The sexual assault awareness student group from Rutgers University visited Wilson Auditorium for the fifth consecutive year to share their SCREAM Theater performance on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 7 pm.
SCREAM stands for students challenging realities and educating against myths. The performance group consisted of seven student actors and Prevention Education Coordinator, Brady Root. SCREAM has existed for 20 years and covers important topics such as dating violence, stalking, sexual harassment and bullying, according to Root.
The actors played the roles of college students at a party with abundant amounts of alcohol. One of the actresses, Jess (Benny Del Castillo), becomes the victim of sexual assault when Ryan (Kenan Gebizliobro) brings her upstairs and takes advantage of her.
The rest of their friends at the party were also responsible for the situation in some ways. Some friends saw what happened and didn’t speak up, some thought Ryan was wrong and took action, and some blamed Jess, the victim.
After the performance the actors came back on stage, still in their roles, to answer audience questions the way their characters would respond. After the question and answer period, the actors came out of their roles and spoke about the responsibilities their characters had and if they handled them appropriately.
“Things happen every day. We want to talk about starting that conversation of why it is happening,” said Root.
SCREAM does 80 to 100 conversations each year, reaching 8,000 to 10,000 people. “[Statistics] continue to come back with the fact that on college campuses one in four college women will be a victim of attempted or repeated sexual assault,” added Root.
Thomas McCarthy, Assistant Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, believes that SCREAM presents an important topic for the University. “The purpose of SCREAM Theater is to bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault and interpersonal violence, specifically on college campuses,” McCarthy said. “Further, we hope that it promotes discussion on the topic, and that individuals, if ever in such a circumstance, know that there are resources available on our campus, as well as in off-campus agencies.”
Sexual violence is not a new topic to discuss on college campuses. “We’re really excited to come back to Monmouth every year, but I want [students] to realize this isn’t something we threw together last night. It’s something that has reached a lot of different people over the years,” said Root.
“I believe that the performance is so real that students can relate and apply what they have seen and learned at the performance to their lives and their experiences,” said McCarthy. “I also believe that the discussion before and after the performance helps to educate students.”
The students at Rutgers commented on their different roles in the performance. “Ryan’s role was based off of three main principles which are power, control and excitement,” said Gebizliobro. “With this age group, 16 to 24 being right in the middle of it, it’s definitely a huge problem.”
Gebizliobro added, “The decision to have sex is not made when you’re getting dressed or when you walk upstairs to a room. [Jess] said no and you have to respect that.”
The victim character in the skit was hesitant to talk about her experience. Del Castillo said, “If a victim is not ready to tell the story it can actually re-traumatize them to have to tell it over and over and over again if they’re not ready to do that.”
There were 62 students present at the performance, according to McCarthy. The nonprofit organization, 180 Turning Lives Around, also had a table at the event with information on sexual abuse and support hotlines.
“It is a difficult topic to discuss, or even to watch it be performed, so I believe that the number of students who have attended has been great,” McCarthy said.
PHOTO COURTESY of Jim Reme