Muncie, IN: An overweight young woman kicked out of a choir group for her physical appearance; a gay man and a lesbian woman telling their stories of parental rejection; a Korean- American teenager's memories of being stereotyped—these are a few of the powerful real-life stories presented in a recent Ball State University student production.
"Let's Talk About...Discrimination," produced by students Chelsey Everheart and Dominic Schiferl, was inspired by a class assignment to use communication as a tool for social change. The two approached fellow students, asking them to share their personal experiences with discrimination. Schiferl created a link to Live Journal where people could submit poems or narratives while staying completely anonymous.
Dozens of narratives poured in. Schiferl was particularly moved by a gay student’s story of being beaten up at a local bar. "I couldn't believe something like that actually happened, so close by...that's a bar I've been to, that a lot of students hang out at," says Schiferl. "That's what makes these anonymous stories even more compelling- that most of them are local."
On Feb. 7, eight student actors performed 16 of these stories onstage. The show was such a hit it will be performed again Feb. 25, and the organizers will take the project to high schools all over Indiana. They also plan to keep the anonymous link open for people to continue to share their creative reflections about prejudice and discrimination.
If you would like to share your experience with discrimination, please visit http://letstalkguest.livejournal.com/ .
Have you or anyone you know started a conversation about discrimination in your community? How can theater or other art forms be used to generate dialogue about topics some people find uncomfortable?