thomas-Whit Ellis, director.
A wake up call Deb Forgacs gets after seeing the play for the first time.
"I think it needs to be spoken about and talked about in places other than a protest type situation and bring more things to life and have people understand what the issues."
The play also focused on domestic abuse, interracial relationships, and issues surrounding the LGBT community.
If you want to catch a performance, the students will take center stage every night through Saturday this week at 7:30.