Xavier Theatre confronts slut-shaming

By: Max Bruns ~Staff Writer~

1During her appearance at the Academy Awards, Joe Biden came out in support of Lady Gaga’s fight against sexual assault on Feb. 29. The vice president opened Gaga’s performance of “Till it Happens to You” with a speech about joining the fight against sexual assault on college campuses. Biden’s message added to fervor about this topic on campuses across the nation, and Xavier University’s theater department is no exception.

Xavier Theatre is starting off its 2016-2017 season with a show called “Slut Shaming.” The show was the 2014 Artist’s Choice show for Cincinnati Fringe Festivals, “a 12-day Cincinnati Theater and arts festival produced by the Know Theater of Cincinnati. The show was written by Trey Tatum, a self-proclaimed “playwright for the underbelly of the world,” and first directed by Bridget Leak for New York City’s “The Culture Project.”

The show depicts three female actors playing one character at different ages. Through time-travel and split narration, they explore the effects of the character’s rape and how her community responded through public ridicule and use of social media. Stephen Skiles, Xavier University Theatre’s Director, deliberately chose this show to open the lineup.

“I have to ask myself, are we doing enough as a theater program to educate the Xavier community about sexual assault?” Skiles said.

As the director of Xavier Theatre, Skiles works intimately with 40 theater majors. Skiles, in collaboration with several Xavier offices including Title IX, wants to create a dialogue about sexual assault, and he will include his department in the conversation.

“As many as one in four women are involved in an incident of sexual assault, according to the bureau of justice statistics,” Skiles said. “I don’t have children (of my own), but I have 40 of them. And when I hear about something happening to these kids, I get really worked up about it.”

Skiles collaborated with several Xavier faculty on a grant to get free admission to the performance for all Xavier first-year students. Although the grant was denied. However, the show will continue on schedule.

“I think our goal is that we aren’t just doing a show, but we’re doing a show about an incredibly important topic. Our hope is that this will become about much more than a 45 minute performance,” Skiles said.

Kate Lawson, Xavier’s Title IX officer, is completely supportive of Skile’s efforts, she said.

“Moments like this are a great way to talk to folks who maybe aren’t at the table as often. This should be a cross-departmental conversation. From this art-theater perspective we might be able to gain a broader engagement,” Lawson said.

The rehearsal process will continue through the summer so that “Slut Shaming” will be ready to perform within the first weeks of school.

“I think it’s really important to build a community of individuals who will dedicate their lives to bettering these issues for the rest of the world. We want to be part of building this community,” Skiles said.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s