Featured Posts, News

“SLUT: The Play” and “Now That We’re Men” Spark Campus Discussion

In the finale of “Now That We’re Men,” four boys meet up after their high school prom, drinking and talking. Their friend Nick soon swaggers in and exclaims that he has had intercourse with a girl, who is still passed out drunk in another room. As the play ends, the spotlight fades on Nick, who laughs alone, confused at why the others are silent. This powerful scene was one of many that held a mirror to a sometimes toxic social culture.

Last Friday and Saturday, students and faculty saw “SLUT: The Play” and its companion piece “Now That We’re Men,” both written and directed by Katie Cappiello. All students were required to attend one of the four viewings but were also given the choice to opt-out with special permission from Sykes counselors. Together, the plays addressed topics including toxic masculinity, rape culture, victim-blaming, and slut-shaming.

Sydney Mercado ’19, a member of the Brace Student Board said, “Throughout the play, I laughed a lot. Once you get to the end, it almost acts as a wake-up call… It’s kind of funny but uncomfortable throughout the whole play, and then finally towards the end, you see what actually happened and how impactful that sexual assault must have been on all of them.”

“SLUT: The Play” first came to campus in 2016 when Nico Ciccia ’16, Payton Jancsy ’16, and Olivia Brokaw ’18, former members of the Brace Student Board, obtained an Abbot Grant to bring Cappiello and her troupe of student actors to campus.

Flavia Vidal, Director of the Brace Center for Gender Studies, said, “[‘Slut: The Play’] had an enormous impact [in 2016]… Since then [we] had been thinking about how to bring them back.”

For Uppers, this performance was their second required viewing of “SLUT: The Play.”

Jungwoo Park ’19, a member of the Brace Student Board, said, “Because of the current political climate and of the recent developments like the #MeToo movement, I was able to see the play in a different light. It felt more real to me because I am living in a climate for which these issues are more pertinent. [Junior] year, it was a play that was shocking to me, but now I see it in a much different, more-nuanced light.”

Vidal said she saw “Now That We’re Men” performed in New York City and decided that the play could be shown in conjunction with “SLUT: The Play” for the whole school.

“Most of the time, and even if you look outside of Andover at the national conversation… the conversation tends to focus on the experience of victims and rightly so,” she said. “But in those kinds of situations, there is always a victim and there is always a perpetrator. It felt important to us to bring that conversation to the other side and think about what does it mean for men to be part of this rape culture.”

After the viewings, the Brace Center hosted an open discussion on Sunday in the Underwood Room. Students also had debrief conversations led by Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) student leaders and house counselors in their dorms and advising groups.

William Locke ’19, a prefect in Bertha Bailey House, said that the discussion helped Juniors in his dorm process the emotional ramifications of the performances.

Locke said, “For my [Juniors], I think [formal discussions are] necessary. I’m glad we’re talking about that just to make sure they’re having a discussion and so they can have a discussion with older kids and our house counselor. You [have to] make sure that when you see something that emotionally powerful, as I think ‘SLUT: The Play’ and ‘Now That We’re Men’ were, that you have time to process it, especially when you’re a [Junior]. You need to go through that.”

Emma Slibeck ’20 said that while the discussions were important, people often focused on the director’s artistic choices rather than the play’s messages on toxic masculinity and rape culture.

“A lot of times, when we’re discussing the plays, it has been about the way the plays were presented and the choices the director, Katie, made for the plays. Whether or not you enjoyed watching the plays, the content is still important and relevant,” said Slibeck. 

Jan 12, 2018