The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Learning about stalking, homophobia through drama

UI students who may be bored with sitting through long, melodramatic plays from the likes of Shakespeare will have an opportunity to be involved in a new type of theater, starting this summer.

Acting out stalking, homophobia, and sexual-assault scenarios will be part of a new venue UI students will perform in as part of the Iowa Student Interactive Theatre Experience, a new peer-education group.

The main goal of the program, which is sponsored by the UI Rape Victim Advocacy Program, is to educate students about the university’s new sexual-misconduct policy.

“We want to teach people to intervene if they see a bad situation about to happen,” RVAP Assistant Director Diane Funk said.

RVAP is now taking applications from students who want to act in the plays, which will be produced in residence halls and at various university events. Student actors — who need not have any prior acting experience — in the performances can receive credit for volunteer hours.

Throughout the plays, the audience will be encouraged to comment on what the actors are doing,

RVAP forum theater coordinator Jamie Schlote said. An example that may occur during a performance could involve a woman drinking too much and then deciding whether she should go home with an eager stranger. The play will stop, and the facilitator will ask the audience what the woman should do.

Though many men may not be enthusiastic about playing the part of a potential rapist, Schlote encourages men to apply.

“I would love to have guys in it,” she said.

A federal Flagship grant, which was awarded to the UI, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa last year, will fund the project, Funk said. The state Board of Regents signed off on the three universities receiving the grant, which is specifically designated for antiviolence issues. Iowa was one of only four states that received the grant.

Schlote got the idea for the forum theater while working as a facilitator on a similar project while she was going to school at the University of Central Missouri. She said she will probably be the facilitator for the program until a student capable of heading it is chosen.

With an interactive audience, a play may have a tendency to drag on if the audience is large and asks a lot of questions, Schlote said.

“The facilitator’s job is to keep the play moving,” she said.

Alyssa Clayden, a first-year UI social-work master’s program student, hopes to act in the forum. She said she sees the performances as a good way to reach students, as opposed to learning the material in a classroom.

“To keep somebody’s attention, you have to make it dramatic and active,” she said.

Schlote is planning to start meeting with the student actors after spring break, and she hopes to start the performances in August.

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