This weekend, the cast of “The Vagina Monologues” will stand up on the DPAC stage and present powerful performances about sensitive topics as an annual display at FSU of female empowerment.
The week of the performance is the first time this group was able to stand on stage to perform.
Rewind a week, and cast members were on the top of the back stairway in the McCarthy Center, next to the cramped conference room – the only place the nearly 30 member cast is allowed to use for their rehearsals. They were spread out into the hallway and the staircase in order to use any space available to them to make their final performance the best it could be.
The lack of space available to these students is shameful. The material being discussed and performed is sensitive and emotional, and the actors need a space conducive to letting them work through their experiences.
Additionally, there are evening classes on the floor below where these actors are rehearsing – which means they can’t necessarily be as loud as they need to be able to practice, which, as people who have seen the show will understand, is particularly important considering the language used in the monologues.
“The Vagina Monologue” cast, as with all performance groups at FSU, has not been allowed to use the auditorium in Dwight until the week before their performance.
The Hilltop Players and the improv group, The Suit Jacket Posse, often practice in lecture rooms in Hemenway Hall, where the floor space is limited to a small strip at the front of the classroom, and where students have seen cockroaches crawling out from the corners of the rooms.
These groups are sometimes able to use the Ecumenical Center, but this location doesn’t allow for sets or dramatic lighting.
The sets for these groups are limited to what students have only been able to build the week of the show, because they weren’t allowed to build before tech week, and they had to do so in the tiny green room below the stage in DPAC. This room is shared by the theater groups and the dance club, so the already small space is cramped with stored items.
Isn’t an auditorium there for artists to hone their craft and practice in a space that allows them to be loud, block out their performance on the stage and have privacy? Don’t we pay to go to a school to be able to use these spaces? So why aren’t students being allowed to use these resources on campus?
Yet on student tours, the theater groups are touted as a selling point for potential students who are looking for a school that will allow them to develop skills and make valuable memories.
It’s not a matter of a lack of space. It’s a matter of not trusting students with the space that we are paying to be able to use.
Administrators might be afraid that if students are allowed to use these rooms, they will get trashed or property might be damaged.
While all students should be trusted to be responsible enough to use this space, it’s particularly egregious that students who have been elected into leadership roles are not respected enough to be given this responsibility.
The success of student performance groups directly reflect on the reputation of the school. When student groups are able to flourish because of the space and resources they’re offered, it shows the level of respect the administration has for students.
Having a strong theater program inspires new students to want to come here, since so many students look for thriving arts programs when touring schools. Impressive performances are also likely to encourage the alumni to invest in the school.
Not offering sufficient space for these groups show a lack of respect and trust toward the student body, and stunts them from being able to grow to their full potential.
We have the space to use. We’re paying for it. We’re just not allowed to use it.