Applied Theater and CGE explore gender issues

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Pacific’s Applied Theater Department and the Center for Gender Equity with help from the Gender and Sexuality Studies Department have teamed up to tackle a multitude of gender issues that are constantly in play in today’s world in the spring production of “Much Ado About Gender.”

Theatre Professor Ellen Margolis explained that this year’s play focusing on gender issues and identity came to be when Applied Theatre Professor Jacob Coleman expressed interest in teaching a class that had students write a play based off of interviews and the words and voices of other people.

“The questions we wanted to pursue when we first started working on the show had to do with really local and contemporary experiences of gender identification,” said Margolis. “We wanted to talk with people on and off campus about their experiences with gender, assumptions about gender they may already have and questions about gender they wanted answered.”

Work for the play began in the beginning of spring semester when Coleman, the instructor for the class and facilitator for the play, helped his six student writers and actors transform their interviews with Pacific students, faculty, staff and the people of Forest Grove into scripts for the play.

The play, which will run for about 75 minutes with an intermission, is divided into six distinct sections, with each section focusing on a different gender issue. The six students in Coleman’s class each wrote their own script focusing on one specific gender issue and will direct their own portion of the play alongside fellow classmates.

The gender issues that the play will focus on include controversy surrounding same-sex bathrooms, the rights of transgender people, gender identification and much more.

The play will conclude with a question and answer session with the directors and actors of the play in which the audience will be able to have any of their questions about gender or the play answered and where a safe and healthy discussion about gender can be held.

“A live performance really opens the door up for conversation, in a way that movies can’t,” said Margolis. “Theatre brings an audience together in a very immediate way and the people are really primed to ask questions.”

Margolis hopes that the play will spark discussion even after its conclusion and that audience members will continue those conversations even after leaving the building.

“One of the advantages of having multiple perspectives in a play like this is that everyone will connect to, or relate to, one or more of the characters,” said Margolis. “I hope that everyone can identify with some part of it”

“Much Ado About Gender” will be playing at 7:00 p.m. on April 28, 5:00 p.m. on April 29 and 2:00 p.m. on April 30 in Tom Miles Theatre. Admission is free to all Pacific students, faculty and staff and $8 at the door for general admission.


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