Theatre Department hosts anti-bullying events, art

By: Tatum Hunter ~Staff Writer~

In conjunction with its upcoming production of “From White Plains,” the Department of Music and Theatre is planning three anti-bullying events for the Xavier community at large.

The events include a showing of the documentary film “BULLY,” a reading of “The Laramie Project” and a reading of “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later.” Each event examines some of the issues featured in “From White Plains,” such as bullying, sexuality and coping with the past.

The showing of “BULLY” will be followed by a discussion panel. The panel will include “From White Plains” director Craig Wesley Divino and Dr. Stephen Yandell of the English Department.

The two play readings will feature students from the theatre program. Both plays are about the small town of Laramie, Wyo. where in 1998, college student Matthew Shepard was murdered because of his sexual orientation. There will be an open discussion after both readings.

“It’s a theater program’s responsibility to foster discussion,” program director Stephen Skiles said. “It’s important to delve into why a production is important, as opposed to just going, watching it and leaving.”

“Working on a play comes from a very human place. We’re trying to understand why people behave the way they do. It’s important that we facilitate that for others and that everyone has a voice in our program. If a play ends after curtain call, we’re missing opportunities,” Skiles said.

In an era of increasing awareness concerning issues like bullying, nonmainstream identities, depression and suicide, college students are bombarded with information about these subjects but may not have the opportunity to engage in honest discussion.

“I don’t know if bullying is an issue at Xavier, but we’re not students for Xavier. We’re students for the world. It happened in Laramie. It’s happening at the Olympics. We think that it won’t happen to us, but the only way to prevent it is to come to terms with it and then fix it,” Skiles said.

The cast of “From White Plains” will also be involved in the events.

“I think it’s really cool that we’re doing stuff outside the performances,” sophomore Sean Burlingame, one of the show’s four cast members, said. “It allows the conversations that hopefully start when people see the show to continue outside the context of a single play and hopefully will spark some deeper awareness and understanding of the issues that the play brings up.”

The showing of “BULLY” will take place at 3 p.m. on Feb. 15. The reading of “The Laramie Project” will take place at 2 p.m. on Feb. 16, and the reading of “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later” will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 22. All events will be held in the Gallagher Student Center Theatre.

For more information, visit the theater program’s Twitter or Facebook pages.