BY EMILY INNES – ARTS AND LEISURE EDITOR
DramaCentre’s most recent production, which took place this past weekend, is Love 95 Times, the program’s second FARM Theater collaboration project. The FARM theater company, located in New York, is designed to help early career (and usually female) playwrights get their shows on their feet. The playwright takes her show to three different universities over the course of the academic year, making edits between each school in order to perfect the script. Centre has previously collaborated with the company for the 2014 show In the Event of My Death. This year, Centre was the last university to produce Love 95 Times, which will now begin a brief run in New York. The playwright was present during the production process, visiting for a weekend to view rehearsals, and then attending the final performance.
This year, DramaCentre engaged in an even more unique collaboration with the FARM Theater by granting student and faculty representatives the opportunity to attend the company’s workshop in New York over the summer, along with representatives from the other two universities committed to the production of Love 95 Times.
Junior Rachel Kent attended the workshop, and after meeting with the playwright and seeing the collaboration unfold, decided she wanted to be as involved in the show as much as possible and consequently undertook the position of stage manager. “It was just as exciting learning the process of creating art as it was getting to work on art that has a social statement,” Kent said. This was Kent’s ninth production here at Centre.
Directed by Dr. Patrick Kagan-Moore, Love 95 Times was offered as a CentreTerm course, allowing people to participate who might not usually have time to get involved in theater as an extracurricular. This is what compelled junior Ben McAllister to audition for the play, which was his first production at Centre. “I had just enough room in my schedule to take an elective during CentreTerm, and decided to give the play a shot,” he said. Additionally, framing the rehearsals as a class allowed everyone a lot more time to focus on the play and invest themselves in the empowering narrative. Dr. Kagan-Moore likes to focus on one aspect or part of the production at a time and refine it until it is perfect, “and he really got to run with that [this time],” Kent said.
The unique production process of the play helped the students focus on the gravity of the subject matter and present it in an extremely raw and real manner. Love 95 Times investigates a case of sexual assault on a college campus, but focuses on the bystanders, not the victim or perpetrator. By doing so, the play explores the fallout of people processing the assault, and questions to what degree bystanders are responsible.
Kent explained how this approach conveyed the same ideas as standard sexual assault prevention education, but through the new perspective of the moral struggle of the bystander. McAllister added that this standpoint helped emphasize the severity of all acts that constitute sexual assault, expanding upon common rhetoric.
Furthermore, the medium of a theater performance impacted the message and its reception. “[With a play,] you were able to react to it in a way that you can’t when it’s on paper. It’s harder to look away from and dismiss it when it’s happening right in front of you, with real people,” Kent said. DramaCentre also offered a discussion portion after the performances between the audience and the playwright, principal leads, stage manager, and costume manager, which further demonstrated the show’s purpose of empowering and educating in an extremely raw and real manner.