It’s a pretty safe bet that you didn’t have a high school teacher as cool as Aaron “Gobanna” Pleasant. By turns musician, radio DJ, and teacher at Philadelphia Mennonite High School, Pleasant wrote KARMA 101 to teach high schoolers about the realities of growing up, making decisions, and higher education. Pleasant stars as Gobanna, a college freshman navigating life at college. He is joined by Monica (Linh Chia), an Asian American struggling with financial aid difficulties, and Terrance (Ted McCray), a scholarship athlete who doesn’t fit in to his coach’s plans.
Presented in a recent one-day only production at Suzanne Roberts Theatre, KARMA 101 deals with sexuality, alienation, and college bureaucracy with freshness, verve, and humor. It is suited to classrooms and small audiences, and certainly suffers from a didactic, episodic structure (“here we will address “financial aid”, here “homosexuality”), but Pleasant brings a playful approach to his theater, interspersing songs by hip hop group 2Cocky2Care to create an entertaining class-length play. It’d be great in any college intro or H.S. readiness setting, and was a refreshing break from the usual staid Caucasian-centered offering of Philadelphia theater. April 26, 2013, gobbanaland.wix.com.