Arete contribution submitted by Amber Thompson
Jumah Cola Time to Drink sheds light on how war is “new modern art” through the eyes of Jumah, a Muslim-American soldier fighting in a fictional American occupation of India by America. The play takes the idea of “the commodification of natural resources” and the question of “how two cultures treat something as basic as water” and integrates both into a contemporary Kipling-inspired drama, according to the play’s writer and director, Joel Sena.
Sena is a senior in the Honors College with plans to graduate in December. He is majoring in Integrated Visual and Performing Arts: Practice and Theory, a major he designed himself through the Honors College; Sena wrote and produced Jumah Cola Time to Drink as his Capstone Experience/Thesis Project (CE/T). He found inspiration in both the works and the life of Rudyard Kipling, as well as Islam and its presence in post-9/11 America. The play explores the compassionate and monstrous aspects of the human condition simultaneously in a way that makes the audience question what good truly is. As Sena describes in the play’s director’s note, “… even in a world that is shooting flames and seems bent against [Jumah], the offer of life to another… is always at his fingertips.”
When asked about his choice to pursue a nontraditional approach to his CE/T, Sena responded passionately, “It does no one any good on this Earth to produce something half-hearted or out of obligation or something [that ]caters to academe. This project has to be a sacrifice, a blood offering as all things in life must be.” He urges all Honors students that are planning to pursue a CE/T to use whatever medium they are passionate about, not letting previous conventions stifle their creativity. Sena warns, “If you simply go through the motions like a drone, everyone will smell it and IT DOESN’T SMELL GOOD. But if you are true to yourself, your project will burst into flames of cosmic transcendence and turn into ash everyone’s project that is dishonest or was made without love or conviction.”
His enthusiasm for his work will transcend the classrooms of WKU as he travels to Toronto to visit his mentor, Peter Sellars, who is currently directing Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde in conjunction with video artist Bill Viola. During this time, Sena also plans to visit graduate schools, specifically Brown, in hopes to find a new fit for his continued study. After initial resistance toward the idea of graduate school, Sena explains that he is ready to find his future academic home asserting, “Now my foot is on the gas and my tires are screeching.”