Performance troupe invites interaction

A California acting troupe challenged society’s views on homosexuality and Proposition 8 April 5 in the Pioneer Reading Room.

The interACT Performance Troupe from California State University Long Beach presents performances across the country on various topics, such as sexual assault and racism, to bring awareness to students about issues that are difficult to address.

In a performance called “Say What You Really Want To Say,” the actors explained that homophobia is everywhere and the problems cannot be ignored.

“There are people out there who don’t have a voice, and we need to be that voice. It’s important that someone takes a stand for the rights of other people. There are people being oppressed every day,” actor Timothy Maurer said. “There are hate crimes and people losing their lives over this just because they were born the way they were. If we don’t do anything about it and sit in silence, we’re just as guilty as the person who raises their fist.”

Using actual entries from their student journals as a script, the actors brought up issues such as homophobia, gay marriage, bullying, coming out and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexed and queer (LGBTIQ) rights.

When the troupe decided to work with homosexuality, they all had a difficult time figuring out where to begin in tackling the issues. Through nameless journal entries, they were able to sort out their opinions and form a basis of where to start. When the students got the entries back, no one wanted to admit to their anonymous opinions. Everyone in the troupe had differing views, some heavily clashing with others.

“Our goal with every performance is to be true to the story, because if we’re true to the story of what happened between everyone in the troupe and expose these issues, we will make that kind of change within the audience members.”

After the scripted portion, the performers depicted possible situations and confrontations and invited the audience members to intervene and change the outcomes.

“It was powerful, because it confronted some of the very ugly parts of real life in an abrupt way, and sometimes that’s what we need to wake up or to evoke more action where we know it is needed,” sophomore Jessica Harper said. “It was personal and extremely open. The fact that the script was pulled from authentic journal entries made it so relevant, and the audience participation made me as a watcher and learner feel more connected to the performers.”

Marc Rich, director of the interACT Performance Troupe, said that crowd interaction added to the authenticity of the show.

“We work incredibly hard with rehearsals because we want the show to be excellent and authentic,” Rich said. “From an audience perspective, I really want people to move from that passive role to that active role by critically thinking about the issues. This is real people’s voices being performed and I want people to realize that they can intervene.”

The Department of Theatre and Communication Arts, Multicultural Programs, Fusion and the Office of Academic Affairs sponsored this performance at Linfield.

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