Performance promotes diversity, honors Gonsalves

Linda Satchwell
Staff Writer

Feather River College students will perform “Kaleidoscope: Music Is Our Inspiration,” a collection of impromptu skits with the same central diversity theme, at the Town Hall Theater Dec. 7 – 8 from 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Quincy High School graduates Cheyanne Lanouette and Kambrya Blake are co-directing the performance. Lanouette did a kaleidoscope for her senior project.

She and Blake are drama majors, as well as president and vice president, respectively, of FRC’s Drama Club.

They have worked together on many dramatic projects at QHS and FRC. This one is especially important to them because of Kaleidoscope’s theme and because this will be their last collaboration before leaving Quincy for four-year colleges next year.

When Blake and Lanouette were looking for a central theme, Amy Schultz, FRC’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) director, put them in contact with Portia Gonsalves.

Gonsalves’ father, Larry, passed away last year of an ischemic stroke. More than 350 people attended his memorial service.

Larry was an “African American male in Quincy” but he had “an outlook of caring for everyone, with no color boundary,” she said. Gonsalves remembers her dad playing the music of Bob Marley and Jimmy Hendricks and asking her, “Do you see any color here? That’s why music’s beautiful.”

In memory of her father, Gonsalves started the Diversity Club at FRC to focus on the positive aspects of difference. Lanouette and Blake agreed to make diversity Kaleidoscope’s theme, with music as its central expression.

For Blake and Lanouette, this is a chance to launch a final dramatic performance in a hometown where the girls have been friends since fifth grade.       For Gonsalves, it’s a chance to remember and celebrate her father’s life, not just at this one event, but with an Osher Foundation scholarship through FRC.

The Osher Foundation has established a matching grant for California Community Colleges. If Kaleidoscope can help raise $6,700, Osher will match it, and this will be used to establish a Lawrence Gonsalves Memorial Scholarship of $500 a year in perpetuity.

Osher scholarships are intended to help students with great financial need who “have demonstrated success and commitment in their coursework.”

Gonsalves sees the scholarship as a chance to help exceptional but financially strapped students in a way that honors and remembers her father.

She’s proud of the fact that her father symbolizes a “bridge between races. Though he was one of the few black residents of Plumas County, he didn’t see the world in terms of color.”

Rather than focusing on losing her father, Gonsalves prefers to think she was blessed to have him for 25 years.

Her father was an assistant manager at Les Schwab Tires for many years, and Gonsalves said the Les Schwab staff was her extended family.

According to her, when owner Ron Horton spoke at her father’s memorial service, he said he’d thought he was the “face of Les Schwab, but it turns out a 5’7” black man was Mr. Les Schwab.”

Gonsalves is proud of her history, as well. Like her mother before her, she grew up with her family at the Harlem Club, the African American area of Quincy. Its multi-colored, clapboard buildings still stand, just east of Les Schwab Tires.

Her mother, Debra Gonsalves, is the first black jail commander at the Plumas County jail.

“My family has broken barriers,” she said. “It makes me stronger as a person … to stand by what you believe — the truth — regardless of the consequences.”

Kaleidoscope performances typically utilize a minimal number of props and set changes, with just a few chairs for the actors to sit on. For this kaleidoscope, the chairs will be replaced with tires from Les Schwab.

Kaleidoscope tickets are on sale at Sight and Sound, Carey Candy Company and Les Schwab Tire Center in Quincy.

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