Community, Edge, Theater

Theatre group raises awareness of sexual assault, college drinking culture

Sometimes it’s difficult to do the right thing. While performing “Dorm,” a collaboration between UM’s theatre department and student outreach group Counseling Outreach Peer Education (COPE), cast members portrayed a potential off-stage sexual assault situation.

In this skit, Lisa, a girl who had gotten too drunk at a party, stumbles into her room with a guy. Anna, Lisa’s roommate, is irritated that she was “sexiled” and heads to the study room. Anna meets up with four other friends who all discuss the situation and debate what to do. Some friends are concerned and believe that Anna should intervene and check on Lisa, while others suggest leaving Lisa alone out of fear of overreacting.

After the performance, which took place on Thursday in the Shalala Student Center, the five actors held a Q&A session with the audience and stayed in character while giving their answers.

Audience questions included, “If it were you, would you want someone to intervene?” and, “Is the possibility of getting in trouble for underage drinking worth the safety of your friends?”

The session encouraged an interesting dialogue on college drinking culture, friendship and the importance of bystander intervention.

Following the Q&A, the cast restarted the production. This time, the crowd participated in the performance. When audience members felt the need to intervene, they could simply raise their hand and shout, “Stop!”

“Dorm” is an example of “theatre for social change” or “applied theatre.” Audience participation is essential to the dialogue and understanding of the presented scenario.

Skit director and lecturer cfrancis blackchild is in her third year of teaching at UM. She works closely with students to research and devise scripts that shed light on the issue of campus sexual assault. blackchild refers to the group of students who perform this type of theatre on campus as “The Troop,” also known as “Theatre in Action” (TIA).

“People don’t know how to talk about these situations, and this type of theatre production forces people to think and reflect in new ways,” blackchild said.

Paul Schulz, an undeclared freshman and one of the audience members who intervened during the skit, noted increased discussion about sexual assault situations.

“Rape itself is being acknowledged more frequently, so I feel more comfortable and confident with intervening,” Schulz said.

blackchild said these conversations are necessary for change.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. Sixty-three percent of these incidents are never reported to the police.

“We work hard so students at this university understand that there are many programs in place that want to help victims through advocacy, support and awareness,” said Kendeldrick Broaden, a senior psychology major and peer educator for COPE.

Broaden also spoke about the importance of students holding each other accountable and the need to implement more forums where students engage in these particular conversations.

“Things like this happen all of the time,” Broaden said. “Unfortunately, it can happen to anyone.”

For more information on COPE, contact Kimberly Martin at kmartin@miami.edu. Those interested in TIA should contact blackchild at ccf22@miami.edu.

September 28, 2016

Reporters

Nyah Tennell


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

UM was very fortunate that junior linebackers Shaquille Quarterman, Mike Pinckney and Zach McCloud a ...

Hard Rock Stadium will be filled with Miami fans — and probably only Miami fans — when the two colle ...

They made school history on Sunday with a nationally-televised road upset of No. 2 Louisville, and o ...

Mark Walton, the former University of Miami star football player and current Cincinnati Bengal, was ...

Don Chaney Jr. says his recruitment is over and the way he talks about the Miami Hurricanes, it’s ea ...

Miami Law’s Frances Hill answers key questions about the National Emergencies Act. ...

Researcher Rebecca Bulotsky Shearer is leading a study aimed at increasing the number of kids who ar ...

UM alumna Alina Mayo Azze, who has covered a myriad of topics during her 37-year career, has been a ...

Happiness and well-being scholar Tal Ben-Shahar is UM’s newest Distinguished Presidential Scholar. ...

The University of Miami will host the first symposium to explore LGBTQ human rights across the Ameri ...

The No. 20 Miami women's basketball team stormed back from a 14-point deficit to pick up the bi ...

Hours after garnering espnW National Player of the Week distinction, Emese Hof of the Miami women ...

For the second straight Monday, a member of the Miami women's basketball team has earned a nati ...

Brian Van Belle struck out five over six shutout innings to help the Canes sweep Rutgers on opening ...

The No. 25-ranked University of Miami golf team moved up two spots on Monday's leaderboard at t ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.