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BWW Blog: What College Students Want to See More and Less of In Theatre

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You heard it here first, this is what our generation of artists wants from the theatre industry. I cannot wait for us to be the ones out there making these changes.

BWW Blog: What College Students Want to See More and Less of In Theatre

Not too long ago I saw a tweet about how midsize and fat girls constantly get cast as the moms and comedic characters in theatre. This is a big issue I have with theatre. I am tired of seeing mostly skinny white women play The Ingenues. I want to normalize size blind casting. I want actresses who have the talent to play the part to get cast in the part, appearance should not be as much of a factor. This spark of passion got me thinking, if this is what I want to see different, what other perspectives do my classmates have?

I asked two simple, yet broad questions to a handful of different Xavier University Theatre majors. The questions are as follows: What is something you want to see more of in theatre? What is something you want to see less of in theatre?

Cristin Fries, a first-year theatre performance and early childhood education double major wants more inclusion in theatre "I want to see more plays written by women, by blacks, by non-black people of color." She feels there should be more shows that "portray different ways of life but show the value in each one." Representation is important to Cristin, "I want everyone to be able to go to the theatre and see themselves up on that stage."

Katherine Ivins, a senior theatre major with a focus in stage management and minor in deaf studies, also wants to see more inclusive casting in theatre. Similar to what I said, she recognizes "Most leading characters are typically of a particular size and build and if an actor is not of that standard, then they are cast in a supporting role. This can have a negative impact on aspiring young actors." She did have a positive experience with a young girl who played Jasmine in Aladdin, "her favorite part was being able to be a figure for little girls and showing them that you don't have to be a certain body type to be a princess." Katherine wishes bigger theatres would have this same mindset. She wants less of the mindset that "the show must go on" when it comes to terms of scheduling. She states, "I understand that working in theatre can require many sacrifices." but argues that there should be a "better understanding that rehearsal is not the #1 priority in everyone's lives."

Senior musical theatre and communications double major, Ellie Deutsch says "I am so thankful women are taking on more of a diverse role in theatre, but that does not stop me from wanting more. Women have just broken the ice with roles that they would not be "meant for" just a few years ago. We are no longer just the damsel in distress and to me, that's how it should always be." Ellie pleads for less audience participation, "Give me a break, let me rest during the show and escape to a new world for a moment. No more sing-alongs or 'I can't hear you, clap a little louder!'" She says, "It's just downright cringy."

Roman Harris-Richardson, a sophomore theatre performance major with minors in French and Spanish says he would like "More shows that cast roles with the goal gender ambiguity." He wants to see a show like Lord of the Flies "that works exactly the same if one were to make every character female." He wants to see less physical contact in performances. Roman argues, "Some actors, like myself and those on the autistic spectrum, feel immensely uncomfortable and may even panic when they hear that they have to come in contact with another actor." He believes that "actors have the capacity to express their feelings towards one another without the use of touch."

Christine Gallagher is a senior theatre education major with minors in special education, deaf studies, and gender and diversity studies. She wants to see "more representation of disability in theatre, both in artists and storytelling." She states, "There are so few major plays and musicals that feature representation of disability and some of it is extremely negative (i.e. Nessarose in Wicked)." Christine also argues there should be more focus on accessibility in theatre as a workplace.

Sophomore Mac McDermott, a technical theatre and design major with writing and gender and diversity minors, just wants to "see more live theatre." I know many of us out there hope we will be able to have theatre safely, in person again soon. A simple request that can only be fulfilled if people wear their masks.

Christin, Christine, Mac, and I all want to see less of the same thing, overused plots, basic tropes, and movie adaptations. Cristin wants playwrights to stop "falling back on basic plots" and instead "push the envelope." Christine is "getting really tired of musical adaptations of already existing movies." She argues "There are so many other stories we could be telling that do not already exist."

You heard it here first, this is what our generation of artists wants from the theatre industry. I cannot wait for us to be the ones out there making these changes.



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