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ArtU Acting Student Navigates Identity and Education in "Pipeline"

Dominique Morisseau’s “Pipeline,” staged by the African-American Shakespeare Company, delves into race, education, and identity themes. At its core lies Omari, portrayed by Atlantis Clay, a breakout actor from the Academy of Art University, whose journey on and off the stage highlights deep insights into human complexity.

The play follows Nya, a public school teacher, who, after two incidents at her son Omari’s inner-city public school resulting in suspensions, enrolls him at Fernbrook, a private school. Yet, when a third behavioral event occurs at Fernbrook, expulsion and potential criminal charges loom, forcing Nya to confront her decisions and sacrifices for Omari’s success. Written by MacArthur Fellowship recipient Dominique Morisseau, “Pipeline” highlights the complexities of Black parenting in the inner-city.

For Atlantis, the audition for “Pipeline” was a unique experience, stemming from a teaser performance at Yerba Gardens. He reflected, “My summer involvement led to the opportunity to portray Omari, which has been incredibly rewarding.”

Rehearsals proved collaborative and enriching for Atlantis, who credits his training at the Academy of Art University for fully developing Omari as a character. “The MFA program has been instrumental in preparing me for the role,” he noted.

In “Pipeline,” his portrayal of Omari invites audiences to engage with the complexities of identity, sparking dialogue and introspection.  Atlantis’ connection to Omari’s experiences adds depth to his portrayal. “I see reflections of myself in Omari,” he admits, connecting the parallels between his past and Omari’s struggles. “This role has reminded me of my growth and the importance of sharing Omari’s story.”

Looking ahead, Atlantis remains committed to finishing his Acting MFA program at the Academy while exploring diverse narratives in film and stage productions.

For more information on ArtU’s School of Acting, visit the School of Acting.

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