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‘Slut Shaming’ catcalls campus rape culture

By: Hannah Sgambellone  & Zenab Saeed ~Staff Writers~

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Photo courtesy of xavier.edu | Slut Shaming: A Time Travel Rape Adventure illustrates the timelessness of trauma through the rape of small-town girl, Lauren Lucas, portrayed by three different actresses throughout the show.

Though all forms of art strive to make some type of social commentary, there is perhaps none more confrontational than the theater.

A theater audience is, at least for the duration of the show, completely captive to not only the performances of the actors and the aesthetics of the set but also the ideas of the play itself. They are left to sift through the themes and messages that the play directly imparts to them.

It’s this artistic captivity that makes Xavier Theatre’s season opener Slut Shaming: A Time Travel Rape Adventure such a poignant and self-aware choice.

For both incoming and returning students, Slut Shaming heralds insights on the life changing effects of sexual assault in a raw and relatable way.

Written in 2014 by local playwright Trey Tatum, Slut Shaming follows the effects of rape on Lauren Lucas. Lauren is played by three different actresses who represent different periods in her life.

Under the direction of Bridget Leak, seniors Katie Mitchell and Hannah Sheppard, along with sophomore Cassie Delicath, approach presenting the same, complex character to audiences as she develops after her attack.

“Preparing for a role like Lauren was (and continues to be) intimidating simply because of the stakes that come with presenting a woman like this to a theater full of people,” Mitchell said. “Lauren’s story is one that is important and is all too relevant to current issues we have today surrounding sexual assault. Lauren’s story is one that I know people will be, in a way, familiar with because these are the stories that are flying over college students’ heads all the time.”

From cases such as the Steubenville rape case to the more recent Stanford swimmer case, college students are almost desensitized to stories of sexual assault around them.

According to Artistic Director Stephen Skiles, that’s why Slut Shaming needed to be performed now.

After seeing the show produced at the 2014 Fringe Festival, Skiles knew immediately that he wanted to produce it at Xavier.

“In January 2016, the Huffington Post published an article from the Bureau of Justice that found that one in four females on college campuses will experience sexual assault by the time they graduate. One in four. That’s why it is so important to do this play now,” Skiles said.

In an effort to make sure this message is spread across the campus, tickets have been made free to Xavier students through sponsorship by the Title IX office, Father Graham, the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Arts and Innovation, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Xavier Theatre department itself.

Additionally, Kate Lawson of the Title IX office and Angie Kneflin from the Office of the Dean of Students will be holding post-show discussions in collaboration with counseling services.

For students interested in learning more, there will also be two Lunch-n-Learn talk series on the issues in Slut Shaming, the first being at noon on Friday, Aug. 26, and the second on Monday, Aug. 29, from noon-1 p.m. These will take place in the Gallagher Student Center on the first floor Arrupe Overlook.

Slut Shaming is free to students and runs Aug. 24-28. Tickets are available for pickup at the box office in Gallagher Student Center. The show runs 50 minutes.

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