CHADRON – When her roommate Cierra Hermann started talking about her senior social work class (SW435) planning a conference on sexual assault, Chadron State College student Anna Owen was interested in a possible collaboration with the theatre department.
She had recently completed a stint as the stage manager for “Extremities,” a Black Box play about an attempted rape.
The two women brainstormed and realized that mini plays or vignettes of sexual harassment or coercion situations could be an effective and meaningful way to spark audience discussion in between workshop speakers.
From there, they took the idea to the social work senior class and Scott Cavin, associate professor of theatre.
“It was a perfect way to keep the conversation going that we started with ‘Extremities.’ Cierra, Anna and I started talking about this and I approved it as an independent study. It was a great opportunity for the cast members from ‘Extremities’ to keep the subject alive through civic engagement. It’s so important for theatre students to recognize how powerful theatre can truly be. There was a tremendous response. It just fit,” he said.
Keynote speaker for the conference, Dr. Brian Van Brunt, praised the CSC theatre students for their work and suggested to the audience that they utilize the actors to help portray situations for other community groups or area meetings.
Cavin said he was immensely proud of the actors, directors and Owen, the producer of all three, who dedicated time, preparation and thought in designing the vignettes to communicate about a difficult subject.
“We just need the invitation. We can help other classes and groups on campus. We do a lot more than four shows a year. The plays in the sexual assault conference showed the value of the theatre program,” Cavin said.
May 2015 CSC graduate Hannah Clark narrated the plays and wrote the first one portraying appropriate versus inappropriate behavior.
Nathan Wojciechowski adapted the second play about a bra strap snapping incident in a high school setting from a post on the www.notalwayslearning.com website.
CSC 2013 graduate Sarah Labor adapted the play she directed from a poem written by Eve Ensler titled, “It’s not a Baby it’s a Maybe.”
Owen said she was very proud of the actors’ and directors work over the summer and during the fall semester.
“I pushed them. They put in so much extra work,” Owen said.
Jennifer Ponce, special projects coordinator with Doves, serving Alliance and Chadron, led reflection periods following each play, encouraging audience members and actors to their insights and reactions to the portrayals.
“I’m very happy to see the students and faculty of CSC address the issues around sexual violence on campus. It’s important for everyone on campus and in the community to know they play a part in ending sexual violence on campus. The workshop is an awesome opportunity to begin change,” Ponce said.
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