A projection of the name of the play, "By The River Rivanna," performed as technical rehearsal on Oct. 17, 2023 at the Santa Monica College Studio Stage. (Akemi Rico/The Corsair)

Santa Monica College play canceled amid race-related controversy and criticism

AfroLA is committed to centering the communities we cover. Sometimes that means turning over the mic to let them speak for themselves. Additionally, part of our approach, emphasizes outreach for contributions from the area’s many community college students who are often left out of the classroom-to-newsroom recruitment pipeline. To that end, AfroLA joined Santa Monica College’s student media company, The Corsair, in reporting on the controversy surrounding a new theater production on campus (which was ultimately canceled before opening night). We republished their work as a show of support. Their ambitious reporting—which predated The Los Angeles Times’s story by more than TWO weeks—was foundational to new stories we reported with their help to further amplify the issue.

Read the latest coverage from The Corsair and AfroLA below. Read The Corsair’s October 2023 print edition dedicated to reporting around the play and impacts on SMC’s campus community (which includes the stories below as a beautifully-designed news magazine) here.

Read the “By the River Rivanna” script here. (Note: This is a later version archived online, but not the final version that was to be performed on Oct. 20.)

Special thanks to SMC student journalists Cebelihle Hlatshwayo, Renée Barlett-Webber, Samayia Kirby, Victor Chambers and Akemi Rico.


Black student actors portraying enslaved African women raise their hands in ancestral ceremony.

“River” deep: A dive into historical inaccuracy and cultural disrespect in local colleges recent play

An L.A. theater dramaturg examines how Santa Monica College’s “By the River Rivanna” portrayal of slavery missed the mark.

A sign reads: "SMC Supports rape culture and sexual debasement."

Santa Monica College play’s cancelation ripples through campus community

Students, faculty and staff came together to reflect on the canceled SMC production “By The River Rivanna.”

A Black women dressed in a white robe walks forward flanked by Black and white people with their arms outstretched.

Santa Monica College “By the River Rivanna” production is canceled

“By The River Rivanna,” a new SMC theater production, was canceled the eve of its premiere following a vote by student actors.

Three Black women dressed as enslaved persons stand back to back in a circle holding hands.

Protests scheduled at premiere of controversial Santa Monica College play

In preparation for opening night of “By the River Rivanna,” cast members rehearse while 14 SMC organizations plan to protest.

Black man stands in the foreground with his white friend pictured over his his shoulder behind him.

Playwright or wrong?

The newest theater production at Santa Monica College is steeped in controversy just days before opening night.

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