The Daily Gamecock

USC Musical raises money for Haiti

One year after tragic earthquake, aid still offered by students

It has been a year since an earthquake ripped through Haiti, killing thousands and leaving thousands more in the already impoverished nation without basic shelter, food, clean water or medical supplies.
One year later — after the initial wave of fervent immediate relief, benefit concerts and donations have faded — the people of Haiti are still stranded in the remains of a disaster.
But one group of USC students hasn’t forgotten the remaining needs of the victims and is lending its creative talents to remind others Haiti relief efforts are more than just last year’s trend. For the past two nights in the School of Music Recital Hall, five performers and three musicians gave first performances of “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris,” a student-run musical sponsored by the School of Music and the English department in remembrance of the first anniversary of the earthquake. The show will run again Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.
“I’m a personal believer that the common theater should be used as an opportunity to do good. People ask, ‘What good are the arts?’ but this is an example of how theater can bring us together,” said Susan Ryan, the show’s art director. “Especially at the one-year anniversary of the earthquake, this serves as a standing reminder for us that giving to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere shouldn’t just be a fad — we should constantly be thinking about ways to help.”
The show is free, but monetary donations are encouraged to help the ongoing struggle of the Haitian people. Donations go toward Hope for Haiti, an organization dedicated to long-term relief and recovery in partnership with the Haitian people. Although shy to admit it, Ryan hopes the show will raise $10,000 by the end of the week, enough to open and operate a nutrition clinic for four months.
“Brel would not want any lesser goal, in the spirit of the impossible,” Ryan said. “Even if we don’t reach [the goal], it will still be something great because, hopefully, people will come and receive the message and be able to take away a new theatrical experience.
The show features 23 musical numbers by Belgian artist and composer Jacques Brel and five poetry readings submitted from Columbia-area writers. Brel’s compositions, a dynamic combination of song and spoken word that rose to popularity during the post-World War II era, exhibit a theme of human suffering and the search for how to heal human relationships. The selected pieces were combined with precise choreography and local poetry to reflect on the damages of war and disaster and the search for hope.
The cast members, all of different majors and artistic abilities, spent four weeks rehearsing. Third-year vocal performance student and cast member Rebecca Wood said despite long and stressful rehearsals, she found reassurance in the knowledge her work was for a greater purpose.
“It’s been good for once to be able to use my talent for a cause and not just to be judged or to get a good grade or move forward,” Wood said. “This performance has a direct effect on people’s lives, and that’s the greatest satisfaction there is.”