OGDEN — When three young actors first came up with the idea for a show based on their experiences with racial slurs and stereotypes, they weren't sure how it would be received.

Some of the first fliers for "N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK — Three hateful words: A Dialogue on Language and Respect," were torn down, say Rafael Agustin, an actor and co-writer. On some fliers the "N*GGER" was crossed out, he said. On others, all three slurs were crossed out, and the words "honky, honky, honky" were written in.

Still, Agustin says that the three actors who started out wanting to tell their stories as people of color soon realized their message resonated with their audience.

"People were really hungry to talk about this," Augustin said Wednesday after a discussion with students at Weber State University as part of a Utah stop on the play's national tour.

Agustin, along with Miles Gregley and Allan Axibal, are the cast of the show and among its co-writers.

Axibal admits the title, "raises eyebrows," but he says that "people really like the show," which uses humor to take on racial slurs and stereotypes. It blends hip-hop, theater, stand-up comedy and slam poetry.

"It's a show that makes you laugh, but that also makes you walk away thinking," said Axibal.

Said Gregley: "It's about being a person."

The three have already presented the show in Logan, and in Salt Lake at Kingsbury Hall, where spokeswoman Sheri Jardine said, "We did have some students and faculty on campus who had concerns about the show."

The theater had a difficult time finding a sponsor on campus for a reduced-cost student ticket, so when it got down to the last minute, Jardine said, "we decided to lower the price ourselves." Still, about 1,400 people saw the show at the University of Utah.

In Ogden, Kari Petersen, co-director of community involvement, said Weber staff have been out in the community discussing the show and its content.

"The majority of community leaders are quite supportive of this kind of discussion," she said. "They're happy to have it out in the open and have this discussion."

On Wednesday, students had a chance to talk with the three actors about their experiences.

When a student asked if the three had ever been threatened, Agustin replied the show had received just one threat. In Olympus, Wash., the sheriff's department warned the actors that neo-Nazis planned to protest the show, said Agustin. The theater was locked down.

"They never showed up," Agustin said. "But maybe they did, and we changed their minds."


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