Yesterday the Birmingham Southern College’s ensemble presented the play for Sara Hoover, who works with the counseling center on campus and is a family counseling specialist. Below are a few bullet points of some of the discussion raised in the meeting with the theatre students yesterday after their performance.
Notes from Sara Hoover:
The scene performed raised various underlying themes including: (and this is not all-inclusive)
· Assumptions – about who would have an eating disorder and who would not – (examples of “only women have eating disorders” vs the applause of others who exercise to the extreme to be 0% body fat –particularly men. – we discussed the media’s influence on this and its impact. We discussed how early it starts – (middle school was a HUGE part of the discussion of when one begins typically to really feel the awkwardness in life and how powerful words are).
· Focusing on someone’s appearance in general to determine if they are “ok” or not
· How to feel comfortable in one’s own skin
· Self-care – knowing one must take care of self before looking after another person in any way
· What’s behind the behavior of “Ariel” – she’s seen as a monster in some ways but in reality, what was it in her life and family history that impacted who she has become? And the character of “Phillipe” and how we all know someone like him – who wants to exploit the vulnerabilities of other yet it’s due to his own insecurity
· Gender identity – biases and stereotypes
· Alcohol consumption with the intent of getting so drunk one throws up/purges and/or passes out
· Addiction in families and the impact of it in students’ lives here
· Bullying – through showing embarrassing videos/photos of others – social media and face-to-face comments/attacks
· Acting out of “concern” yet coming across to someone struggling as a police officer or interrogator – rather than a comforting friend who wants to be of support.
· Objectification of others
· Self – image
· Body-dysmorphia and body image in general
· How to ask for help – — and why is it so difficult?
· Being intentional with our words with one another – even with our closest friends
· How no one really knows what’s going on with another person fully unless they are in their skin – so the assumptions that we can “harass” through “funny” comments is problematic – and oftentimes is a trigger for the person of something very painful
These are just a few of the topics we discussed. When I asked how can we address these issues more effectively beyond the production? I LOVED the answer that seemed to be the consensus of the group:
“We need to do this type of thing in groups with each other all over campus – (not having a faculty/staff or other outside speaker/adult professional come in) – but within our own groups, peer to peer having meaningful discussions about the problems we have and see.” One idea came up that all parties be suspended one night per month or so and have Greek Life and other groups that are in place have a topic of conversation within their own membership that night. “How cool would it be to have the same topic of conversation going on in small groups all over campus at the same time? “
End of notes
I hope it helps to shape activities on campus. The goal of the College Collaboration Project is to have the same topic of conversation going in communities all over the country at the same time through the development of a play. I’m so grateful for all involved in the program willing to do the work of putting on the play and seriously examining the issues Jan’s text brings to the surface.