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 Tuesday, August 14, 2007 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Confronting conflict: Interactive Theatre promotes social justice
by Melanie O. Massengale

Rebecca Brown Adelman, a staff member at Wardenburg Student Health Center, recalled one of the earliest performances of the Interactive Theatre Project concerning male sexual assault survivors. "Nobody discussed this topic in 1999," she said, "But theatre can be a springboard to bring issues of social justice to light." Adelman had obtained funding and support for this new venture from Ron Stump, vice chancellor for student affairs, and the Interactive Theatre Project (ITP) was born. Along with Trent Norman, assistant director of Housing and Dining Services, Adelman is a co-director of ITP on the Boulder campus.

The Interactive Theatre Project was instituted in the spring of 1999 as a collaborative effort between Wardenburg and Housing. As an initiative within CU Boulder's Building Community Campaign, ITP was charged with bringing issues of conflict within the campus community to the attention of faculty, staff, and students for the purpose of creating an ongoing dialogue about them. Audiences are given an opportunity to discuss the scenario with the actors in the drama, relating it to their own lives and drawing conclusions about the stories presented.

Summer orientation audiences are currently viewing a performance entitled "Just Another Party," in which students who imbibe too much alcohol are confronted with date rape. Performers in this drama are CU students who auditioned for the troupe.

Student actors often begin working with the program as freshmen and remain throughout their undergraduate career, according to Adelman, whose credentials include a master's degree in drama therapy as well as experience in the New York theatre scene. "Students need continuity, a sense of belonging. Our troupes bond, they connect, they stay together," she said. One such student is Laura Brubaker, a senior anthropology major. "I started with ITP my first semester here after seeing 'Just Another Party," she said. "I was amazed at the way in which two areas I am passionate about—theatre and social justice—could act as a vehicle for discussion on difficult issues such as sexual assault, responsibility, and consent. I knew right then it was something I wanted to be part of and that I wanted to continue to do."

ITP's training and performance portfolio has grown steadily since the program's inception. From 57 performances in fiscal year 2003, ITP has increased its output annually to a total of three trainings and 78 performances in FY 2006. The troupe currently rosters two graduate student assistant directors and 14 paid student actors. Co-director Norman hopes to keep pushing the envelope to provide more thought-provoking performances to CU audiences. "It's None of Our Business" confronted anti-Semitism. "An older gentlemen told the audience after the show how much it meant to him," said Norman. "The situations are real, not abstract."

For more information on performance dates, contact the Interactive Theatre Project.

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