"Pipeline" - Jasmine
This episode is one of two classroom interviews with 11th grade students at Shalhevet high school in Los Angeles, CA. As part of the Exploring Black Narratives program, we studied Dominique Morisseau's play "Pipeline" and interviewed actors who starred in productions around the US. Today's interview is with Heather Velazquez who played Jasmine at the world-premiere production of "Pipeline" in 2017 at Lincoln Center Theatre in New York.
Pipeline centers on a public high school teacher named Nya whose own teenage son, Omari, attends a private boarding school. Omari and his girlfriend Jasmine are among the only students of color at their school. When we meet them, Omari is about to leave school. He has been suspended after an incident in class in which his white teacher singled him out repeatedly as a Black student and Omari physically pushed back. Jasmine is understandably worried about the consequences for Omari. And because she’s in love with him, her desire to shield him is wrapped up in her need to keep him around. While Jasmine and Omari’s relationship is intense, Jasmine’s presence onstage is filled with humor. She’s tough-talking but uncertain. And though she’s onstage only a short amount of time, she’s an unforgettable character.
If you'd like to learn more about Exploring Black Narratives, here is an article about the program that I wrote for American Theatre magazine: https://www.americantheatre.org/2021/03/19/the-familiar-and-the-new-teaching-black-plays-in-jewish-high-schools/